AUDL Versus Club Ultimate
In a league that is, for the most part, still only able to pay for travel expenses for players, the AUDL doesn’t have the resources to draw all the best talent in the country—let alone the world (although the US does have many of the best players). So, high as the level of play was, it certainly isn’t close to being able to nab all of the best of the best in the sport.
In club Ultimate on the other hand, teams compete in the club series all over the country against one another during the regular season, then during two qualifying tournaments that whittle down the teams— sectionals and then regionals. Eventually, 16 teams make it out of the different regional tournaments to compete for the title at nationals. That said, Rainwater and Dulabon each likened the level of play in the AUDL to club regionals, with certain teams getting a shot at the national stage if they play in the right place at the right time.
Rainwater added that the commitment level and amount of travel was not much of an issue for him, since he plays somewhere just about every weekend anyway. However, Smith and Dulabon differed on that front. Dulabon said the weekly games were more of a grind than club, as there was never a decent period of time for his cuts and small wounds to heal—he just kept reopening most of them on dives and slides. For Smith, the travel and playing on the road made things a bit more difficult.
“You have one team sleeping in their beds at night, waking up the next day getting ready for the game, while another team travels eight or so hours on a bus and then gets off at some random place they’re not used to with a crowd that’s rooting against them,” he says.
There’s also the concern of getting your body ready for one all-out game as opposed to enduring a full weekend of playing. In the end though, the training is still very similar between club and the AUDL, and they’re really just two slightly different versions of the game in different leagues.
“At this point, I think good training for the sport is good training,” Dulabon says. “Whether it is for the AUDL or USAU. The same attributes will make a player dominate in both: Speed, vertical, and ability to quickly change direction.”