[Team Interview] #hoppZUF

Meet the Züri Ultimate Flyers, more commonly abbreviated to ZUF (because their strong T-Rex arms get tired when writing long words). Luckily those same arms have no exhaustion when it comes to plastic, which has given ZUF the energy they needed to steadily build up their team these past three years in the face of player turn-over and incredibly complicated team tactics.

It has been an absolute joy getting to know this team and it is also really satisfying to finally know dinosaur connection origin story… although translating their excellent dinosaur based humor into French was a bit less fun. Without further ado: ZUF!

Fact Card

Club: ZUF
Year club was founded: 1984
City, Country :  Zürich, Switzerland
Division: Women’s

Best Results :
National Championships: 1st in 2012 & 2013 (+ Mixed 2009-2012)
World Championships: 19th in Lecco (WUCC 2014)

Crowdfunding Campaign?
We ran a Hat Tournament with a Party, which raised some Francs and helped us introduce ultimate to more people in Zürich, which is a larger club goal of ours. The party featured drinks made with moonshine, including a mammoth jello-shot in a disc that was auctioned off. While it’s hard to say if the highest bidders actually “won” (it was pretty gross), we appreciate their support (Thanks, Ed and Ethan!) Some players produced and sold hats, while our younger players ran their own crowdfunding campaign, which has now closed (successfully!) .

ZUF at Tom’s Tourney

What are the goals of the team at WUCC and beyond? How are you preparing to accomplish these goals?

No bones about it, we are just a bunch of dinosaurs trying to make it in the anthropocene.

  • Are we meditating? You bet!
  • Are we using social network analysis and machine learning to inform our tactics? Sorta.
  • Are we particularly ambitious? Not really.

We were super excited that Switzerland got a second women’s bid!!! We’ve adopted some hatchlings from other Swiss teams to boost the numbers of our herd– with a focus on developing players and Swiss ultimate. Our talon-ted pickups took on the challenge of working out, working hard, and working as a team. Additionally, we practice twice a week, have one group gym session and at least one independent session a week, and a running program designed to first build endurance, then speed. Switzerland is pretty compact, so external players have been able to attend some weekday trainings in Zürich and we have had three training weekends.

ZUF at Disc Days Cologne
Photo Credits: Matthias Zuber (for Disc Days Cologne)

Our evolution has progressed through early, chemistry building tournaments, like Prague Winter and Skybowl to more focused tournaments like Tom’s Tourney and Disc Days Cologne. Plus we won the 2018 Swiss Beach Championship along the way!

We have just four returners from Lecco ‘14 so it is difficult to guess how we will stack up to the competition outside of Europe, but we aim to play cohesively and would like to finish in the top half of the spirit rankings.

ZUF facing YAKA at Tom’s Tourney

What should the world know about your team and its journey to Worlds?

We were delighted and a bit surprised to find out that Switzerland had a second women’s bid! We have been on this journey for three years, before the #roadtocincinnati existed. Back then, we introduced new offensive and defensive systems and, honestly it was a bit of a (tyrannosaurus) wreck — we finished last at Skybowl and lost every game in the first round of the Swiss Championships – clawing back up to third in the final round. Over the course of that season we also lost several key players to injury, so shyer/less experienced players had to take over more responsibility. But all that can be considered prehistoric – we are back to health and have gotten much more confident with the systems and move as a collective mind on the field.  During that phase we also adopted the Dino as a mascot, since one of our pregnant teammates would come cheer for us in a T-rex onesie. To the chagrin of some players, the Dino is here to stay.

ZUF getting in selfie-shape at Tom’s Tourney
Photo Credits: ZUF (Caroline Saul)

Some Stega-stories for ya:

  • Have we made up our own party themes for themeless parties? You bet!
  • Have we, on occasion, convinced other teams that those were the official themes and gotten them to join in? Oh yeah!
  • Have we sourced fans from Tinder? You haven’t?
  • Have we had to change a cheer that a non-swiss player made up because ZUF spelled backwards is the “c-word”  in swiss german? Jä!
  • Have the ZUFis danced more this season than we ever have before?  Thanks, Tess!

ZUF Training Weekend
Photo Credits: ZUF (Caroline Saul)

What can your opponents expect from you this season?

Do you mean their T-rexpectations?

Our playing style can be characterized as RAWR! We’ve heard opponents (and, honestly some of our players) describe our offense as “chaos”, which we are choosing to take as a compliment. One of our most experienced players notes, “What I really love about playing with ZUF is that the system is so confusing and I love a challenge!”

See you in Cinci! #hoppZUF

ZUF facing the Seagulls and Deskeagh at Tom’s Tourney

Thank you ZUF for this delightful pun-filled foray into you Jurassic Plans. Wishing you the best of luck this season!

[Team Interview] #YAKAddict

One of the first teams we worked with, and perennial first ladies of France: YAKA. Known for their 10 French Nationals wins, team selfies, and intimidating team pictures; YAKA are aiming to equal or improve on their 2017 bronze medal finish at EUCF. Read on to see how YAKA, despite player turnover, are working hard to present a united front at WUCC. 

Cover Photo: YAKA’s Virginie and Daniela in the Tom’s Tourney 2018 Finals vs. Iceni
Cover Photo Credit: The ShowGame © Tristan Millington

Fact Card

Club: YAKA
Year club was founded: 1986, women’s team YAKA was founded in 2005
City, Country :  Noisy-le-Sec, France
Division: Women’s

Best Results :
National Championships:
outdoor: 1st in 2007 and from 2009 – 2017 (10 titles)
indoor: 1st in 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 (3 titles)

Continental Championships: 3rd in 2017
World Championships: 23rd in 2014, 22nd in 2010

Crowdfunding Campaign?
Yes, right here: link.

What are the goals of the team at WUCC and beyond? How are you preparing to accomplish these goals?

WUCC 2018 will be our third World Club Championship. After Prague in 2010 and Lecco in 2014, this year we intend to continue our quest for international results, of course, by improving our previous ranking. But in terms of sport, we would especially like to confirm our European bronze medal by finishing in the top 3 of the attending European teams.

From the point of view of Spirit, we are insisting that every player knows the rules perfectly, but especially that every player takes pleasure in being at these World Championships. This is a huge celebration of the ultimate world, and it is up to us to represent French Ultimate in the most beautiful way possible!

YAKA team picture taken at Tom’s Tourney
Photo Credits: YAKA

Our preparation is built on collectivity. We had a big roster turnover between the 2017 and 2018 season, so we organized several training sessions (and selection rounds) to quickly build a new group, and then we immediately went to confront other European teams: in Ghent for a training camp with the Belgian team Gentle and the English team Iceni, and then at different tournaments: Vienna, Brugge, Amsterdam. Our first sports results are very encouraging for the future! (A victory in Brugge, 2nd place in Vienna).

We will continue our training plan until the end: 2 technical and tactical training sessions per week, as well as 3 physical training sessions. A large core of players train together in Noisy-le-Sec, but we also have several players located far away, including 2 players from Nantes, 2 from Grenoble, and 6 girls living abroad. While some might think this is not ideal for preparing to attend a World Championship, at YAKA we are used to working with remote players. Our communication within the team is essential; even at a distance, we are in touch every day to give news, to motivate, and especially to share jokes and various delusions. The YAKA 2018 group is doing extremely well as we prepare for the big appointment of the summer!!

YAKA’s Robyn and Virginie facing the Dutch U20 team in the Tom’s Tourney 2018 Semi-Finals
Photo Credit: The ShowGame © Claire Baker

What should the world know about your team and its journey to Worlds?

For Cincinnati, we think we have armed our squad to fight against any team: our American recruits will help us to decipher the American and Japanese game that they are used to dealing with; our European recruits (Austrian and Dutch) will bring us better knowledge of the Northern and Eastern European game. This is a real asset to us who are by now very familiar with the Belgian, English and Italian game, teams that we have played very often over the last 2-3 years.

For WUCC, we have worked on our collective trust! Going to the other side of the world to play Ultimate is just huge. It will therefore be necessary to enjoy every moment and to make the most out of this opportunity!

Anecdote: During our European bronze-medal run in 2017, the mayor of Noisy-le-Sec, Mr Laurent RIVOIRE, made the trip to Caorle in Italy to support us and experience that adventure with us. With two club teams in Cincinnati (YAKA in women and Iznogood in open), will the Mayor be present in the United States?!

YAKA’s Sarah and Aude in the Tom’s Tourney 2018 Finals vs. Iceni
Photo Credit: The ShowGame © Tristan Millington

What can your opponents expect from you this season?

In terms of our team cheer we will not be original: we have had the same yell since 2007, a cheer that has been passed down from generation to generation 🙂

On the other hand, in terms of playing style we will continue the work of recent years: that is to say (without revealing too much), a well-oiled offense with dangerous players in the different areas of play, and several defensive cards in our pocket: from great individual physical capabilities to different collective zone defenses!

We can not wait to launch our “Makina” lines (powerline) in Cincinnati!

YAKA’s Rasta at Vienna Spring Break and Robyn at Tom’s Tourney
Photo Credit (one): © H.-P. Zerlauth
Photo Credit (two): © Tom’s Tourney

Thank you YAKA for enabling us to get even more YAKAddicted! Best of luck to you and the Mayor at WUCC!

[Team Interview] How to Fly like a Rabbit

The team that inspired these short team interviews is up next: the Flying Rabbits.

Robin had the pleasure of attending one of their team trainings earlier this year and was impressed by the humor they brought to everything they did. Case in point: their warm-up routine is thoroughly rabbit themed and includes “picking the carrots” and “the hunter position”. An awesome club that deserves the world’s attention, everyone who has attended their annual “I Don’t Carrot All” tournament would agree.

Fact Card

WEBSITE
Facebook
I Don’t Carrot All

Club: Flying Rabbits
Year club was founded: 2014
City, Country :  Brussels, Belgium
Division: Mixed

Best Results :
National Championships: 2nd (Mixed Division)
Continental Championships: 2 participations at EUCR-C (Mixed Division)
World Championships: None, yet.

Crowdfunding Campaign?
We did not do a public funding campaign.

Robin attending a Flying Rabbits training earlier this season
Photo Credits: the Ultimate Life of John Kofi

What are the goals of the team at WUCC and beyond? How are you preparing to accomplish these goals?

Our goals are multiple and can be summarized as: to take and offer a maximum amount of pleasure during our week at WUCC. To achieve this, we are working on several aspects.

Sport first. We want to give our best. In addition to our extra weekly trainings, we have a physical training program that we set up many months ago. Tactically, our coach Sigi Bodson has also concocted several custom-made plays and worked a lot on our defensive and offensive maturity.

Onto spirit. We are really aiming to be without reproach during Worlds. We are working on the 5 traditional axes of SOTG, and especially on the category “rules knowledge and use”.

Flying Rabbits at G-Spot
Photo Credits: © Raf Celis

Throughout our preparation, we are also trying to get a maximum amount of experience out of playing other teams.

Collectively, it is also a big challenge to attend with 28 players while keeping good team cohesion, foolproof spirit, and defusing any frustrations. To get there at our best, we have been assisted by two coaches, Caroline Delmeire and Nathalie Ledur, specialized in team development.

All of our preparation has already borne its first fruits at G-Spot and, we hope, will bring even more results during Windmill, which will be the dress rehearsal before WUCC for many teams.

Flying Rabbits at G-Spot
Photo Credits: © Raf Celis

What should the world know about your team and its journey to Worlds?

Our club was created in 2014 by players who were almost all beginners. From the start, the club’s crazy dream was to be “2018 World Champions”. At the beginning of the joke, we did everything to align the stars gradually over the seasons. Last year, after a huge amount of effort, we managed to get second place at the mixed Belgian outdoor championships … all still on track with the original joke!

We hope now that the conclusion of our founding dream will be as crazy as possible.

Flying Rabbits at G-Spot
Photo Credits: © Raf Celis

What can your opponents expect from you this season?

We are quite famous for our Spirit, our songs and our very mixed game. These are characteristics that we will not change, quite the contrary in fact!

For those who would like the crispy details of those Rabbits going to WUCC, every week on Facebook we publish descriptive cards introducing each player. In addition to being very funny, everything we publish is true, so do not hesitate to check out our page.

Robin attending a Flying Rabbits training earlier this season
Photo Credits: the Ultimate Life of John Kofi

Thank you Flying Rabbits for this peak into your team preparations, and the best of luck this year realizing your founding dreams!

[Team Interview] The “Krassgeile” Mainzelmädchen

We have already had the pleasure of working with a bunch of incredible clubs and teams this year, and we would love for you to meet them. Next up are the Mainzelmädchen. After winning the German national championships in 2017, they are now on the hunt to impress both on the continental stage and at WUCC later this summer.

Cover Photo Credits: © H.-P. Zerlauth

Fact Card

Club: Mainzelmädchen
Year club was founded: 1996 in Mainz, cooperating with Darmstadt since 2011
City, Country:  Mainz and Darmstadt
Division: Womens

Best Results:
National Championships: 1st (2017)
Continental Championships: coming this year
World Championships: coming this year

Crowdfunding Campaign? No

What are the goals of the team at WUCC and beyond? How are you preparing to accomplish these goals?

We will play the WUCC in Cincinnati. This is an exciting big event and goal for everyone in the team. We attach great importance to focusing on our play, independently of which team is playing against us. In this way, we are sure that we can get our 100% performance (and more for sure).

Also, our big aim is to defend our national title in the Women’s division.

Mainzelmädchen at Vienna Spring Break
Photo Credits: © H.-P. Zerlauth

For these two goals (mostly for WUCC), we are working hard individually and together. We do additional muscle and stability trainings, sprints and high intensity interval trainings, throwing and of course the team trainings together.

We had several training weekends and picked three international tournaments for preparation (Benelux Cup, Vienna Spring Break, Windmill).

No matter how games are going, we will work together as one team till the end.

Mainzelmädchen at Vienna Spring Break
Photo Credits: © H.-P. Zerlauth

What should the world know about your team and its journey to Worlds?

We have a really pleasant group with lovely individuals – everyone takes care of every others, we respect us and really have a lot of fun, no matter what the circumstances give us.

Our team is nearly 100% “original” club team without pick-ups. From the 20 players, only one player joined us for the big event but she already played a tournament with us and knew the most of us. Because she belongs to us as a matter of course, I (captain) forgot to introduce her at the first WUCC preparation session.

This is we are very proud of and we think what “club championships” really is. We know each other very well, developed together and have our really unique team culture.

Mainzelmädchen posing in their matching TOKAY’s at Vienna Spring Break
Photo Credits: the Mainzelmädchen

What can your opponents expect from you this season?

We are sure that we all widely stepped forward with our preparation, physically and mentally. It is easy to keep the motivation high when you are clearly leading. Our challenge is to keep the high intensity and positive energy throughout the games independently of the score.

Our team keyword is “krassgeil” which means like “extremely amazing” – this is what every single player believes about herself and the team.

Mainzelmädchen at Vienna Spring Break
Photo Credits: © H.-P. Zerlauth

Thank you Mainzelmädchen for this incredible insight into your capital t Team, and the best of luck this season nationally and internationally!

[Team Interview] Meet the Wizards

We have already had the pleasure of working with a bunch of incredible clubs and teams this year, and we would love for you to meet them. First up are the Wizards from Geneva! They have a magical way of describing their season… 😀

Fact Card

Club: Wizards
Year club was founded: 1984
City, Country : Geneva, Switzerland
Division: Mixed

Best Results :
National Championships: 2nd in Mixed (2017). In Open the best result was 3rd (2008).
World Championships: First participation in Mixed. Last time was Open masters in 1999… or Open in 1995…

Crowdfunding Campaign
https://wemakeit.com/projects/geneva-ultimate-frisbee

What are the goals of the team at WUCC and beyond? How are you preparing to accomplish these goals?

For our first participation in the WUCC mixed division the main goal of the WIZARDS – after quidditch has stopped – is to gain a maximum amount of experience and continue to progress.

We do not have a ranking objective and we intend to approach the tournament one match at a time… Like Gandalf or Merlin, we will see where our magic and our incantations lead us.

In general, this participation to WUCC has allowed us to form a strong group with some players who have joined us from  beyond Geneva’s borders.

We ended up cutting Harry Potter from the final selection because he really lacked team spirit.

We have increased the intensity of our trainings and prepared a new magic potion adapted to the humidity of Cincinnati. We now have to check whether it complies with anti-doping standards.

We also have new brooms as well as two or more original strategies, all innovative and bewitching, but we will be keeping those to ourselves for now.

Further related to optimal preparation, we have a dietician of Elven origin who very strictly guides our diet. We eat mainly mushrooms and roots, and some weekends we have the right to a cup of wildebeest blood.

Wizards in action at their home tournament Talampaya
All pictures by The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

What should the world know about your team and its journey to Worlds?

An important thing to know is that we are not old, but rather “experienced”.

Similarly, we are not especially small, but our center of gravity is lower than average.

We reflect the image of our city, with a population from all over the world. We speak a dialect – wizzinite – based on French, English, Khuzdul, Orkish, Italian, a little German and a touch of Berber. The vocabulary is very limited. We say “Daï Daï”, “Hammer” and “Bombone” a lot. That is enough for us for now.

We have a majestic war cry to encourage us before our matches, it is very melodic, but unfortunately we do not sing very well.

We recently kidnapped Sherkan, the Genevan eagle and mascot of the local ice hockey team. We put him in a cage with Jean-Luc – our favorite raven – we would like to see what happens … If we do not see concrete results, we sacrifice him to the next full moon.

Wizards in action at their home tournament Talampaya
All pictures by The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

What can your opponents expect from you this season?

A lot of black magic, but in keeping with the spirit of the game.

In terms of style of play, it will be simple: chicken’s blood, lizard’s scales, dried llama fetuses, all with an inclination towards the dark side of the force.

And we promise you that we will abstain from all forms of levitation.

Wizards in action at their home tournament Talampaya
All pictures by The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

Thank you Wizards for this incredible insight into your teams, and the best of luck this season!

[Travels] At Rising Home

A few weeks ago we attended Rising High; an excellent tournament in Ingeborg’s old home town of Delft, the Netherlands. She definitely suggested attending the tournament her former club hosts, and we’re both very glad she did! At Rising High we had our booth out in the sun, surrounded by 8 fields chock-a-block full of high-spirited ultimate.

The organizing teams (all three of which played and volunteered throughout the tournament) did an excellent job hosting three days of disc joy for intermediate to experience teams, providing us excellent food at a great location with an excellent party to boot! Thank you for the excellent work Force Elektro (and the Power PUF Girls!), Ingeborg had the best time being home.

Hosts Force Elektro and the Power PUF Girls in action at Rising High

Work Hard Play Hard

Attending a tournament as your job is obviously a very awesome and fun type of work, but it does usually means not playing any actual Ultimate while we are there. Furthermore, we have come back from tournaments and realized that we had not thrown a single disc that entire 2 – 3 day period. Whoops.

All of that was very different this year in attending Rising High. Before the tournament proper got underway, Robin played the one day HAT tournament with the blue team. The excellently titled Rising Hat is an excellent opportunity to meet the people you will be playing against for the rest of the weekend, and for Robin is was a chance to play before working the rest of the weekend.

In a nice turn of events, things would not remain so clear cut. Since a few HAT players forgot to bring cleats, Robin worked a little during the HAT tournament; and because Robin found out that one of the teams at Rising High would have only 6 players for the tournament, he ended up playing for a lot of the weekend! Eventually WAF found a few more players, and they had a luxuriously large team of 9 players.

Here are a few pictures of Robin stretching his legs with WAF.

Naturally Ingeborg got a little jealous of all of the on field frolicking fun that Robin was having, so she picked up with her old regional women’s pick up for the second day; back in pink with the Power PUF Girls!

Disc Giveaway

Once again we ran our disc giveaway competition. And once again the Callahan Catcher disc was claimed seconds into the tournament while the Greatest Thrower remained unclaimed. A lot of players cheerily boasted that they would do the deed in the next game, but this remained all talk and no action. One team even took a time-out in order to strategize how they could execute a successful Greatest; but that time-out only led to an almost immediate turnover and zero successful Greatests.

(left) Harald of the Frizzly Bears, our Callahan Catcher
(right) Greatest attempt, picture by Cheron Huskens

We want to congratulate Harald of the Frizzly Bears for successfully catching a Callahan score in their first game of the tournament. Funnily enough, it was during their game against Force Elektro, the team who had won the Callahan Catcher disc at Tom’s Tourney the weekend before! Harald credits his team’s excellent junk defense for throwing of FE’s offense. A floaty disc went up to the poached handler in the endzone, and Harald had “way too much time to get the disc,” the score and the TOKAY Giveaway Disc to boot!

Also a special shout-out to the Belgian U20 team for scoring 3 Callahans in a single game! And also for winning the tournament…

Fun in the Dutch Sun

Congratulations to all of the winners at Rising High 2018: Dutch U20 Women for winning the women’s division and Spirit, Belgium U20 Men for winning the High Open division, Flying Colors for winning the Rising Open division and to BORA for winning the Open Spirit prize.  Also a huge congratulations to Jet Set for winning the party and Undutchables for winning the flip-cup tournament.

Perhaps it was our time on the field playing, or the ever present sunshine, maybe even the flip cup tournament or that falafel lunch on Saturday… for all those reasons and a thousand more, Rising High was a joy to attend and felt more like a holiday than any tournament we attended has so far. As always it was a pleasure to meet and re-meet many wonderful people in our little world of Ultimate. We look forward to catching up with you all soon, and are eagerly anticipating our next travel destination!

[Travels] TOKAY at Tom’s Tourney

Making History

We were very excited to be at Tom’s Tourney this year, in part because Tom’s happens to be an important marker in TOKAY’s short history. In 2017, Tom’s was the first tournament that we attended with some of our earlier prototypes. We only had two pairs there for players to trial, but even then we already had a great weekend talking to players about our project.

This year we returned with the first generation of TOKAY cleats: tester pairs in 18 sizes and many boxes full of cleats for sale! The compare and contrast below fills us with joy at how far we have already come with this project.

TOKAY Booth at TT2017 vs. TT2018

We’re looking forward to the work ahead (and there is plenty of it) to continue to grow and build TOKAY, but we also took the time to sit down with a tasty Belgian beer and revel in what we have accomplished so far.

Crazy Hazy Lazy Days of Ultimate

Tournament hosts the Freezzz Beezzz made some history of their own, winning their own tournament for the first time in Tom’s history! A huge congratulations to them, for the win and for putting on such an incredible tournament. Both the level play and the ambiance of Tom’s were fantastic once again. Great ultimate, weather, food and drink were available the whole weekend long; and the waffles even made two appearances much to Ingeborg’s delight!

Spectacular performances in the Open Division 1 Finals

We also want to shout out Tchac for their silver medal finish. This team holds a special place in our hearts and they were a delight to watch. Ingeborg in particular is a huge fan of the defensive Seagull chear: *flaps arms like wings* “kakaaaw kakaaaw.”

YAKA put on a dominant performance in the Women’s Final

Another French team close to our hearts is the spectacular YAKA of Noisy Le Sec. They won Tom’s Tourney this year for the first time since 2007. Despite losing to Iceni earlier on in the tournament, they shut them out of the finals.

It was great to see their international pick-ups gelling well with the rest of the team and an honour to meet the incredible Robyn Wiseman in person. For those of you who have not read her very positive review of our cleats, click here. For those of you more curious to see the dominant performance we saw, check out Fanseat’s coverage of the finals here (Fanseat subscription required).

Disc Giveaway

We ran another disc giveaway at Tom’s Tourney, and while the Callahan Catcher disc was claimed within the first few points of the first round of games, the Greatest Thrower once more went unclaimed.

(right) Andris Otisons of Force Elektro, winner of our Callahan Catcher Disc Giveaway

Andris Otisons of Force Elektro was the talent that caught the Callahan. In their game against DMB (Deine Mudder Bremen), Force Elektro rushed down to set up after the pull. While Dommi worked his magic on the mark, Andris Otisons played some nice tight dump defense on the open side handler. After said handler cut up field and diagonally back, Andris snuck a peak at the disc heading his way and deemed it his catch to make. A layout was required, but landing successfully in the endzone Andris got himself a Callahan score! And a TOKAY disc for his efforts!

Old and New Friends

We were super excited to see increasing numbers of TOKAY cleats rocking around in all three divisions. We saw them on the feet of individual backers, teams that made club orders (special shout out to the Flying Rabbits as well as ZUF and Gentle Ladies), as well as players who purchased them at Tom’s and immediately ran off to play games in their new cleats!

We had an incredible time at Tom’s Tourney, and hope to be back next year!

[Travels] TOKAY does Canada

As some of you may have noticed, Robin spent the start of April in Canada. He was there for a short two week trip. During week 1 he had the distinct pleasure of attending a cultural exchange workshop in Québec for entrepreneurs. He extended his stay for a week 2 during which he spent some time getting to know the Ultimate community in Québec and Montréal. To find out more about his Canadian travels, read on!

Bootcamp Basics

Back at home, TOKAY is part of a start-up village (we even have a mayor and town square). Four members of our start-up village were given the opportunity to attend a bootcamp with four members of a somewhat larger start-up city in Québec.

The primary goal of this bootcamp was to discover and learn from the possible cultural differences between Europe and North America: an interesting set-up for a global start-up such as ourselves. But the impact of the bootcamp went beyond even that and Robin has been bouncing off of the walls with enthusiasm since his return.

Group picture of the bootcamp participants and a sneak-a-peek at one of their sessions

Bootcamp Blow by Blow

The cultural exchange was composed of 4 days involving 8 entrepreneurs (4 from france and 4 from Quebec) and 2 mentors. The bootcamp was an unusual but effective experience. Robin came back refreshed and determined, with a lot of new ideas. I will describe the day by day schedule below, but Robin tells me that to understand the profound impact of this experience you had to be there… hopefully you will glean some insight from this write-up regardless!

Day one focused on the human participants. Each participant presented themselves in a very personal way and spoke of their dreams and values. Naturally this enabled the participants to get to know each other very well. Within a few short hours Robin got to know his fellow french villagers much better than he had over the course of a few months at the same office space.

On the second and third day, each project was presented in detail. Concerns and questions each participant had were discussed at length within the small bootcamp community. The knowledge that everyone had built of each other and their projects proved to be a very efficient way to build smart solutions; the experiences other people had had could be used to provide insight into another participant’s situation. These discussions were further enhanced by bits of theory given by the mentors.

The fourth and final day of the bootcamp focused on mentor input with a few touching stories on their successes and failures and finished off with some final tips to wrap up the bootcamp.

One of the things that Robin brought back in his luggage is the power of meditation, a method Robin is finding very effective in order to concentrate on that which is most important and get rid of the negative emotions we can encounter when trying to build a company.

Guided meditation is very easy to implement, you just need to allow yourself some time, find a quiet place, and listen to someone guiding you. Some nice guided meditations can be found on this app : Insight Timer.

Maple Syrup Saturday

On the Saturday after the Bootcamp everyone was invited by the grandparents of one of the entrepreneurs to visit their farm, and (grandparents being the same all around the world) eat and eat and eat. Robin overindulged in the local specialties which, given the time of year, were  maple syrup, maple syrup in bean soup, maple syrup with eggs and ham, or maple syrup poured on snow and rolled with a fork to form some delicious maple syrup candy.

(left) a look at the scale up brewery within the Québec start-up city
(right) a blissful Saturday at the farm

Thank you again Philippe for the invitation! Since life without maple syrup would be pale by comparison, Robin stuffed his suitcase full of little maple syrup bottles. But enough about maple syrup, onto the Ultimate!

Sunday in Québec

Robin had the pleasure to rock up to Expocité on Sunday the 8th of April to attend Ultimate Québec’s weekly league event, a 4 vs 4 indoor event on turf.

Cleats and shoes galore at Expocité

We want to thank all the people who dropped by and tried our shoes on. The atmosphere was incredibly welcoming and motivating and our cleats were thoroughly tested. Congratulations to Gabriel Amendola for winning our Québec cleat giveaway!

While in Québec, Robin was happy for the opportunity to meet Antoine Turgeon of Ultimate Québec and Franck Vallée to chat about Ultimate and Ultimate in Québec.

Meetings in Montréal

After some travelling and trying to catch up on emails, Robin arrived in Montréal. Here he attended two nights of Montréal’s first week of 5 vs 5 outdoor league. Although the weather was initially sunny on Tuesday, the sun soon confirmed that spring had not yet sprung. The sun disappeared and Robin started to freeze. Thanks again to Marie, the timekeeper from Ultimate Grand Montréal, for throwing with Robin to prevent you both from freezing over. Despite the cold, players were out in force and Robin got to meet two of our backers, a few French players, and some players from Iris.

Wednesday was a little less cold, and Robin enjoyed the excellent company of Quentin Bonnaud who furthermore proved to be an excellent throwing partner (who could have guessed?!).

Despite the cold, a lot of people came by to test our TOKAY’s. Thank you all and congratulations to Frédérique Gagnon and Malik Auger for winning the Tuesday and Wednesday cleat giveaway contest!

After a great meeting with Christian D’Auteuil of Ultimate Grand Montréal, Robin’s time in Canada was up. Canada, it was all awesome to meet (a part of) you. The bootcamp was an incredible experience. Much like real camp, Robin left with a lot of close new friends and ready to take on the world. On the Ultimate side of the trip, talking with players in Québec and Montréal provided an invaluable insight into these two Canadian Ultimate communities. It was also great to put faces to the email addresses at last!

As mentioned previously, Robin is very excited to bring back to TOKAY all that Canada has taught him, especially where maple syrup is concerned.

A huge thanks to Digiub for hosting a fantastic bootcamp, and also to Maud and Roland for making it possible! Thanks also to Chambéry Grand Lac for enabling TOKAY to attend such an incredible and formative event. A huge thanks to Québec Ultimate, Ultimate Grand Montréal and Specifik Ultimate for hosting us and enabling us to present our cleats to the fine people of Québec and Montréal. And an additional thanks to all the people that stopped to give our Ultimate specific cleats a try! Canada, it was a pleasure!

[Travels] TOKAY meets Mixed Tour

Mixed Tour 1

We attended UKU Mixed Tour 1 last weekend with our Ultimate specific boots in tow. Our goal: to wow our UK audience and figure out what exactly this tour thing is.

The weekend started early for us, as we set out on Thursday afternoon to get to Cardiff without getting too exhausted in the process. This was the first tournament we were attending outside of France since launching at the end of 2017, so we were nervously excited about what the weekend would bring.

Travelling in Freight Style

The fun started in earnest as our little rental van joined the real lorries in line to board the Eurotunnel Freight Shuttle.

Because this happened at border security, and one does not take pictures at security, I don’t have any pictures of Robin leaning up and out of his window to reach the check-in terminal designed for proper freight vehicles. It required some contortionist efforts on his part, and was rewarded by a failure to check in. Perfect, just perfect.

We then joined the other freight traffic on the Freight Shuttle, we blinked, and we were in England! Only miles to go before we reached Cardiff and the sanctuary of our faux-French accommodation. Accommodation highlights: the dining room decor. Nothing like a French man being confronted by the caricature of his people: the arrogant frog.

At last: Saturday and the start of Mixed Tour 1 arrived! We setup in the best mud on site and rolled out our artificial grass in welcome.

Disc Giveaway

We were running a disc giveaway to the first player to catch a Callahan score and throw a successful Greatest pass. Within the first game, the Callahan disc was quickly claimed by Matt Bolton of Reading Ultimate 1. In their game against Black Eagles, Bolton snagged a cross-field dump pass in the endzone for the score. Although part of Reading’s strong start, they went on to loose the game. This has become a pattern in our disc giveaway contests: winner of the disc looses the game. But at least they got a disc out of the bargain?

Despite the high number of intensely fought games with impressive actions from all teams, the Greatest pass disc was not claimed during the weekend. Something for the UK scene to practice, its always good to have a strong Greatest play in your playbook.

The Wonderful People of UK Ultimate

We had an excellent weekend full of great conversation and even a day full of sunshine! Since Robin stayed near the tent while Ingeborg roamed the fields, it was Ingeborg who ended up with the sunburn.

Minor sunburn aside, we were thrilled to receive excellent feedback from players already playing in the cleats and those trying them for the first time. Many people put on their new boots directly and happily reported that they didn’t need any breaking in and had great grip despite the muddy terrain!

Also, we have a new favourite tournament game: I spy with my little eye, somebody wearing TOKAY’s! Despite the mud, our expert eyes are getting increasingly practiced at zero-ing in on our beloved cleats in action.

On the road, we really enjoy meeting old and new friends in the Ultimate community. Mixed Tour 1 was no exception. In addition to the wonderful new people we met, we also re-met a few old friends. It was great to meet Fatemah in person, one of the generous people who backed the project, and find out more about her team South Wales Storm and her love of Ultimate specific products. Robin was also temporarily reunited with Robin of Thundering Herd, the man who first introduced him to Ultimate and inspired the company’s name. Quite the influential man about town!

We look forward to spending more time with the excellent people of the UK Ultimate scene. We will be heading back through the tunnel to attend UKU Club Open and Women’s Tour 1 come June. Have your own TOKAY’s shipped to that event for free by placing your order by May 30th 2018 with coupon code: WINDFARM 2018.

See you all on the fields soon!

[Travels] When Ultimate gets a little Rugby

Last weekend we had the joy of attending the second edition of Symp’HATrick, a St. Patrick’s day HAT organized by Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee. They also organized Winter League the day after, in which many of the HAT’s players also participated. The pictures below are from that league and were made by John Kofi.

It was a wonderful weekend of Ultimate in perfect Irish conditions: an exciting balance of grass, mud, grey skies and the threat of rain.

Cover Photo Credit: Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee

6 Nations Ultimate

In honor of the occasion, the tournament was heavily themed in keeping with the 6 nations tournament. That’s a rugby tournament, for the many of us who forget that from time to time, or never knew that to begin with. Short of exchanging the disc for a ball, Shamrock Ultimate did all they could to infuse rugby into the proceedings. Their commitment to theme added a lot of levity to the day.

There were 6 teams, each named after one of the nations that participate in the 6 nations tournament: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Wins earned teams four points, losses earned you zero points, and ties (which were possible) earned teams two points. The tweaking did not end there since winning teams that had scored 12 or more points earned an additional point as an offensive bonus while loosing teams that lost by 2 points of less also earned an extra point but as a defensive bonus. And points, as always, mean prizes.

Had to share this gathering of TOKAY’s on the field!
Photo Credit: The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

To add rugby to the game itself, there was even a 2 minute period per game of touch frisbee. You could run with the disc, you had to ground tap discs in the endzone to validate a score, and a turn-over resulted if and when an opponent touched you with two hands while you had possession of the disc. It was anarchy. Players forgot to ground tap the disc for scores resulting in rather brutal touch turnovers, desperation throws were very common and all structured play was thrown out the window.

Camila effected another first for us: the first pair of TOKAY cleats in the lost and found!
Photo Credit: The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

In addition to crowning the winners (England) and spirit winners (Wales), the tournament also awarded a Golden Leprechaun and Wooden Spoon for the respectively the best and worst action of the weekend. Joss from team Italy won the Golden Leprechaun for a huge layout grab on an upline pass. Théo from team England won the Wooden Spoon: perfectly placed and open in the endzone while playing against a zone defense, he failed to catch the goal scoring pass from his teammate due to slipping in the mud. Despite crawling desperately towards the disc afterwards, he fell short of the disc and earned himself a Spoon instead.

It served as a nice reminder for us to own and learn from both our successes and failures. And having an extra wooden spoon around the house can always come in handy.

Between games we had the joy of welcoming many players into the shelter of our testing tent to try on some TOKAY’s. The feedback we received, just at this tournament, was incredible.

“I could play all 8 games of the weekend comfortably and without getting my feet wet.”

– Anaïs

“After a day, my first feeling is very positive. My feet remained dry despite the high humidity, the grip was good and the comfort excellent.

I didn’t feel the usual foot pain that has me limping at the party and the day after. Now I hope I can rely on durability and quality.”

– Backman

“The grip of the shoes was nice but the best remains the comfort, the warmth and keeping my feet dry despite the Irish weather!”

– Clémentine

We had a great weekend running back and forth between playing in the HAT itself and manning the booth. Thank you to all the players in attendance, everyone who dropped by for a chat, and all of you already wearing TOKAY cleats! It was very exciting to see so many TOKAY’s sprinting and jumping about in Arnas.

Thank you Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee for organizing. Merci!