Hello again! It’s Leah, I’m back with updates on AGE UP’s spring clinics and graduation. If you missed the boat and don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read my intro post on AGE UP, below We have now wrapped up stage two of the program where the AGE UP participants coached middle and elementary school clinics.
AGE UP ran clinics at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Dearborn Elementary, Graham Hill Elementary, Kellogg Middle School, Kimball, Chinook, and Cascade. In total, we had over a hundred elementary and middle school clinic attendees! Each clinic has been outstandingly fun to watch and play in.
Our clinics usually started out with a fun game as the kids filtered in (usually boot). Then we devoted some time to learning names and partner throwing. Next we would run a drill or two (dog drill is the standard favorite), and hopefully have time for scrimmaging or another game. Some of the clinics had so many participants that we got to run drill rotations, while at others we had such a high coach-to-participant ratio that each clinic attendee partnered with an AGE UP player-coach for one-on-one throwing. Both formats have worked out really well to keep the younger players engaged and develop the AGE UP girls’ confidence in their coaching abilities.
I think my personal favorite was when we had so many kids at Dearborn (which we had to hold indoors because it was pouring out) that we set up a giant squishy mat in the hall and I got to watch two of our eighth grade coaches run a layout drill for rotations of kids. They received awed gasps from the elementary schoolers after every demo run, and encouraged even the most nervous participants to try at least once (which of course always led to them trying again and again). Special props also to our eighth graders (plus three high schoolers) who held it down at our first middle school clinic at Kellogg while most of the AGE UP participants were playing in HS States games.
What has been particularly thrilling to see over the course of the clinics is that the kids are almost always engaged no matter their skill or experience level, and the AGE UP player-coaches always have something to teach them. Our very own evaluator extraordinaire Natalie Ortega drew up beautifully colorful evaluations based on feedback forms from clinic attendees and AGE UP participants to share back with the girls at each subsequent clinic. We got to reflect on our successes and areas for improvement from the previous clinic, as well as share how we felt about the clinic we just finished coaching. Natalie did a particularly great job of demonstrating to the girls that the clinic participants overwhelmingly felt like they learned something, so regardless of whether the girls could always tell that they were effective at teaching, each of the kids came away with new skills or understanding of the game.
We wrapped up the first year of AGE UP with a number of the girls participating in the awesome Riot Clinic on June 12 (a huge thank you to Riot for the annual success of the event as well as the generous scholarships provided to the AGE UP girls to attend) and a graduation ceremony on June 16.
The graduation ceremony included a rousing scrimmage of coaches-plus-families versus AGE UP girls (don’t worry, we managed to score a few points and keep their egos in check) and an unbelievably tasty potluck followed by a presentation where a club-level coach spoke about each of the attending players and gave them a personal jersey along with a certificate of completion. We concluded with a video slideshow, and an awesome group photo (shown above).
We are looking forward to our first reunion gathering coming up at the end of this month in which we will get to see the girls reconnect and pick their brains for ideas for next year!
P.S. I really wish I could share clinic photos with ya’ll, but we don’t have photo release forms from the clinic attendees, so we can’t publish pictures – sorry! Just close your eyes and imagine a high school player with mad skills in a sick Five Ultimate jersey (one of our program sponsors – THANK YOU FIVE!) and shorts dropping some knowledge on an adorable, wide-eyed, brand new player whose hand can hardly fit around the rim of the disc, but is ripping out a sweet flick nonetheless while a proud facilitator in a Five Ultimate side-zip watches on with tears in her eyes.