The initial sparks of Heist lit up almost a year ago. Wisconsin Eau-Claire and University of Iowa ultimate phenom Robyn Fennig had enjoyed playing on a Midwestern women’s team in the past, actually taking Great Lakes Region opponent Nemesis to a close game in the final of Regionals 2011.
Elsewhere, Georgia Bosscher had made the difficult decision to not travel to play with 6 year National Champion San Francisco Fury, and knew that she would be in Madison for the next few years. One fateful December day, Bosscher was hanging out with her friend Corinne Wade, and with the shared goal of building a competitive option for women in the Midwest, the two committed to starting a women’s team for the 2012 year. They immediately called Fennig who emphatically agreed to join the leadership core.
Who is Heist?
They got to work recruiting. Bosscher immediately went to speak to traveling teams from Madison, Wade tried to talk to people “on the fringe” who had been playing for a while but hadn’t been playing on a competitive women’s club team, and Fennig recruited a lot of Iowa and Madison players from the college scene. They actually were able to recruit women bringing experience from 11 different colleges, though maintain a Wisconsin core. Bosscher speaks with pride about the composition of the team: “We were able to give a lot of women who had never been able to play a competitive women’s team the chance to play women’s”
For example, Kimmy Chapman (Minnesota-Duluth) and Anna Williams (Wesleyan) bring years of regional mixed experience, but have not had the opportunity to play women’s club before. Emily Langland, an All-Region player from Nebraska and drives 8 hours to attend practice. Some players from Iowa and Iowa State also drive a couple hours each weekend. To host their out of town players, Madison-local Heist crew host slumber parties which help the team bond even more. Fennig, who had recruited many of the college players and helped coach Iowa’s B team this past year expressed excitement at a unique opportunity to pick an all-star Midwest team to lead. “It’s awesome to see so many people that played against each other in college coming together to make teammates that love playing with each other from opponents that face off the rest of the year.”
The Season So Far
Heist is going into the series ranked fourth by USA Ultimate, and undefeated. But take these results with a grain of salt – they didn’t have a chance to play in any of the season’s top tournaments. This is in part because with so many team members hailing from the college scene, they had to wait for the college season to end before starting tryouts. Consequently, they hadn’t felt ready for a tournament like ECC so declined an offer for a bid. They had also planned to attend Fusion but were unable to confirm attendance because of communications issues regarding the scheduling of sectionals.
Unlike other teams who usually take July off to rest up for later summer tournaments, Heist decided to take June off and hit the ground running at Colorado Cup where they faced teams like RevoLOUtion, Schwa, Molly Brown and Jack Wagon, finding themselves in the finals and boosting their rankings from the start. They also played at Cooler Classic where they split teams to get their players more touches on the disc. At this point they were still developing their offensive and defensive schemes, so wanted to work out the kinks against some solid local opponents. And though they had split up their roster, Heist X and Heist Y still found themselves battling it out in the finals.
Looking Forward to Regionals and Beyond
The North Central Region only has one bid to Regionals. So far Heist has logged wins over RevoLOUtion, Sting and Pop. Pop is seeded closest to Heist just missing a second bid for the NC at 18, but the last time these two teams played (Heavyweights), Heist dominated 11-3. It’ll be a surprise to not see Heist at Nationals this year, but that doesn’t mean they’re letting up.
All season long they’ve strategized to maximize on-field compatibility down to their workouts. Each week the captains send out workouts to separated pods to increase the amount of times the teammates spend time together. These “pods,” however, differ from on-field groups; rather than separating to O- and D-lines, the captains outlined groups of players that cycle through to essentially retain mostly the same people playing with each other. “We believe that team chemistry is more important than raw talent. In the women’s game it makes more sense to rely on people doing things together with people they know how to work with than to do just what they are good at,” shared Wade.
Yet their goals for the team aren’t just about national placement. All the captains agree that their main objective was to create a team that would be around for seasons to come, on which women in the Midwest can have pride in playing. That being said, their goal is to finish at least in quarters.
Bosscher aptly hit on one clear hurdle: “Our hardest obstacle will be lack of experience in high pressure games, but we have the talent to go up against one of those big teams and make it to semis.” The question remains if a team goes up on a few point run, will they be able to handle it mentally?
“We’re excited to go to the Club Championships with no history, no mental stumbling block or chip on our shoulder.”
For now, all the captains echo that they feel strongly about their personal investment in the team, and would feel pride if people would want to play for the team again. Until Sarasota they’re enjoying the on and off-field chemistry, the sleepovers with teammates on practice weekends and making gourmet pudgy pies. Note: I have no idea what these are, but from how the ladies explained it, I can’t wait to try one! Looks like a trip to Madison is in order…
To keep an eye on Heist throughout the series and to learn more about the team, check out their website here: http://heistultimate.wordpress.com