Friday, March 13, 2009

My Second Take on Team USA

Now that team USA has been announced, I thought I would discuss some opinions on each player, but first I would like to congratulate each on such an accomplishment. We appreciate your efforts and look forward to seeing you defend our title.

Gwen Ambler - Excellent!! So glad she made the team. Lets just hope she doesn't get relegated to alternate status again. I don't watch too much women's ultimate, but one image that does pop into my head when I think of it is Gwen in the Club National Finals last year against Riot. This game will remain in infamy long after I stop paying attention to the sport (sorry Miranda), and Gwen was definitely very instrumental in the victory. I know from interviewing her that she has played every position for Fury, but as a deep in their zone, she completely turned the tables on Riot and took away their long game. Gwen is also a sterling role model for all players in this sport, myself included, and I'm really happy for her.

Sammy C-K - Another great selection by Greg and the rest of the crew. Sammy is such an amazing player but I also think that he is perfect to represent the red, white and blue. My first exposure to Sammy was back in 2003 at Beware-O, a hat tournament in San Mateo, CA. He was on my team, along with Greenough, and he made a play that I still can remember vividly. A game winning trailing edge layout chest high hammer goal from Josh. I was a naive young Squid at the time and didn't really know what I was witnessing, but the guy is just plain good. He, like Gwen, is a great role model in our sport. A veteran leader for Sockeye and never the source of any sort of controversy or poor sportsmanship. I really wanted MC on the team, but I think Sammy CK is a great choice.

Cara Crouch - I know of Cara because I have a few Texas friends and they all speak very fondly of her and Tank. Apparently, the consensus seems to be that they will produce the most talented Ultimate offspring ever. I for one don't really date women in Ultimate, but I am glad that some folks are going to produce some 2nd generation talent. I also like that Texas got some love when so many players were from Atlanta, Boulder, San Francisco or Seattle.

Deb Cussen - Now that the selections have been made, I need to start getting comfortable with previous Team USA members on the 2009 team. To make me feel better, I need to remember that winning Gold is the bottom line and considering the fact that Team Canada should be a considerable challenge, we really need the best from the USA and Deb is one of them. Her experience in Germany will be very important because she is a veteran handler and generating a consistent offensive game plan will be a major challenge. She saw the field more than any other female 4 years ago, playing in 94 out of 132 possible points. She also caught 3 goals and threw for one in the 15-14 Australia pool play game and got two more goals in the Gold medal game against the Aussies. She will be quite an asset.

Jolian Dahl - From what I hear, Jolian was the best tryout in Sarasota and from watching him over the last few years, I am not surprised. He seems to be a freak athlete with the fundamentals of a much squirrlier player. I'm not sure what kind of role he will fill on USA because he was a very solid leader for Mamabird, yet seemed like a role player for Bravo. He is one of 4 Bravo Team USA members and I'm sure like every JB-er from 2007, representing the US after missing the opportunity a few years back is something each will cherish.

Kathy Dobson - I'm not too familiar with Kathy but I do know that she has been a standout for Brutesquad for the last few years as well as the coach of BU's Ozone Pilots. In college she was All Region the first 3 years they had the award (her Junior, Senior, and 1st year Grad) and she made the Finals of College Nationals in 2003 with MIT. She has also helped Gwen out with I was really surprised to see only 1 Boston Area player on Team USA, so she definitely has a lot of pressure on her to represent, but I get the feeling it'll just be another day at the office.

Liz Duffy - Once again, I wasn't too familiar with Liz before she was chosen, but in doing a little research, I am glad to see her on this very short list. For starters, she is a PhD-er like myself in Marine Biology at the University of Washington, not to mention a veteran Captain for Riot. Peripheral to Team USA, she is also representing the Red, White and Blue as a part of Ultimate Peace this April in Israel. Definitely a standout Ultimate player that will represent our country well, on and off the field.

Cate Foster - Another women's player I don't know a whole lot about but one thing I do really like about Cate is that she built herself a program at College of Charleston. One of the things I have noticed a lot among many elite players is that they have no idea what it is like to be in the trenches and don't appreciate how frustrating/hard it is to work with low numbers and shallow talent pools. Many criticize lack of organization and commitment, but they underestimate the challenges of building infrastructure. Her personality also seems to be a bonus and I look forward to seeing her do well in the coming months.

Cree Howard - Cree definitely has a lot of pressure on her with this selection because she is the only active college player on the team. I remember when Zip made the team in 2005 and he blew everyone away, both in the College sphere and at World's. I think this has the capacity to spring board her towards a possible Callahan opportunity, but Cal has only been so-so this year, which might not be enough to get her the award. Regardless, Cree is one of those privileged youths like Oscar Pottinger, who will have a full trophy case well before she is even old enough to buy a house to put it in. I am always wary how such a combination of youth and success can lead to ego issues, but considering the pool of sharks she is swimming in, staying humble this summer will not be tough.

Jared Inselman - My first exposure to Jared was at the College All-Star game in 2007. Before Nationals that year I totally thought the West would pwn because they had two Callahan winners (Richter and Miranda), Ted Tripoli and Ray Illian. However, to my surprise, the East wanted it more. I remember TG and Jason Simpson played well, but I also remember the guy with "UPenn" on his back having a great game. In reading up on him I also came across a write up about an amazing display of sprit in a hotly contested game against Sockeye at Club Nationals back in 2004. I loved reading Miller's Bill Braski-esk post on RSD about him and now with his Team USA selection, we are all curious to know if Mike's accounts are accurate. I'm hoping to see him wipe his butt with a live elk.

Beau Kittredge - So Beau made the team eh? That's interesting.

Chelsea Dengler Putnam - I first heard of Chelsea back in 2003 when she and Ben Wiggins took the Ultimate world by storm earning the Callahan Awards for Oregon. However, after finishing up school we haven't heard much from her. This isn't meant as a criticism, but more of a sign of respect because she has stuck it out with Schwa the last few years, despite a less than stellar performance at Club Nationals in 2005 (11th) and no return trips to Sarasota. She could have easily played for other programs out of state like Fury or Riot, as Chase-Sparingly Beckley and Gwen Ambler have done, but she has stayed with Portland and I respect that. I'm glad that she has this chance to showcase her talents at the World's level and I bet she is as hungry as any to earn gold for her country.

Jonathan Remucal - It's funny, I know of several players from the CUT class of '98, Roger Crafts, Sam Rosenthal and Mike Caldwell, but Jon Remucal never came up on the radar. I assumed that most Bay Area talent was either Cal, Davis, Santa Cruz or Stanford and it was a nice little bit of information. Regardless, this must be an amazing year for Jon. He started playing with Jam in 2005 and despite the fact that guys like Bart, Gabe, Idris, Safdie, Jeff Eastham, Kevin Cissna, and Damien Scott get a lot of attention, I'm sure Jon has done his part to finally earn a ring. Getting an additional opportunity like this must be a great feeling and I'm sure the honor is one he will take with great humility and respect.

Steven Roussie - I don't know a ton about Rouisse but I do know that he has been involved with Boulder ultimate for a decade. He was Mamabird's Callahan nominee back in 2001 and had 6 fantasy points (2 goals, 4 assists) in the National Finals against CUT that year. He is also from Amherst, MA and was a guest Counselor at NUTC back in 2004. I find it interesting that such a veteran was chosen over younger Bravo standouts like Richter, Tripoli, and Mac Taylor, but I suppose that is just a testament to his abilities. If I had to guess, he will probably fill the leadership role that guys like Namking, Deaver, and Kubalanza did four years ago.

Gabe Saunkeah - I remember when Gabe was an undergrad at Cal and since 2005 he has been a solid handler for Jam. However, one of the most striking examples of his abilities came to me during a game he wasn't even playing in. Last year in Sarasota, Gabe went down with some sort of injury, in Semifinals against Bravo I believe, and was unable to play in the Finals. During the Finals, I was in the crow's nest watching the game and reading off emails that were being sent in during the live broadcast. On more than one occasion, players like Nick Menzies and Oscar Pottinger (both from Furious), emailed in asking about Gabe's playing status. Given the fact that Jam has so much talent to pay attention to, I overlooked his absence, but apparently Furious' D-line didn't, a clear sign of well deserved respect.

Adam "Chicken" Simon - After playing pickup with/against Chicken the last month or so, I'm not surprised at all that he made Team USA. His skill sets are very diverse and there isn't much he can't do on the field. He can cut, play D, handle, the works and I think it will be very easy for Greg to integrate him into the Team USA game plan, not to mention the other team he coaches.

Dylan Tunnell - In taking a look at the roster, it is pretty obvious that Team USA is going to be hugtastic and Dylan is no exception. He is such a moose and much like Sammy-CK, Beau, Jolian, Jared and Seth Wiggins, he will be a tough matchup. I'm not surprised Dylan made the squad and given the effort he has put into Georgia and Chain Lightning (not to mention NUTC), it is nice to see him get this opportunity. However, I have two concerns with respect to the big guys on Team USA. 1) Will all of them make the team? You can't have an entire team of downfield players can you? I wonder if Bart, Jon, Chicken, Gabe, and Steve benefit or suffer from being a bit smaller than these guys and I wonder who's official spots on Team USA are safer. 2) Can this collection of monster athletes be sewn together just right? Team Canada's men are all over the place with smaller scrappy players guys like Oscar Pottinger and Alex Hughes as well as guys like Hassell and Ouchterlony who are taller and more graceful (well Hassel, anyway). I'm sure Team USA will be no different in the end, but it will make the alternate selections all the more interesting.

Bart Watson - Like Deb Cussen, I was a bit put-off by having former members on Team USA, but Bart is a very good choice. As far as I know, he is the only college player to make it to the College Finals with two different teams (Stanford 2002, Cal 2004) winning in 2002. In addition, he has been a staple for Jam since at least 2003 and his most recent title is just an indication of the determination and commitment he has as a player. Off the field he is equally respectable as a PhD student in Political Science at Cal. He made a fine US representative in 2005 and 2009 will be no different.

Alicia White - I was stoked to see Alicia White on the tryout list, not to mention the "made it" list for the same reason I liked seeing her win Gold in Vancouver, she's a fellow UCSD alum. Her last year as a Psycho was my first year as a Squid and I remember very clearly that she was heads and shoulders above everyone else. Now that she has a few rings/medals, it makes the awe I felt back then all the more real and I am really proud of her. Plus, she was always nice to me and let me into the RIMAC gym when I'd forget my ID.

Seth Wiggins - Like Sammy CK, my first exposure to Seth was at Beware-O in '03 and it wasn't pretty. I remember Greenough warning us about his antics before the game and in looking over at the sideline, I got the impression that he was just another cocky jock. However, over the last few months, my opinion of Seth has changed dramatically. He has been very friendly the few times I've met him and despite being on the other side of the Furious/Sockeye rivalry, was very reasonable and objective when we've discussed the finer points of the game. Like the Boulder group, it is interesting to see who made it from the Team USA/Sockeye crowd, and I'm sure he is ready for another shot at Gold.

Closing Thoughts
The next step in the process for Team USA is the selection of the 13 players that will go to Worlds and the 7 that will not. I know it sucks being an "alternate" but I suppose the main thing to keep in mind is that out of the hundreds of applicants and 80 tryouts, you were chosen. Such an accolade is something each of these players will carry with them the rest of their careers and while it might not get them a medal or a ring, there are literally thousands of players that would gladly be so lucky. As I have stated before, this honor should be met with a great deal of humility and respect and I think we will get nothing less. The selection process has been so intense this time around and everyone involved knows what is at stake.

Yeah and Yale won High Tide....siiiiick.

just my thoughts

match diesel


BH said...

Bart may be the only male player to accomplish this feat, but Miranda Roth did it in 2004 with Carleton and 2005 with Washington. Her team lost both games, but she was unquestionably the best player on the field each time.

parinella said...

Mike G won with both UNCW (1993) and ECU (1994-1995), didn't he?

And I'm guessing that frisbee women don't date you, not vice versa.

brodie said...

Wondering what you thought of our new highlight video? You going to make it to any tournaments this year? Hows school going?

David said...

Now, young Americans are flocking to the sport, said Team America 2009 captain Gwen Ambler. There were 4.9 million ultimate frisbees players last year, up from 4 million in 2007, according to statistics cited here, and Ambler said some 600,000 of those play the sport at least 20 times a year. "Some of the growth and recognition is germinating now," Ambler said. "So I'm optimistic in the long run."