Tufts EWO has had a strong program since its inception, far longer than I've been playing. They have been a nationals contender nearly every season. This season is no exception. The team features young, talented players, who are athletic and can play a fast paced game. Anna Chute and Laura "Juice" Glassman detail the season and the journey the team has taken to get there.
Some people are saying your team has “come out of nowhere” this season. How does that feel to surprise teams at tourneys like Centex?
Anna: I would like to think we have not come completely out of nowhere, as Tufts has a strong history and program. The Ewo made nationals in 2006 and 2007, finishing tied for 11th both years. After graduating 8 seniors in both 2008 and 2009, then Ewo underwent a couple rebuilding years before beginning to dominate once again. Last year had a disappointing finish to our season when we lost on universe point at regionals to Middlebury in the finals. We felt we deserved to go to Nationals last year, and set the standard very high for the season this year. We are used to New England getting overlooked by the rest of the country, so it felt great to beat teams at Centex that had no idea what hit them. The lesson here is to go into every game without expectations and play honestly. Our goal for Nationals is obviously to finish as high as we can, but also to gain respect for the New England region and show that we deserve to be in Boulder.
How has your team gone about recruiting talented players and developing their skills?
Anna: In the past years, Tufts has had a lot of frisbee players from Amherst. We were lucky to get talented player Claudia Tajima (Amherst, Junior Worlds, Quiet Coyote), partially as a result of having a history of other Amherst players such as Shira Stothoff, Maya Jackson, Caroline Chow, and Andrew Hollingworth. When we hear high school frisbee players are interested in Tufts, we try our best to get them out to a practice, hang out with the team, and make sure they feel welcome. Honestly, most of our incoming freshmen with frisbee experience choose Tufts because it's a great school with a lot to offer, and frisbee is a secondary consideration. This laid-back strategy seems to be working, though, as we've hooked multiple Paideia alums, junior worlds tryouts, and some outstanding players who come from different high school sports. We use the fall to develop basic skills and to get people excited about frisbee, and then hone those skills and focus more on individual skills and team strategies as it gets further into the winter and spring.
How does EWO feel going into the series, even though you haven't had as many regular season games as many of the other teams there. Do you use that to your advantage?
Anna: We would love to have gotten more games in during the regular season, but weather constraints and changes in Club Sports policy prevented us from doing all the travel we would have liked. Because we knew we would be starting later and getting fewer games in, we focused on the quality of tournaments over quantity. In the past we have gone to Vegas, Southerns, Terminus, and Yale Cup. This year we attended CCC in the Fall, considered Stanford Invite, attended Centex, and Keystone Classic. These tournaments offered great organization and competition, and allowed us to see strong teams outside our region. It definitely is tough playing indoors through the winter and facing unpredictable New England weather throughout the Spring, but you have to work with what you've got. We love playing together and know we can be very effective on the field; we hope to continue that trend at Boulder and not dwell on any differences between ours and other teams' seasons.
How you're using your awesome performance at Centex to give you momentum?
Anna: Centex was awesome, and we learned that we can beat top tier teams with focus during every point and by playing our game. However, Centex was just the beginning on the season. We have had a lot of games since then and have gotten to know ourselves better as a team. Although we hope to have just as strong a showing at Nationals as we did at Centex, we recognize that early season results don't really mean anything in terms of play at this point. Centex put Tufts on the radar, and now we want to prove we belong there. And expectations, anxiety, nerves, cockiness are not the way to do so.
How did Regionals go? Anything special or noteworthy?
Anna: Here's the recap I wrote from regionals: http://www.usaultimate.org/news/recap-2011-college-womens-regionals-new-england/
What can we expect at nationals? Making any adjustments?
Juice: We aren't expecting to make too many adjustments at nationals from our regular season playing. You can expect us to make big plays, work hard on every single point and have a lot of fun playing together against the best competition in the country.
How are practices going with it being the semester wrapping/wrapped up?
Juice: We were low on numbers at the end of the year due to finals, injuries and other conflicts (graduation! eeek). Despite these setbacks, we still had high intensity practices and track workouts and used our time between regionals and nationals to improve our game.
Any injuries sustained at Regionals? Any personnel losses or gains?
Anna: We had some injuries at Keystone, Sectionals, and Regionals. All of those players should be back and ready for action, come time for Nationals, which means that you can expect strong lines.
Taking any precautions or special preparations for nationals?
Juice: Eating our Wheaties and drinking plenty of water! We will be getting to Boulder on Wednesday to acclimate and motivate ourselves before Friday!