Friday, May 20, 2011

Colorado College Lysistrata's Tools: The Home-Field Advantage

Strata players GO TO the disc.
Going into Nationals, there is one team with the clear home-field advantage in the women's division. Though Colorado College is not from Boulder, Colorado Springs is less than two hours away. After chatting with co-captains Sophi Herscu, Hannah Sohl, and Molly Sinnott about Lysistrata’s Tools (or Strata for short), you can get a feel for the team and the extra energy their team has been infused with for the College Championships.

Strata has come a long way since Sophie Herscu arrived at the Colorado College campus in January ’08. “There were approximately 10 regulars on Hydra (as it was called then.) Practices had anywhere from 3-8 people at them,” Herscu describes. “However, Colorado College as a school attracts so many motivated and athletic people. All we had to do was get people excited about Ultimate. First things first: recruiting recruiting recruiting!”

The team focused on development and growing their small program into something larger that students at CC would want to be part of. “By the end of my sophomore year it was clear to me, and the other leadership on the team, that we we're going to have immense potential. From there it has just been about maintaining positive energy, getting each player the help that they need to improve their individual game, and getting to enough tournaments for everyone to fall in love with ultimate,” says Herscu. Interest in ultimate exploded, and the team now has enough players to have split into A and B squads during the College Regular Season for the past few springs. Sophie highlights that, “While we still practice half the time together and keep a united feel, the separate practice times give an opportunity to every type of player to develop at their own speed.”

With the recent growth, Strata was able to approach the 2011 season with a different outlook. Molly Sinnott explains, “We made a decision as a team at the end of last season to really step up the level of competitiveness and commitment to the team, and have restructured our practices and tournaments accordingly. We have added practices and team workouts-- many people have commented on the increased intensity of the team because it seems like we are always out there, rain or shine, throwing the disc or running stairs.”

Increasing the commitment level has had numerous positive spillover effects, especially on the level that the team has been able to compete at during the 2011 season. “We have such an incredibly talented group of players this year that it was evident from the very beginning that we had the potential to go really far,” says Sinnott of her team. “People seeing for themselves during practices and games how good we had truly gotten really inspired people to step up on the individual level.”

Kate's lookin' good on the field!
When it comes to picking out specific highlights of the 2011 season, Hannah Sohl explains, “There have been so many highlights this year it is hard to know which ones to focus on. I think the overall highlight of the year has been the personal development of each player on the team. Some of the most exciting moments have been seeing our rookies get their first layout score or handblock etc.”

However, one thing that is giving the team some extra momentum is the back-to-back Conference and Regional Championships that Strata secured. "Going into Conferences, I think our team was a little apprehensive because our Conference only had two bids for three comparable teams. For some of us seniors, we realized that this could be the last weekend of ultimate that we ever played together. That knowledge really lit a fire under our team, and we showed up to play like I had never seen us show up before, and ended up beating CU in the finals for the number 1 bid to Regionals,” says Sohl. “The energy that our sideline exuded in cheers and support was really phenomenal!”

This extra sideline energy culminates at the end of the month at the College Championships, which return to Boulder, after several years in the Midwest. “When we found out that the Championships were in Colorado again we were ecstatic. A lot of players on the team have family in Colorado, and for many of us, our families have never even seen a game of ultimate being played, so it is really exciting to be able to have them see such high levels of ultimate,” highlights Sohl. “Also competing on a national level is really new to our team, so having our first Championship tournament be so close to home is really great for us.”

Claire Jencks gets up

Herscu agrees. “It is incredibly exciting to get to play close to school and in front of a ‘home crowd.’ First and foremost, the location of Nationals is going to give the greater CC community an opportunity to see what we've accomplished as a team. As all of our competitive tournaments have been out of state, it is hard for the Colorado College community to comprehend what we've done,” she emphasizes. “We should be proud of our accomplishments, and other people should see our success too!”

Nationals Outlook:

Colorado College will begin the tournament in Pool C, matched up against North Carolina-Wilmington, Cal, UBC, and Virginia. Strata has yet to be matched up against any of these teams, but share some common opponents with each.

Coming off of a strong regional performance brings some momentum to the team. Sohl asserts, “I think that everything that we had been working for this year fell into place [at Regionals] and all of our players stepped it up for a full team effort. Our positive energy, team love, and belief in the practice and training we’ve completed to date, made us unstoppable during the weekend.”

Strata also kept their team relatively injury free throughout the season, aside from several incidents with dislocated shoulders, concussions, and ankle sprains earlier in the season. Herscu notes, “We are looking forward to taking care of our bodies in the coming weeks, and continuing this trend for Nationals.”

When it comes to prepping for the Big Show, Sinnott says, “Nationals is not like any other tournament, so we've made adjustments that reflect how big of a deal nationals truly is.”

Herscu echoes the sentiment, “We've done the mental preparation to rise above pressure, nerves, and side-line chatter. There is nothing that can stand in our way of experiencing Nationals to the fullest!” She adds, that to prepare, “[Strata] will be going to frisbee camp for the next couple weeks.”

Sinnott describes what this means. “Its great the school is about to end and can spend more time practicing and bonding as a team, and are being especially careful with our bodies. That being said, we are still preparing in the Strata way are maintaining a balanced lifestyle and still having a ton of fun.”

Colorado College eagerly awaits the competition. “We can’t wait to see how we measure up at nationals where all of the top teams will be present!” says Sohl.

The team will not be the only ones who are watching. Sinnot illustrates, “Frisbee has really infected the CC campus. Because it is the first time that either the mens or womens team has made nationals, and we both qualified, the student body and administration has really rallied behind our programs. We've had so many people express interest in joining next year and are expecting an incredible fan base at nationals of students making the short trip up to Boulder!”
Lysistrata's Tools of Colorado College, Spring 2011. Heading to the Big Show

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