Monday, May 23, 2011

North Carolina-Wilmington Seaweed: Athletic Team from the AC

Kelly Tidwell on the mark.
As I sit and go over the responses that the Seaweed have given to me, they are concise, to the point, without a lot of extra wordiness. I find it quite similar to their to their play. They don’t use fancy play calls or have elaborate, crazy set-ups. They don’t win with trickery and propaganda. They let their play do the talking. Co-captains Jessica Patrick and Claire Chastain explain exactly what the Seaweed focused on going into the 2011 season.

This team has taken the ultimate scene by storm with their roster that is chalk-full of athletic talent. The Seaweed are able to fill personnel losses in their roster every year by taking advantage of their successful recruiting tactics. “Our main method of recruitment is word of mouth and the UNCW involvement fair at the beginning of each year. We set up a table and basically harass athletic looking girls until they come over and sign up,” they explain.

Taking these athletic recruits, the team wastes no time, and throws them into the ring right away. “Our method for developing rookie talent is to basically toss them right into the middle of everything,” say Chastain and Patrick. “Danny, our coach, always says that ‘in order to learn, you gotta play.’ We put them into scrimmages their first couple practices, and as they begin to understand the game more, there's a lot more focus on throwing and other fundamental skills.”

The focus then becomes working hard until they can’t work any harder; and then they work some more. “Returners realize the hard work needed to have a successful season, and we show that from day 1 at practice,” they emphasize. “We also realize that having fun outside of practice is really important it's inevitable that from the beginning of the season we get into the habit of working really hard at practice, and then hanging out a lot outside of practice. It starts out as crashing on someone's couch or getting lunch together, and turns into living with each other by your 2nd or 3rd year. The commitment we have to the sport and to each other seems to be a main driving factor in attracting new players.”

The captains of Seaweed find 2011 to be similar to last year, however the roster is much different. “This season is similar to last in terms of our win/loss record and the types of tournaments we attended, but it is different in terms of our rotation and type of players. Last year we had a rotation full of experienced players. This year we have a core group of vets and have worked to incorporate more players into the rotation who don't have as much experience. Our 1st and 2nd year players have worked so hard this year. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today. A lot of them have stepped up in a huge way,” they highlight.

Nationals Outlook:
UNC-Wilmington comes into Nationals after winning a tough Atlantic Coast Region over North Carolina (AC 2) and Virginia (AC 3).

The captains note that the team sustained no major injuries at Regionals, but had “few girls who were not at 100% and were still coping with some injuries sustained at Sectionals.” Of those “Logan Shapiro, Mikayla Chiarello, Michelle Guadagno, and Ali Carson coincidently and unluckily sustained ankle and tendon injuries. They worked hard to get back to playing shape and were major contributors to Seaweed's success at Regionals.”

On the other hand, “Jessica "Patti" Patrick is currently working hard to recover from a torn hamstring that she re-injured at Sectionals, she was unable to play at Regionals.” Even with the injuries, Seaweed was able to go undefeated at Regionals with decisive point margins, beating Virginia in semi-finals 15-6 and North Carolina 15-3.

The team has taken this momentum in their post-season preparation for the College Championships by increasing the number of practices the team has, and playing a great deal of ultimate. The focus is on getting and staying healthy.

Wilmington goes into the College Championships seeded 3rd overall, earning the top-seed in Pool C. In order to advance straight into quarter-finals, the team will have to knock off TEAMS IN POOL C! Look for speedster Kelly Tidwell to team up with Claire Chastain for big throws, and Sara Casey and Jessica Patrick to pull down goals.

Sidenote: The Seaweed also wanted to give a shout out to their coaches Danny Wrenn and Nikki Zeldin. “They are two of the most dedicated and knowledgeable coaches in the sport of ultimate. They are a major part of our success as a team. They are also HILARIOUS!”

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