Thursday, May 19, 2011

Callahan Profile: Anne Mercier (Ottawa)

In this Callahan profile, we ask Anne Mercier from the University of Ottawa Lady Gee Gees, and one of her captains, Kathryn "K-Poh" Pohran, to answer some questions. Anne is a standout player with all of the throws in the book, makes athletic plays, and leads on and off the field. Keep reading for more about this fantastic Callahan nominee!

First some questions for Anne...

1. How long have you been playing ultimate? What teams have you played for?
Anne with a handblock at CUUC in Fall '10

This year is my 9th year playing ultimate. I started in grade 9 because my older brother was on my high school's team. I made the juniors team that summer and the rest is history.

I played on the following competitive teams (in somewhat chronological order):
- Ottawa Juniors (2003-2004)
- Stella (2005-2009)
- Capitals (2005-2007, 2009-2011)
- WJUC Team Canada Junior Women's Team (2006)
- WUGC Team Canada Women's Team (2008)
- Traffic (2008)
- Alternate on Team Canada World Games Team (2009)
- Lotus (2010)

3. Offense or defense?
Ugh, I started off on D, and I really love it (still do!)... But I guess O is now my "thing".

3. Give us 5 words to describe your playing style.
Calm, Composed, Hucks, Breaks, Aggressive.

4. What is your strongest ability as a leader?
I've been told before that I have a calming presence on the field, coupled with the ability to pump up teammates with my playing. It's a good combination to bring silent confidence and to pump up my team during big games.

5. Tell us about your most embarrassing moment.
I don't think I know you well enough to reveal my deepest, darkest secrets =). [Editor's Note: I've been told that something that Anne and I have in common is a love for teddy bears. I also know a few other things, but I will respect Anne's desire for privacy... for now...]

6. What is your favorite memory with the Gee Gees?
Last year's regionals. Game to go to the game to go vs UPenn. After coming out on top of a tough game with them the day before, we started off this game really flat, going down something stupid like 8-2 or 8-3. We worked really hard point for point, until we ended up winning on universe. Winning that game was definitely a really high point, knowing that we had that fight in us. The next game, for the game to go to nationals, we were then on the receiving end of a similar come back. We were up 11-7 on Maryland, and they came back and won the game 13-12. Although it wasn't my favorite moment at the time, it's given our team the focus, drive and determination that we needed this year. As a good portion of the team is returning this year, I like to think back at that moment and see how far we've come as a team... and how much more we want it this year.

Now…some questions for K-Poh...

1. We all know Anne is a great player. What sets Anne apart as a teammate?
Anne is someone who is looked up to by every player on every team regardless of their own experience in the game. What sets Anne apart from the pack is that she is constantly trying to improve her own game - whether this is by talking about or working through strategies, throwing for hours, or going all-out at practices - and isn't fazed or complacent from the hype (well-deserved, might I add) that surrounds her as a player. This year, though she has stepped out of a captains role, Anne constantly is a role model for every player on the team, through the way that she conducts herself in what she says and how she interacts with other teammates, as well as how she devotes herself to the game. She has a game-maturity well-beyond her years.

2. What is the most important thing Anne has taught you?
While I've been playing with Anne since 2004, the more recent years on Capitals and uOttawa have led to numerous lessons about the game, as we've both developed as players. Through watching her play, and playing with her, Anne consistently exemplifies that one of the most important things in ultimate is to work through it, even if it's hard. Whether this is on offense or defense, in a game or a practice situation, you have to push through. Anne is someone who always strives for the best, and you can see this from what she does in practices, as well as how she plays in games: if a certain throw is difficult, Anne practices to make sure she is comfortable in that situation in case it occurs in a game; if a defensive point is taking forever, Anne will push through and even give'r to make the layout bid for the turn. You don't get better if you don't take control over what is difficult for you, and Anne has taught me that through words and actions.

3. Talk about a play or moment from this season that defines Anne in your mind.
Anne has such a gift of teaching ultimate and giving feedback about the game... This situation has happened way more than once in my career with Anne, but this specific instance comes from the ME Regionals of this year. We were on the field playing offense against a zone, and Anne was back handling with two other players. We had been tweaking a particular zone offense over the week before, and Anne had been an active part of that strategy. So, as Anne is swung the disc and the cup is setting up on her she proceeds to hold the disc and give a tutorial about where the offense should be going in order to run the system and be more effective. Pretty sure it took about 6-7 stalls, after which Anne calmly reset the disc and offensive flow went on as usual. Typical Anne - I love it.

4. 5 words describing Anne
Calm, Strategic, Respect, Passion, Intense

5. What is Anne's role on Ottawa U? Describe how she fits that role.
While Anne is not a listed captain this year (sometimes school has to become a priority), her role on the Lady Gee Gees could likely be classified as an "unofficial member of the leadership" as well as a great teammate. Having captained for 3 years prior as well as having as much competitive experience as she does, her opinions and feedback are highly considered and she contributes to strategy and the many discussions that are had. She is a great source of knowledge - you can often see her and our coach Ken Alexander having strategic conversations on the sideline during tournaments. Aside from her strategic leadership, Anne is a great voice in the huddle, pumping up the team before we step on the field.

6. How does Anne's experience playing club and juniors help Ottawa?
Growing up through the competitive system, Anne has had the opportunity to play at almost every level there is. She has played on Juniors and Womens teams at tournaments around the world, representing Canada on the national team several times. With the experiences that she has had, Anne knows what it means to start with nothing, and what has to be done to achieve an extremely high level of play. She has played against the best, and played with the best, and being able to bring that experience to our college team is fantastic. Like I've said before, Anne is a role model, not because of how good she is but because of the work that she's done to get there. Her numerous experiences make her a valuable asset, not only as a player and what she brings to the team on the field, but also as an example of what can be achieved with hard work and a passion for the game.

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