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Ultimate Frisbee tournament shows SRSC's growth
A player from Williams College (right) looks to make an inbounds pass against Elon University in an Ultimate Frisbee game on Saturday at the Smith River Sports Complex in Martinsville. (Bulletin photo by Mark Thompson)
Sunday, March 17, 2013
By MARK THOMPSON - Bulletin Sports Editor
Nineteen Division III women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams descended on the pitch at the Smith River Sports Complex (SRSC) on Saturday to compete in the Virginia is for Layouts skill building tournament.
For most of them, spring break was either just starting or just ending.
For the SRSC, it was just one more indication of the complex’s growth in general and with the sport.
In it’s first year, the complex hosted two Ultimate tournaments. This year it has seven. And the Virginia is for Layouts, which started Saturday and finishes today, is the third Ultimate tournament held at the SRSC in five weeks.
“Our goals are obviously to retain money to cover our costs, but also to be an economic driver in the community,” SRSC director of operations Billy Russo said. “And so obviously, all these people are staying in hotels.
“They love the hotels. They love the restaurants. They like the area. They usually play in cities, but I’ve heard from a lot of them that they like to come out to rural parts.”
The Virginia is for Layouts was more than a normal tournament. Michelle Ng, the tournament’s director, arranged to fly in instructors from across the country to teach skills clinics. Most of the instructors played on elite level club teams, but all of them have years of experience in the sport.
And on Saturday night, the tournament featured a showcase game comprised of the instructors and one selected member from each team.
“It’s just kind of a chance for some of these players and teams to just hang out and watch some Ultimate (and) buy some food from the concession stand,” Ng said. “Just enjoying some good weather, hopefully.”
Although some of the teams at the Virginia is for Layouts had been to the SRSC before, for others, it was the first trip.
“I prefer grass,” said Milo Scrafford, from Cornell University. “We’ve played on turf all season, so I was happy to see grass.”
Her teammate, Elena Arnosky, added that she was impressed with the landscaping and layout of the complex.
“I’m a landscape and architecture student,” she added.
And Russo and the SRSC staff are hoping most who use the complex feel the same way.
Ng certainly did, and has now been a part of a handful of Ultimate tournaments at the SRSC and has recommended it as a host location to other tournament directors she knows.
“It’s in a good location,” Ng said. “It’s within driving distance for a lot of teams like from Virginia, North Carolina, D.C., even as far as Pennsylvania, so that’s awesome. The facilities here are great. The fields are always in good shape and can take a lot of rain. … It’s just a good overall experience.”
Russo said the goal is to fill the SRSC every day. He’s seen plenty of growth, and because of it, the SRSC is eyeing some improvements for the future.
“I don’t think we’ll expand field-wise right now, but I do think that we can do some upgrades to the actual facility, whether it be through locker rooms, we’re looking at doing that maybe,” Russo said. “And then also, we’d like to add seating to host bigger events and with that, added parking. That would be a key too. … It all depends on funding.”
And funding, of course, gets boosted with more tournaments, which Russo has certainly seen more of.