School Name: West Point
Team Name: Army
Captain: Cadet Ivan Cho
Coaches: Dr. Stephen Finn, MAJ William Wright, CPT Doug Willig
Jersey Colors: Black, gold, white
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at West Point?
Cadet Ivan Cho: I am senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A couple other cadets and I thought it would be great if our school could have an Ultimate Frisbee team to play against other colleges, seeing as our sport is built upon some of the core values that are indicative of the everyday culture here at West Point. I played recreational Ultimate back in high school but never competitively as I know it now. So starting a team with people who were interested was actually very easy. There were people who’ve never played Ultimate before; people who’ve played on previous college teams, and people who’ve played just for fun. Having a diverse team was a great effect from starting a college team.
How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
Ivan: Because we were a basically new team, we were very motivated but lacked the technical skills needed to compete at a higher level. We played at the Yale Cup, where some of the top college teams attended. We played hard is really all I can say. However, as the semester started rolling along, we attended the Metro NY Sectionals and actually did decently. We got a couple wins and realized that we could be better; we just needed to put our minds to practicing the fundamentals and have the mindset that we had the potential to play better.
Tell us about your coaches.
Ivan: Our coaches are actually what helped build the team. Coach Stephen Finn was our initial coach who brought not only his grand expertise but his style of coaching really showed his personality and reflected on us as a team. The other two coaches also have lots to bring to the table. Seeing as our school has a bit more restrictions than other schools in regards to leaving campus, Coaches Wright and Willig help administratively and attend the practices that Coach Finn cannot. They make sure we practice the right drills and keep us on track when we get distracted. Without the three coaches, our team may not be the team it is today.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
Ivan: The New Paltz team is always a fun team to play against. The scores are always very close and both teams’ players just have a good time while playing. What more can you ask for? Our most recent game with them ended with a score of 13-10 (New Paltz). The defense from both teams didn’t let up on match point and it was an epic game overall.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower, receiver or on D?
Ivan: We’ve got some great handlers and receivers. Our defense is also pretty strong. Having said that, our stronger handlers are Nathan Ramia, Adam Softy, Lee Van Horn, Jeremy Smith, Michael Richardson, and John Depinto. Without these guys, our plays wouldn’t be able to be truly functional. Receiving wise, we have Elliot Thomas, RJ Barnett, Matt Bolian, Cyril Helbling, Lee Oeschger, Cory Burdick, and Teddy Taggart. These guys can run, cut, play wing, or wherever they are needed. Their versatility is a great asset for the handlers. As far as defense, Lee Oeschger, Lee Van Horn, and Cyril Helbling can be seen making some great defensive plays.
It’s easy to see when someone throws a huge huck or gets a layout D. Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable they are to your team?
Ivan: As cliché as it sounds, everyone on the team is valuable. They may not make the huge plays but they are there for the plays that lead to the bigger plays. James Correnti, Eric Murphy, Jeff St. Gelais, Kyle Jensen, and Aaron Skinner all do their part to ensure the disc is in our handlers possession and we get the points on the board.
How does your team bring new players up to speed on Ultimate?
Ivan: From the get-go, as we warm-up and do throwing drills, we make sure everyone understands each drill and throw before committing them to the same standards. But because the people who want to play Ultimate are usually the people who love to compete and play and have fun, the learning curve is extremely high. They will practice on and off the field to make sure that they are on par for their second practice.
Without giving too much away, what does your team like to run on offense and on defense?
Ivan: We have been working arduously on trying to perfect the ho stack and are now getting into the groove with a vert stack. On defense we have been playing man religiously and have lately been practicing variations of the zone defense, the basic 3-3-1.
Has your team set any goals for this season?
Ivan: Our goal was to have practice tournaments in the fall and play the Club season to get ready for the College season in the spring. We want to do well at Sectionals even though this is only our second one in the team’s resume. We know we have the athleticism and the motivation to do it. We just need to make sure our technical skills are there to match them.
What is ARMY doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
Ivan: We used to have practices only on Friday and Sunday afternoons because of our commitments. However, we have recently been getting authorization to play during the weekdays during mandatory lunch. So we try to have four practices a week , working on various drills and playing scrimmage games with one another. On an individual basis, each player works out and ensures that what they bring to the field is their best, both practice and real games.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Ivan: The one tournament we keep our eyes on is Sectionals. For now, winning at other tournaments is important but we know that we need more practice and we can use those tournaments as stepping stones for our Ultimate goal.
What does ARMY do to get pumped up for a big game?
Ivan: We have a team discussion, prep talk, and chant loud and clear that we are here to have fun but leave a name for ourselves at the same time.
What is the club team to play for in your area?
Ivan: PONY is a great team. We had the opportunity to play them at the recent Club Sectionals and they had great plays in all aspects of the game. It was a fun game to watch and play in. We learned a lot from them.
Go Army Ultimate!
Get Your Mind Right!