Nashville Ultimate Machine, or NUM, is the primary organizing body of ultimate frisbee activity in Nashville. With a board of volunteers working tirelessly to organize sponsorship of club teams and recreational leagues, NUM is at the forefront of ultimate in Nashville, pushing the sport ever forward. A lot of this involves growing community relations, which recently has primarily manifested itself in NUM’s youth outreach. In addition, several NightWatch players currently serve—or have served—on NUM’s board, including Jake Wright (chairman), Ryan Balch (president), Will Hannon (fields coordinator), Bryan Griffith (communications coordinator), Craig Stewart, and Jon Meade.
This past weekend, NUM took yet another step in collaborating with Nashville’s club teams to sponsor the Nashville Ultimate Clinic and Combine. While a big part of the event involved Nashville’s club teams Encore (women’s), Hairy Otter (mixed), Trash Pandas (mixed), Blade (open), and NME (open) representing themselves and recruiting players to the Nashville club scene through a low key combined tryout, the major focus of the day was the clinic, which was designed to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment to younger or newer players to gain skills and experience on the field and join in on the fun.
Emily Harrell, a former NUM board member and current Encore player, and Tony Heath, a player from the 2015 NightWatch roster, were the primary organizers of the event, working with the NightWatch and local club teams for volunteer support and the NUM Board for cost sponsorship. While Harrell notes that the idea for the event started out as a “hardcore combine and a full scale Nashville tryout… [it] morphed into a community-centered grassroots opportunity for the club teams to give back.” Before the event, Harrell and Heath sat down with the leadership of club teams to hammer out the vision of the event and details of the schedule, refining the ideas of youth involvement and continuing to evolve the combine concept.
Thus, the clinic was formed, matching experienced ultimate players with the less experienced populace of Nashville in a mentor-mentee relationship. Several of the NightWatch players volunteered for the event, with Paul Lally, Tyler Conger, Andy Barnhart, John Carden, Will Hannon, Adam Paicely, and Bryan Griffith all spending their Saturday morning running drills and teaching skills. Each of the clubs sent several players as well, highlighted by Encore, Nashville’s premier women’s squad, which yielded the strongest presence at both the clinic and the combine. All told, Harrell reported a good number of high school and college players attending the clinic.
One of the most common challenges to ultimate communities like Nashville is the growth and expansion of the sport in the city through the youth in that city. This past Saturday, NUM, the NightWatch, and a united Nashville club scene worked together against such challenges to help grow the sport they love in their city.