2011 Preview – California-Berkeley UGMO

by | November 17, 2010, 8:00am 0

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School Name: University of California, Berkeley
Team Name: UGMO
Captains: Gary Dixon, Andrew Hagen, James Pollard
Coaches: Alexander “Dutchy” Ghesquiere, Choongil Fleischman
Year founded: 2000
Jersey Colors: Blue and Gold
Website: http://www.ugmo.org/
2010 Record: 40-13
Score Reporter


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with ultimate at UC Berkeley?
Gary Dixon:
I came to Cal with only a vague idea of the game of Ultimate. My brother had played it in college, but I had never seen it in action. And when I came to my first practice with my short neon green soccer shorts, my gray cotton T-shirt, and my glow in the dark frisbee, I was dumbfounded by what some of those guys could do with the disc. I got on my first point, dropped a hammer that hit me right in the chest, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
Gary: We were very satisfied with our success last year. After losing badly to Oregon in the NW Regional finals, we earned a bid to Nationals by beating UBC in the last game to go. Although our goal coming into Nationals was to make it to semis, crushing Santa Barbara after losing to them at the Standford Invite, beating Minnesota after losing to them at Centex, beating Oregon in the most exciting game I’ve ever been a part of, and giving Pitt a real good game in quarters, definitely felt like a success.

Captain Andrew Hagen gets the block over a UCSD Air Squid

Who is your favorite team to play against?
Gary: I hate to be unoriginal, but nothing beats a good game against Stanford. No matter what the situation (Fall, Spring, Regionals, whatever) both teams always bring the fire. Although there have been plenty of good games, my personal favorite is finals of the Santa Barbara Invite 2008 when we crushed them 15-8 or something like that. Suck it Stanford.

Tell us about your coaches. What do they bring to your team?
Gary: We are really lucky to have Dutchy and Choon as our coaches. Choon is a past captain and Club Nationals Champion from 2008, and Dutchy is a long time player and coach for a ridiculous number of dominant teams. Oh, and he was also a captain on Revolver 2010. What they bring to the table is indispensable, and they have everything to do with why Cal is becoming more and more powerful every year.

Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?
Gary: Although we’re still waiting on our freshmen to blossom, come spring I could definitely see one of them making a run at Freshman of the Year. But I don’t want any one of their heads to get too big, so no guess. As for the Callahan and All-Region, I’d keep my eye on Sam Kanner and Andrew Hagen, they’re gonna cook up a pretty good storm.

What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
Gary: Here’s how I see it happening: Andrew Hagen makes yet another huge layout D in Cal’s endzone. Offense sets and James Pollard is going deep. He’s pretty deep though, can the thrower get it that far? He does, Sam Kanner puts a huge backhand huck that’s floating down into the endzone. Can Pollard come down with it? Yes! Skies the shorts off of his 7ft tall defender. Something like that.

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 he is to your team?
Gary: Hey, I think that would be me! I try my best to keep the offense running smoothly. Anytime the disc stops, my team can count on me to get it moving again. Just try to play dump D on me.

How does your team bring new players up to speed on Ultimate?
Gary: We’ve done a really good job at developing our younger players these last couple of years. Although they often don’t get a lot of playing time at tournaments, we make sure they fill important roles in practice and that they know what it takes to become a dominant player. We try to discourage players from settling into any one limiting role. Knowing how to play anywhere on the field, will make you a better player at any position. Though I don’t want to give all the credit to the captains and coaches because a lot of it’s been due to our rookies’ seemingly unrelenting determination.

Without giving too much away, what does your team like to do on offense and on defense?
Gary: For the last couple of years, our team has ran vertical stack almost exclusively. We have a solid system that everyone on the team knows pretty well, so it’s usually pretty successful. However, this year we have a lot of guys that are well versed in horizontal, so we’ll definitely be pulling that out more often. Although our team specializes in tight man D, our zone defense was really successful last year, and I have a feeling that we’ll be pulling out more often this year.

Has your team set any goals for this season?
Gary: No doubt we’ll be working toward a National title.

What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
Gary: We practice three times a week.

What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Gary: Pres Day, Santa Barbara, Standford, Centex, Series. We always really enjoy Texas because it’s right during our Spring break. We can really focus on the tournament and have some fun.

What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
Gary: Nothing beats an inspirational speech from Dutchy followed by a big cheer and some shots of espresso or Red Bull.

What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?
Gary: You’ll see.

What do you think about the USA Ultimate college restructuring?
Gary: Although there will be a lot of good teams in our Region, we are not foreseeing a big difference in the caliber of teams we would have to beat to make it to Nationals.

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