Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I love McDonald's french fries. On road trips they're one of my (many) guilty pleasures. Piping hot and salty, regardless of where I am in the country I know what I'm getting when I place my order. That's a little funny to think about, really. Stick any dufus behind the fryer and they can make french fries as tasty as someone three states away. Plug in a dufus, get delicious fries. So, what's the secret?
There is no secret. It's not the dufus, it's the system. McDonald's fries taste great regardless who made them because McDonald's has a great system that works, for all its employees, regardless of where they are.
So what am I trying to say? I just got done watching the Youth Club Championships, and saw a lot of great talent there. But a lot of that talent will go to some college and die out, be extinguished among a field of mediocrity, or never reach its full potential. The best teams in the country, with perennial successes, reach that pinnacle not because they're relying on the best players to come to their school, but because they take those players that come to the school and make them the best they can be.
Mr. Seattle Defensive Captain can think we're cocky and arrogant because we came with merchandise to give away and to present ourselves as players and alumni from a successful team, but speaking for the two programs I know most about, Colorado and Wisconsin, their success is driven by their ability to find the smallest talent in every one of their players and expanding it to its maximum.
This sport is growing exponentially in high school. Being a player on a good YCC team no longer translates into immediate success in college. The level of play jumps dramatically, and without knowledgeable and experience leaders, players are left stunted in their ability to grow their skills.
When we won in 2003, Charles Kerr called Wisconsin "the faceless army and Hector" (he signaled me out not for my skill, but because when you've got corn-rows and dark skin you stick out in Wisconsin). The facelessness of Wisconsin has only increased, and most teams don't know the bottom half of the team. But it's this bottom half that does the legwork, squeezing turns out of their match-ups and showcasing Wisconsin's depth while their studs hold down the other teams' stars. But for those kids in Blaine this weekend that feel like they're holding the Golden Ticket to college disc, consider my friends:
Parker Krug, Richter, Muffin, Shane Hohenstein, Andrew Brown, Beau, Drew Mahowald, Mac Taylor...these are all names now, and if you're anyone in this sport you should know all of them. And not a single one was a HS stud. Some never even played before getting to college. But they chose a school with people that saw their talent and coaxed it out using proven and tested methods of training, development, and mentorship between veterans and rookies that allow them now to be some of the most respected names in club ultimate, bitching people you'd otherwise bother for an autograph.
It's the system. CU has one. Wisconsin has one that's been in constant evolution and refinement, demanding the most from its players and doubling their investments in return, and for all the hard work it takes, no one regrets their efforts at season's end. No one. That's why they seem cocky to you, and arrogant, because they tested themselves against the most gruelling training they could and finished. What happened at Nationals after that was the reward of their brow sweat. And if it comes off as swagger, so be it. They survived. They won. They've earned it. You wouldn't understand.
And every season, in September, it's available in Madison to the 25 dudes who want it most. Don't be angry if you don't make it; it takes more than flair to be the best. And if you don't believe me, maybe next time a Hodag is trying to talk to you about the program, just ask them. They know all about the system.