Thursday, August 11, 2005

Team USA interview--Angela Lin

Angela Lin is a captain of Atlanta team Ozone and has been playing with them for nearly a decade. In 2001 she won a UPA College Championship with the University of Georgia, and was runner-up for that year's Callahan Award. In her spare time, she enjoys sleeping, the outdoors and reading 'Dragonlance' novels.

Angela was selected from the pool of 61 female applicants as an alternate for the USA 2005 World Games' team. She recently had the oppourtunity to share with Ultimate Strategy & Coaching about her experience.

What are your thoughts on the team selection process? What qualities did the selection committee emphasize? What effect did the World Games’ roster limit have on who was selected? How was gender taken into account?

So, there weren't really tryouts. The selection committee made all the choices prior to us all getting together for the first time (in March). It's kind of up for debate whether this as the best way to go. I think the UPA had intended there to be a tryout period but ran out of time. In some ways having the delineation between "starters" and "alternates" was good—as an alternate, you knew what you were getting into from the start. In other ways, of course, it could've also been beneficial to be able to pick 11 people out of the 19 after seeing everybody play together. Regardless, everybody handled what potentially could've been a weird situation with respect for each of our teammates and with the team in mind.

Practices--How do you bring together some of the best players from all over the country into a cohesive team? Was team-building (as opposed to skill work) a major focus of the practice sessions? What did you learn from the Atlanta and Seattle teams you played against?

For me, it was cool to get to play with so many awesome players. I think that we all respected one another from the start. There were definitely times when people differed in opinion on stuff (how plays should be run or whatever), but we worked it out. Practices were mostly for learning and working on plays, getting used to playing with our new teammates, running a lot, getting used to coed . . . so, more skill stuff than team bonding. Although any time you practice with a group of people for 7 or 8 hours a day over several weekends, you're bonding with them. And of course, after hours, there was much more team bonding to be had—eating, drinking, pole dancing, jumping in cold lakes, chicken dinners at Poultry Days, bringing it every night at Potlatch.

Stuff we learned from Chozone and Rockeye (aka Team Russia)--Chozone brought it strong against us in some windy conditions. They were the first team we'd played against together. They weren't afraid. I was proud of Atlanta. Rockeye, though missing several of their own players playing on Team USA, was certainly strong, and we knew we couldn't [mess] around. I think one of the important things we learned starting in Atlanta and kept emphasizing throughout was that we had to be smart and play our game against every opponent. High percentage completions, dictating on defense, play hard, have fun, be a team. the simple stuff . . . which sometimes isn't so simple.

Tournaments—How did Poultry Days and Potlatch help Team USA prepare for the World Games?

Besides playing against teams in Atlanta and Seattle, Poultry Days and Potlatch were the only times we got to play all together and not against each other in scrimmages. Poultry Days wasn't all that competitive, but gave us some good bonding time. Potlatch—a lot of bonding too, plus teams fired up to beat us. And the showcase game there was super fun. There were times when only the starters played, so they could get a feel for what it'd be like without us alternates mucking things up =). Tournaments are always invaluable for any team.

How was playing mixed ultimate at this level different than playing women's? Did you all find yourselves employing different strategies and tactics than in the single-sex games?

Definitely different than Women’s. Guys are just different to throw to, cut for, have on the field, etc. We had to make adjustments because it was mixed, but we didn't spend too much time at practice deliberating over whether a woman/man should play here, there, wherever. Not saying it wasn't a concern, just that we didn't really focus on it. In our spread (4 downfield cutters, 2 on each side), we usually put a man and a woman on each side. And in an hourglass spread, we sometimes sent only women (3) downfield with a guy as the center if we were dominating the other team's women. In the stack, I think we had tried strategically placing men/women in certain positions in the stack, but I don't think we ever really stuck with that sort of structure because it didn't end up mattering.

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