Thursday, May 26, 2011

Carleton College Eclipse: FIND YOUR SWAGGER

In this feature, I ask my friend BG Green to talk a little bit about Carleton's phenomenal season that culminated with a National Championship at least week's USA Ultimate D-III College Championships. Last season, I had the privilege of guest coaching Eclipse for a few games at Midwest Throwdown, and since then, I have been a huge fan and have followed them closely. BG shares the story of Eclipse's season and their path to the top.


“The whole season rests on this: FIND YOUR SWAGGER.”

These were the prolific words of an esteemed CUT captain given to Eclipse early on in the 2010-2011 season. Our team goal of making it to DIII Nationals seemed to fit nicely within this adage and we adopted it as we embarked upon our regular season. Eclipse was going to be different this year; we were practicing harder, training for fitness, and throwing outside of practice. We focused on developing relationships within the lines and strengthening the connections between handlers and cutters. During winter term several GOP boys began coming regularly to practice, helping us workout the kinks in our offense and perfecting our defensive game. While we may not be the most experienced Frisbee team, we have speed and athleticism, assets that Eric Manley and Sam Tucker helped us capitalize on.

As we began tournament play, Leigh-Anne and I understood that we were leading a new team. We knew we had fostered a more intense environment and a greater dedication to ultimate but we had yet to test it. As it turned out every tournament proved our success and the success of Eclipse. We were undefeated against DIII teams and challenged strong DI school with our zone-defense and huge hucks. Placing 2nd at regionals, we had to reevaluate: we could do more than just attend DIII Nationals.

We arrived at Buffalo seeded first, the first National appearance in Eclipse history and the ultimate quest for swagger. In typical Eclipse fashion we started five of our six games down at least a break. Our first big test came in the semi-finals against Valparaiso’s tight zone. After trading points we began to work our way through their zone for a close-win and a bid to the finals. Williams had played well all weekend and we were excited to start the game. To our horror we went down 0-5. It was in this moment, thirty minutes into the finals game of DIII Nationals, that we found our swagger. Not a single person gave up, every Eclipser wanted that victory and we battled our way onto the board. The strength and grit shown on the field was a testament to the hard work of the regular season. Counting on the adaptability of the team, Sam Tucker explained a new “junk” defense that focused on poaching the lane and Eclipse was able to execute it within minutes of learning it to pull ahead. I have never seen, let alone been a part of, a team who played so relentlessly. The trust we have in each other was apparent. To win in such an incredible fashion defined our season. We had challenged each other to become more competitive and we had succeeded.

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