Arlington The World Junior Ultimate Championships in Dublin, Ireland concluded on Aug. 19, with the U.S. junior boys’ team winning the gold medal and the junior girls’ team winning the silver medal. Arlington residents Jay Boyle and Jojo Emerson were on the boys’ and girls’ teams, respectively.
“I think it went really well considering not only the conditions under which we were playing but the amount of time that the team was together,” said Emerson, in a phone interview.
The first time that the whole team met was at the training camp in Boston, one week before the tournament. Ben Van Heuvelen, head coach of the USA junior boys team, described it as “team building on steroids” because all of the bonding time and team building between teammates had to be condensed into one week.
“One of the big challenges we have as a team is that we have very little time to work together or practice together,” said Kyle Weisbrod, head coach of the USA junior girls team, in a phone interview.
Weisbrod said that the Colombian teams had worked together for six months prior to the tournament. Despite this, Weisbrod felt that he and the other coaches were able to sufficiently prepare the players. “We were really proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a limited time,” he said.
Boyle said that “it was almost never a goal to win. I would say that spirit was much more at the forefront of my mind than it has been in the past. I was always conscious about … what kind of image we were portraying [of the U.S.],” he said.
Boyle, also said that the main thing the coaches emphasized was focusing on the team.
“The coaches, the parents that helped us out, and the USA Ultimate staff created an environment where nothing else mattered but the team,” he said. “There was no room for anything else.”
Boyle was fine with this because for him “nothing mattered but Ultimate. I slept, breathed, thought, ate, [and] played Ultimate, and that was the only thing that mattered. I can’t think of a situation where I’m ever going be able to have that experience again.”
“It was the hardest and the greatest thing I’ve ever done concerning Ultimate,” said Emerson. For her, it was interesting to be able to watch, bond with, and play against Ultimate teams from other countries.