Tips from TD's: how to join a tournament at the last minute

Posted on: on Mar 22, 2018 12:20:37 PM



For this post, we talked to three tournament directors (TD's) from around the country: Jesse Kovacs, TD of Carolina Kickoff and Queen City Tune Up; Hill Balliet, TD of DIII Southwest Conference, DIII Warmup, and SoCal Mixer; and Kyra Catabay, TD of Without Limits (Commonwealth Cup, Mash-Up, I-85 Rodeo, Heavyweights, and Midwest Throwdown).


There's a lot demanding an ultimate captain's attention in college season. Apart from planning practices, rostering players, and drawing up the latest and greatest plays, captains and coaches must also be on the (flat)ball in submitting bids to a number of tournaments in the spring.


Let's face it: sometimes things just fall through the cracks. For instance - sometimes you realize half-way through spring season that your schedule won't get you to the 10 sanctioned games required by USAU to be ranked.


Next thing you know you're scrambling to find a tournament and put a last minute bid together.


To help captains register for a tournament after the deadline (and help TD's get what they need), we talked to three TD's for advice.


The first one is a bit obvious... 



Avoid it if you can

We want to be clear here - just because you can (sometimes) sign up for an ultimate tournament late, doesn't mean you should.


Plan A should be to schedule your team's tournaments early and to carefully read all the information TD's share about their events.


Here are some possible negative outcomes your team could face by signing up late:


A bad schedule
"Odds are if you're joining late, you probably wont' get re-seeded and will just have to take whatever the TD can give you." - Jesse Kovacs
Limited and expensive travel options
"Teams can miss out on hotel room availability and incur additional flight costs due to last minute ticket purchases. They may also miss out on some of the hotel information or sponsors for the event." - Kyra Catabay
Higher bid fee
"We do have the bid fee increase as time goes on, so late teams may end up paying a higher bid fee the longer they wait." -Hill Balliet
A bad reputation
"Even if it's a returning team, if [a team is] slow and not on the ball, I will be less likely to invite them back as compared to a first-time team that has everything together and ahead of schedule." -Jesse Kovacs
Not getting to attend

The worst outcome of all! It's at the TD's discretion to let you in, so if the event fills up and the TD doesn't want to make room for you, your team will miss out.


Now that the disclaimer of why you shouldn't sign up late is out of the way, here's how you can do your best to stay on the TD's good side and get added to the tournament!



Communication is key!

Generally, TD's want to accommodate ultimate teams - last minute or otherwise. But they've also got a lot of planning to do!


Here's how you can be respectful of the TD's time:

Come prepared
"If you are late, you should be on top of everything because there are probably 4-5 more teams just like you. So you want to show that you will make it the easiest it can be for the TD to add your team." - Jesse Kovacs
"Have information about the team prepared. Often my next questions are: 'Who is your team? Who have you played?' and similar questions to figure out if [you're] a good fit for the tournament." - Hill Balliet
Be responsive and offer help
"Stay in contact and check in to see if there's anything you can do preemptively. It's a lot to ask, but if you're joining late, it will definitely help your chances of getting in if you're going out of your way to make the TD's job a little easier." - Jesse Kovacs
Be patient and understanding
"A last minute add means we'll have to redo the entire bracketing process. Many TD's (if they have room) would be happy to add you late, but please respect that it usually means an overhaul of the schedule. Last minute teams that have everything prepared on their end make this much more bearable." -Kyra Catabay


Show you're committed

An even worse of a headache for a TD than a team that wants to join at the last minute is a team that drops out or disappears at the last minute.


By showing that you're committed to attending, the tournament director is more likely to take your bid seriously and try to make space for you.

Get that bid fee ready
"If [a team] is ready, they should definitely have their payment ready. It's less about the money and more about a sign of good faith that the team is committed to coming." -Kyra Catabay
"Teams that are slow to pay make the TD's life a little harder. Demonstrating that you are ready and able to pay the bid fee will go a lot to further in securing a spot last minute." -Hill Balliet
"The quicker you can pay the bid fee, the better. Most of these tournaments act as fundraisers. The quicker we can square away the money aspect, the quicker we can move forward to the fun stuff." -Jesse Kovacs
Prep your travel logistics
"When filling out the registration form and emailing us about the space, also send us information on logistics like travel and hotel plans. Getting rid of the barriers that would inhibit [you] from coming says a lot about [your] team's commitment." -Kyra Catabay

Use your edge

TD's might have a waitlist of ultimate teams trying to join their event. Here are some strategies you can use to get your team first in line:

Show your spirit!
"I consider spirit in outlier cases (good or bad). So including information about winning spirit awards and the like can surely make a difference in who we accept." - Hill Balliet
"Creative bids have definitely aided in [their team's] acceptance, historically. If two teams are evenly matched in terms of their talent, I'm always going to choose the team who is known for their spirit and is fun to play against, rather than a poor-spirited team." -Jesse Kovacs
Network and build relationships
"Start to develop personal relationships with TD's. If you regularly attend our events and build relationships, we're more likely to accommodate a late add in an extenuating circumstance because we know your team and can vouch for you." -Kyra Catabay
"Don't force your way in because we don't have to let you in. Be respectful if things don't go your way." -Jesse Kovacs

And if you do get let in at the last minute...

be sure to thank the TD!
"Say thank you! Multiple times. This goes a long way! If we accommodate and let you in, introduce yourself to us at Tournament Central. We'd love to meet you." -Kyra Catabay


Over to you!

Have you organized tournaments in your city or region? What advice would you give new captains when the clock is counting down? Share with us in the comments below!



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