The next post is about Stanford Superfly. This ultimate dynasty, was one that captivated me early on in my ultimate playing days. I remember watching online footage of this team playing when I was trying to pick up the game. This team has been able to stay dominant for so long, and keep developing a championship team year after year. Thanks to Elaine and Jen (Superfly Captains 2011) for taking the time to answer these questions to give everyone some insight to the 2011 Superfly team and its history.
How has the strong tradition of ultimate for Superfly help to develop a strong team in the fall?
Elaine: It definitely helps for recruiting in the fall. Not only do we pick up strong grad students for their fifth year and freshmen who have been playing longer than most of our vets in strong high school programs around the country, but it also helps us bring new athletes into the sport. Most people don't know that ultimate is played on the national stage, so telling freshmen that it is, that we've been there, and that they can too - it gets them excited about the sport.
Do you guys use any special recruiting tips to build your team?
Jen: Nothing that out of the ordinary, I imagine; it helps that we have a strong history to boast on flyers and in recruiting emails. Since most undergrads live on campus but switch dorms every year, we often encourage girls (not just freshmen) who are already coming out to drag their newfound friends along. Also, Superfly has a tradition of going to the Kaimana Klassik in February. Saying we have a winter tournament in Hawaii has got to be a pretty huge draw, right?
How has the years with superstars like Gwen, Enessa, and Casey, contributed to the growth of your team? How does it feel to be on a team that is truly a "faceless army"?
Elaine: Superfly has had its fair share of standout ultimate players over the years and we definitely take advantage of their experience when we can. Both Gwen and Casey have helped coach in recent years and stories from their time with Superfly never fail to fire up the team. I think over the last few years we've transitioned from a team that has consistently boasted the big name players to a deeper team that really relies on everyone. This has been our biggest strength this season. All season our coach has been able to call "new seven!" without losing any momentum. It's given our rookies (who are already
awesome) invaluable experience in big games and it gives our more experienced players some time to hydrate and help out on the sideline. The confidence that everyone has in each other this season is just
incredible and it's made playing for this team a really special experience.
You guys also have access to the best club teams in the world...how does this contribute to success for your team?
Jen: It's no surprise that having a lot of high-level club teams around here helps individual players grow from year to year; those who choose to stick around and play club invariably gain a lot of useful experience that they share with Superfly. More than that, though, I think it endows our team with a certain sense of pride. With a lot of our alumni on local club teams, it feels like we have a huge support base. It is also a privilege to represent Bay Area ultimate, and that's something we work hard for - whether consciously or not. Finally, of course, it doesn't hurt that our youngest players' introduction to the sport comes with the help of some of the biggest role models in women's ultimate. We're spoiled. :)
You guys have great coaching, how has this impacted your team this season?
Elaine: We would be lost without Robin. Beyond her knowledge of the game, she injects this team with both a competitive spirit and a deep respect for fair play. I'm not sure how she does it, but she just makes you want to be a better ultimate player - to run harder, play better D, improve your mental game , whatever you need to do to help the team. This year we've also benefited from having Jamie Nuwer as a coach. She's kicked our asses at sprint practice all Spring and she's been invaluable in preventing or helping us take care of all those little injuries that crop up over the course of a season.
How does having a B-team affect the development of your program?
Jen: One of the greatest advantages of having a B team is that it allows girls to discover ultimate whenever they want. Rather than having to wait for the next fall to start playing, a newcomer can start practicing with the B team in the winter or spring. Girls from the B team do often try out for Superfly and make the team - Elaine and I both did this, actually. Others choose to be B-teamers for life, and they are just as essential to our program as Superfly's captains: it's so hard to strike a balance between being competitive and being relaxed (especially when you're alongside another team that tries to be competitive all the time), and all the B team leaders I know have handled it admirably. We are also a tight-knit program, and this keeps people playing year after year.
How did Regionals go? Anything special or noteworthy?
Jen: Regionals felt remarkably like smooth sailing to us. I don't mean that the teams we faced weren't strong, because that's obviously not true; I mean that we made a plan and stuck to it with confidence. We came off of a strong Saturday to face a very fired-up USC on Sunday morning in quarters. They played a very smart game and used their great throwers to their advantage, but we made some adjustments and moved on to semis. Our longstanding goal had been to qualify for Nationals through the "front door," and we are all proud of what we accomplished.
How are practices going with it being the semester wrapping/wrapped up?
Jen: While many of our competitors are done with school, we still have three weeks, and finals, left! This both gives us an advantage and puts us at a disadvantage: we are all in the same place and nothing about our practice schedule has changed, but - no surprise - our schoolwork distracts us and deprives us of sleep. There are great things to be said for both the semester and the quarter systems with respect to the timing of college nationals, but I tend to think the ups and downs mostly even out.