The academy experience

When we initially launched this adventure, we had a notion of what we wanted to do, but not to which extent. It all seemed nice and easy: open tryouts for an academy team. However, when the applications started rolling in, it was clear that we had garnered more people than we expected. The amount of responses was overwhelming and it was clear that ‘just tryouts’ wouldn’t be the correct approach. After sitting down with management and assistant coach Nissa, we agreed to make multiple teams as we had plenty of players and coaches to pick from. Since we were also going to do it on a larger scale, we felt like it was also good to have it streamed, this way we could shine some light on the players that were present in the Benelux player pool. What I personally loved the most, was that we had people apply that we had never heard about before. This once again confirmed how many more players we can still find and reach out to.

100 applicants, where to start, where to end

Next up was the hard task of going through all applications and picking the right players to fill out our teams. When going through applications, the process wasn’t just about picking the highest ranked candidates, but also about who had the best application. In the end, you try to choose a player and a person, instead of only a player. We chose to create 6 teams (Alpha-Foxtrot) to start with the first round of tryouts. Teams were put together based on their application, to see if players and coaches were able to identify the strengths of their roster and utilize them properly.

We survived day 1, now what?

When the first round concluded, we had to continue our selection process to determine which players were going to move on to the second round. As stated above, we didn’t straight up go for the best performing members. We also took other factors into consideration, as we wanted to see how players behaved in a team environment for example. As this was also our first time holding tryouts in such a format, it was an interesting experience seeing how committed coaches and players were. Teams planned to play and practice beforehand, coaches did preparations for their own team and the enemy; everyone was giving it their all. This was refreshing to see as everyone was here to try their best to get a spot on the team.

“Something that was clear, is that the passion was very present and the caliber of competition was still high.”

Sadly enough, every competition has winners and losers

As with these kinds of competitions, people also had to be disappointed. After the first round we tried to move forward with the players we thought had the most potential. Some choices were easy, and allowed for quick decisions, where other choices were extremely hard to make. Eventually we got to 4 new teams each with their own coach. Something that was clear, is that the passion was very present and the caliber of competition was still high. Games were back and forth most of the time and picking players to form 2 final teams for the final phase was even harder than the previous round.

As with all tryouts, some decisions were outside of our control, meaning that some players chose not to pursue further rounds as they had found a team or had other tryouts going on. Therefore, some choices were made for us instead of by us.

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