Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Callahan Profile: An-Chi Tsou (California)

My first love in college ultimate was the Pie Queens and though I am now years removed from the team, they will always have a special place in my heart. I have had the misfortune of missing playing with this year's Callahan nominee An-Chi Tsou on both the Pie Queens and Slackjaw by one year, but have had the privilege of both watching An-Chi play and getting to know her over the past few seasons. An-Chi is a passionate player and someone who leaves everything she has on the field. Her on-field abilities are undeniable and she is also the heart and soul of a Cal team that plays some very inspired ultimate. In this player profile, we ask An-Chi to answer some questions and then we go to her co-captain Palak Shah to give us some more insight. The Queens will be a fun team to watch in Boulder, and An-Chi will be at the center of it all. Look for her to put on a show. PQ4L.

First, we ask An-Chi some questions...

1. Describe your playing history.

I started playing ultimate in pickup games back with the locals around my undergrad (Smith College) and overseas in China and England. I’m now in my fifth season with the Berkeley Pie Queens, which has been a fantastic experience. In between college seasons I played with Brass Monkey during their last year together and then had a season with Slackjaw. In my most recent club season I was one of the captains of the Polar Bears who ended up winning the mixed club championships in Sarasota last season.

2. What is your role on the Queens this year?
I’ve played both the handler and cutter positions this year, depending on our opponent and where our coaches have thought I would have the most impact. Off the field, I’ve been working hard to help make sure that our team stays focused, takes care of themselves, and continue to have the Pie Queen spirit with fun and flair.

3. Describe your game in 5 words.
Heart, aggressive, passion, defense, rawr.

4. What is your biggest strength on the field? As a leader?
I think my biggest strength on the field is the ability to get open and put up big throws that my teammates can run down. As a leader I try to get people psyched up to play in the hudd
le with inspirational speeches, but where I think I excel is leading by example. I try to inspire my team to play and work hard by working my hardest on and off the field. I put 100% effort into making the plays and doing the training that can help us reach our goals.

5. What has your impact on college women's ultimate been? Don't be modest!
Some would say that I have started a fashion trend by wearing my headgear and mouthguard! If so, I hope it’s been helping people understand that it is really important to take care of one’s body, especially one’s brain. We’ll all need them long after our bodies give up on us from beating them up over the years on the field.

6. What's it like to be a National Champion?
Last year’s championship is something that I will always be proud of. It is an amazing feeling to know that the work that we put in last club season really paid off. It has been a great example in my life of how hard work, dedication, loyalty and sacrifice can lead to team success. It’s given me more confidence in our approach to the game, but it’s also important to remember that each season everyone starts with a 0-0 record.

And now some questions for Palak...
1. Describe An-Chi as a teammate. How has An-Chi shaped the Berkeley women's ultimate program over the past few years?

An-Chi is a born leader and has captained the Queens for the past three spring seasons. She brings an intensity and fire that is seldom matched. I think most people would agree that playing against An-Chi is truly intimidating. The rest of us work so hard on the field because An-Chi shows us how. She leads by example. She is very receptive to what does and does not work for the Queens, and establishes clear, concise goals for us to work on during practices and games. Don't be fooled by the headgear though - An-Chi is a true inspiration because she's able to couple her sassy no-nonsense attitude with appropriate silliness and fun, a crucial aspect of Pie Queen ultimate, and a huge contributor to our success.

2. Describe a memory from this season that defines An-Chi in your mind.
At the Stanford Invite this year, we played Stanford in a showcase game in their football stadium. Partially through the game, An-Chi runs onto the field into our huddle, fresh (well... "fresh") off a plane and a harried car ride from the airport to join us. She was physically and mentally exhausted, but found a way to give us a big smile and tell us that we were going to tear it up. An-Chi has a way of pumping the Queens up with her presence, and we were able to come back from a 6-9 deficit to win the game 14-12.

3. You've been playing ultimate for a long time. What makes An-Chi stand out as a teammate, player, and leader?
An-Chi is able to do something that all captains and coaches aspire to do: light a fire in our bellies. From my own experience, I know how difficult it is to motivate a team that's down, to help a group regain focus and battle, even when it feels like we've already lost. But An-Chi is able to do that; she helps our team play with confidence and swagger.

4. Anything else you want to say about An-Chi?
B***** is fierce. Don't mess.

What do others have to say about An-Chi?
Leaders I respect the most are ones that lead by example. An-Chi is a match-up nightmare for any team we played, she cut open with ease and was a terror on defense. One of my favorite receivers to throw to, cause she has speed that very few women can match and also once she got the disc she was just as dangerous. These few reasons are what make it so easy and inspiring to play on a team for An-Chi, and also honored and excited to line up along side of her.
- Lucas Dallmann, Polar Bears #35

An-chi Tsou. She is an inspirational leader. She is a fierce competitor. She is a tireless teammate. She is one of the most passionate slices of pie on the UC Berkeley Pie Queens. I have had the amazing privilege of sharing a jersey and a field with this woman for the past three years and I truly believe she deserves Callahan recognition. As a captain she leads by example - playing with a sort of graceful ferocity. On both defense and offense, she is a force to be reckoned with, in her bright blue headgear she continually runs the show. Not only does An-chi dominate on the field, she has also dedicated countless hours to the UCB ultimate program. Her enthusiasm for the sport is contagious (she certainly has me hooked) and her impact on the program and its players is undoubtedly far-reaching. An-chi Tsou is an amazing athlete. She is a generous and caring friend. She is, most definitely, a Pie Queen for life.
- Claire Desmond, California #51

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