Monday, May 16, 2011

Callahan Profile: Sophie Herscu (Colorado College)

Sophie Herscu is a player near and dear to our hearts, as we have had the opportunity to get to know her quite well over the past two seasons. She is a phenomenal player, an outstanding leader, and the kind of person you are proud to call your friend. In this Callahan profile, we ask Sophie some fun questions, and also get the lowdown from her coach Emily Anderson.

First, some questions for Sophie...

1. When did you start playing ultimate? What teams have you played for?
I played summer league for a couple of years before 7th and 8th grade before I decided I liked ultimate. Amherst, MA has a plethora of opportunity to play and learn about ultimate, so it isn't surprising that I discovered the sport early on. Following in my (younger) brothers’ footsteps in their commitment to the sport, I decided to try out for the Middle School travel team. This was a coed team with a fantastic coach, Jim Pistrang, that primarily played High Schools from the area. Since then it has been a done deal. I love ultimate! Before I came to college I played on Amherst Middle School, Amherst High School, and the New England Buda YCC team. Since I graduated high school I have played on the Disc Dragons in Israel, Colorado College Lysistrata's Tools, and the CO club teams Rare Air and Molly Brown.

2. What is your strongest asset as a player? As a leader?

My strength in ultimate comes from my energy. I can be relentlessly positive, and love to run for long periods of time. It has been my pleasure to captain LT for the past three years. As a leader I try to lead by example: if I can stay positive, energetic, and supportive, and if I can shut down my man and take care to always make the best decisions possible, my teammates will follow suit. While I have spent so many hours perfecting my throws and cuts, the most important aspect of my game and leadership ability comes from being able to see the bigger picture. I am able to create and comprehend strategy, and am able to see what needs to get done on O or D. I seem to be able to stay motivated myself and to inspire others to reach those goals. I am able to notice even the subtle ways in which the players on my team can improve, and believe that I can communicate how to improve them both positively and effectively.

3. The Herscus are a big deal in ultimate. Talk a little bit about your brothers and how they've shaped your frisbee experience.

My brothers are the best! I still remember (and fantasize about) when I could beat them in a sprint! They are both accomplished ultimate players, playing on Amherst High School, winning spots and alternate spots on the USA Junior Worlds team, and playing on the Boston club team Bodhi. They now both play integral roles on their respective college teams (Harvard and Carleton.) Last year my entire family went to Madison to support Misha at college nationals. During one of his Byes, the three of us got together and made a pact: Next year the three of us would be playing at nationals together. And here we are, one year later, and the pact has held true. From family workouts on the track in the summer to training together on the indoor track during winter break here we are: Three siblings playing at nationals together! Jonah teaches me to be calm, to make the best decisions possible, and to not feel pressure. Misha teaches me to box out, and be hungry for the disc at all times. Without my brothers, I certainly wouldn't be playing ultimate today. If you're reading this make sure to watch them both play at nationals this year! They are both sincerely a treat to watch! Watch #21 on Harvard and #12 on Carleton for pristine hucks, sick bids, and hand blocks all over the place.

4. O or D?
How could you pick one? I love to dictate what my opponent can and cannot do on defense. I love a man to man match-up because it gives me the opportunity to see all of my hard work pay off. It comes down to athlete vs. athlete and what could be more exciting than that? On the flip side, offense. When you get it right, it can make you feel like you can fly. There is nothing better than identifying what your opponent is trying to defend, and outthinking them anyway. My strength in ultimate is my love of both sides of the game. I would get bored doing just one again and again.

5. Give us 5 words to describe your game.
I would say: aware, quick, precise, positive, aggressive.

6. You are also extremely talented off the field. Talk about some of the cool things you do.
HA! Not sure where you got that info. But yes, I do love a lot of other things besides Ultimate. I am a Drama/Dance and Sociology double major at Colorado College. I sing, do musical theater, and dance as much as I play ultimate. Much like my work in ultimate, my interest in performance stems from a true love of teamwork and collaboration. Thus, that is the type of performance I am particularly interested in. As I like to say: I would never be able to play ultimate if I didn't perform, and I would never be able to continue performing if I did not play ultimate. They are mutually beneficial for me. Getting a break from each of my passions allow me to never burn out on either. Additionally, I have gotten extremely interested in Aerial Dance in the past year (trapeze, fabric, bungee dance, and corde lisse etc.) I've found it incredibly useful for my ultimate training, as it is by nature a weight training activity. I was fortunate enough to have been recently awarded a Watson Fellowship for the next year, to study aerial dance and circus technique and its social impact on disenfranchised women and underpriviledged youth in Canada, Australia, and Brazil. But I know I’ll always connect with Ultimate people along the way!

And now some questions for Emily...

1. What makes Sophie stand out from other players you've coached?
Her knowledge of the game is quite extensive for a college ultimate player. Her work ethic is unmatched, both at practice and in workouts. Her dedication to the team is beyond compare. She has been captain of Colorado College for 3 years, and not just captain, but the “head” captain (I know there is not an official head captain, but there is always the one who is the most experienced and takes the lead, that has always been Sophia).

2. Describe a memory from this season that defines Sophie in your mind.

Sophia by nature is a conservative player. When I first played with her on Rare Air she never turned over the disc. She would often be at 100% for a tournament. However when she started playing with Lysistrata she was forced to be aggressive, take lots of risks because the team was so inexperienced that our best chance to score was to huck and play D. This year Sophia has a whole cast of players around her to make big plays. So my memory of this season that defines Sophia in my mind is after Midwest Throwdown, when Sophia was really proud that as a handler who plays almost every point she barely had any turnovers for the entire weekend. While that is a great accomplishment, I had to sit her down and tell her that I wanted more turnovers from her. She is the person on the team that I want making the big throws, and with big throws come higher turnover rates. At Regionals she had way more turnovers and I am super happy with how she played! (:

3. Talk about Sophie's interactions with her teammates. With her opponents.

With her teammates Sophia is both a mentor and a close friend.
She is that great leader who is able to give constructive criticism in positive ways so that the team improves and friendships grow both at the same time. Sophia’s interactions with opponents have never been anything but positive. She has never lost her temper on the field, yelled at either her own teammates or her opponent, stretched the rules, or played with anything but the utmost spirit of the game.

4. How has Sophie been key to CC's success this year?

Sophia is instrumental to the team’s offense. As a coach I have 100% confidence putting her into the game at any time. But even more importantly than her stellar play is the work she has put in over the last 4 years as a leader to this team. She has been as responsible as I have, if not more for teaching the team all the skills and strategy involved in ultimate and making them into a Nationals caliber team.

5. How has Sophie had a positive impact on women's ultimate?

All sports need role models and Sophia is an ideal role model for any female ultimate player. She is one of the best players in the game and at the same time a 100% positive, spirited person.

6. How has Sophie grown as a player from the day you met her until now?

When I first met Sophia she was a cutter, who handled because, as a freshman, she was the most experienced player on the team. Playing with her the first season of Rare she never really looked up field but would always hit a handler. Now she is one of the best handlers in college ultimate (and certainly not shabby in club ultimate either). Her hucks are money, she gets open at will on dumps, and she sees everything that is happening on the field with ease.

And what do others have to say?

I have played with Sophie since she came to Colorado (first on Rare then on Molly Brown 2010). I have a huge amount of respect for Sophie. I have always been impressed with her maturity and ability to adapt her game to fit on the team she is playing with. I love playing with her on the field because I know she will do what it takes to get open. She is a workhorse. She never gives up and strives to be a better player every time she steps on the practice field. She is a shut down defender, especially when guarding handlers. Sophie is a competitor and team player at the same time. She makes those around her better players, yet is never afraid to get the disc and be the one to make a play.
- Jana Krutsinger, Molly Brown #33

1 comment:

  1. Sophie has shown amazing dedication to building the CC team over the past 3 years. Her relentless positivity is what makes her a great player. As Jana said, she never gives up and always chooses to see the possibilities, never limitations. She is truly deserving of the Callahan as she embodies the utmost spirit, mad skills, and has singlehandedly brought the CC team to the national forefront. I remember when she attended CC's first tournament of the year - and she shared, "We are going to be good. like REALLY good." With that sparkle in her eye, i knew what she was saying was true. I could never fathom how she was able to do her schoolwork, captain an ultimate team, play on Molly Brown/Rare Air (in Denver!) AND still manage to have a life. Sophie has the ability to inspire, make you laugh, as well as grind it out. Best of luck, girl! Can't wait to see you ladies kick ass at the Championships. ~kelley kneib, #22 Molly Brown