Commentator Series: Bex Forth
With the 2018 season wrapped up, we began to brainstorm about who we could get on our blog to recap some of the exciting events, stories, and games that happened throughout the year. Finally we thought who better to help us look back at this incredible summer than the people who have been analyzing it the whole time: commentators!
Welcome to our latest series. For the next few weeks, we will be posting articles and interviews with some of the best commentators in the game right now to get their two cents on what went on this summer. These people put in so much time making ultimate an even more enjoyable product, and we thought they deserved the spotlight.
The series starts with Bex Forth. We hope you enjoy our Commentator Series.
Hi Bex, why don't you open by giving us a quick background on your ultimate experience and your commentating experience!
Ultimate experience (the headlines): GB International player for 24 years, World Games 2013, WUGC 1996-2012, WUCC 1995-2014 (5th, 4th, 4th), WCBU 2013-2017 (3rd, 3rd, 3rd), Captained European champions Bliss and Iceni, GB and EuroStars. Captain and Coach of EuroStars 2017-2018. 11x World Beach Cup Champion. Current Showdown Player.
Commentating experience - NONE. I've done plenty of interviews and as I've been coaching internationally for well over 15 years, the analysis aspect is similar. I believe the invite to commentate was based on live interviews/podcasts with Ultiworld.
What was the best part of USAU Club Nationals for you?
It was compact. The field site felt like all divisions and games were connected. This increased the buzz and kept players near the action. The weather was good and San Diego is lovely - this all helps.
Did you see something different this year than other years? Maybe more people attending certain games?
Differences I saw this year included players watching more games in the earlier rounds. Because the layout was more compact, there was less trudging between games and gave players the time to come across a close contest and chill and watch for a while. It's a huge bonus for the atmosphere. I saw many more instances of calculated injury substitutions than i've really ever seen before. Particularly at crucial moments and allowing for a top player to come on. Some definitely seemed calculated and in one case I actually predicted it before it happened. It's not a change that I welcome.
How was your experience commentating this year?
It was a really great experience. It was the first time I've commentated so I was on a very steep learning curve and I was trying to pick up on skills that the experienced commentators had. Initially I was nervous to force my opinion on the listeners but after about the first half I'd shaken that feeling and spoke what came naturally to me which is analysis of the game. Essentially what I do as a coach, captain and player. The mechanics of commentating isn't something I'd spent much time thinking about and that is obviously my weakness–I improved during the tournament but I know there is much to learn.
The feedback I got was very encouraging and I felt proud to be giving a female voice to analysis. I was really impressed with Keith Raynor who seems to be able to do play-by-play, analysis and take stats all at the same time. The experience also allowed me to appreciate what hard work goes on behind the scenes. So much time and energy is devoted by Ultiworld and Fulcrum to get the stories out there and we need the stories!
Anything else you'd like to add?
I really appreciated the vote of confidence Ultiworld had in me without prior commentating experience. It is so important for women to be visible in every aspect and as a push to increase female commentators taking the risk to have a newbie be a prominent voice on their stream is something I appreciate on a personal and a wider level. There was also a very balanced view about the divisions that I commentated on (all of them). Within 24hrs I noticed a difference in Open players' interactions with me. I am the same person with the same thoughts but by being visible, it increased the awareness that analysis can be successfully conducted regardless of gender. There is an ingrained cultural bias that open players know more, make better coaches, should be listened to. I am grateful that Ultiworld gave me an opportunity to help chip away at this bias. Thank you to all the wonderful commentators I worked with: Daniel Prentice, Keith Raynor, Cody Mills and Becky Thompson, to Charlie Eisenhood for providing me this great opportunity and to everyone who gave me encouraging feedback!