When I started playing this game, in 1998, I couldn't get enough. Our dorms in Eugene were our practice ground, and our freshman crew (Markus, Bryce, Jake, me, and the Duke) would leave early for practice, come back late, and throw for 4-5 hours at a time on our "off" days.
When we were too tired to throw any more...we spent way too much time on the UO's ethernet searching every site and search term we could to find more information on Ultimate. Jim Parinella's writings, even as hard to find as they were, were a godsend. (Fun fact that Jim is going to love...the super-aggressive huck-happy Oregon offense was developed in large part based on his words on offensive philosophy).
Our few glances at RSD inevitably ended in frustration; for all we knew, all the authors were great players that seems to intentionally reserve the really important stuff that they knew (substituting instead with invective, rivalries, inside jokes...). There was no outlet for us to find written advise from players that were better than us.
So we found other venues. We'd buttonhole better players at tournament parties. We make things up on our own. We'd watch Above and Beyond so many times that we could repeat the speeches by heart and, more importantly, could have long and intense discussions about the costs and benefits of particular footwork that we saw in half-second clips. We were obsessed, and it made us better players.
The sport, and the media that surrounds it, have come a long way since then. I leave it as an exercise for the younger reader to imagine a world where there was no Ultivillage, no Mssui, no Youth director at the UPA, no Youth Easterns or Westerns, no color UPA magazine, etc etc etc. RSD was the ONLY outlet...a single offhand comment might encapsulate the public understanding of an entire team. Now we can scout opponents by video in many cases. How cool is that?
While coaching together at Western Washington University (Go Dirt!), Andy Lovseth and I decided that we could do something to make it easier for real strategic knowledge to transmit in a more permanent and readily available way. We came up with the Huddle. Here, we hope to allow younger and developing players a look into the minds and thought processes of some of the games most successful coaches and players.
This isn't about abstract theories on what the perfect offense might look like...the Huddle is intended as a small window into what is being said in the time-outs and practices of the world's best.
Odds & Ends
So, enjoy! Some of the topics will probably interest you more than others, but hopefully some of the writers will tell you something new, engaging, or just plain useful for your game. Future issues will feature new authors and new areas of the game for you to read about. Since the idea is to create a conduit from the best players, we are trying to get the most real advise (and not necessarily the most polished and edited). We'll switch over to the Queen's English as soon as that is the language getting thrown around the whiteboard. Also, we aren't going to post comments; this is an 'experts panel' and the open atmosphere of RSD or the blogs just isn't really appropriate here.
The authors are all volunteers. Most of them have given back to the sport extensively in other ways, but hopefully the Huddle gives them a chance to reach a wider, interested audience. All credit goes to the players and coaches who have amassed this understanding of the game, and have gone even further to take the time and effort to get it written out.
With some persistence and luck we'll be able to keep this conduit open and keep bringing you the Huddle for a long time to come.
Andy & Ben, May 2008