Bay Area Sweep

by | December 13, 2010, 10:00am 0

The Establishment – San Francisco Fury (Women’s Champions)

Founded in 1997, San Francisco Fury was started by Jennifer “JD” Donnelly, Nicole “Sprout” Beck, and Gloria “Glo” Lust-Phillips. All players from San Francisco’s Da Fence (a nationally competitive team that dissolved in 1996) the three founded Fury with a vision of youth athleticism supported by an experienced core.  Early on, Fury would pull many players from Stanford, but missed the Club Championship in the first two years of its existence, losing out to its sister Bay Area team, Homebrood. But in 1999, Fury’s patience paid off, not only did they make it to the Club Championships but went on to beat Portland’s Schwa in the finals. Since that victory, Fury has been a powerhouse.  With five USA Club Championships in the past five years, two World Championships in the last three, and a long history of success, Fury has seen a ton of gold and many new faces.

Since the start of their five-year run only six players have been there from the beginning. Unlike the original Stanford focused Fury, the team is now a mix of local and transplant players representing 17 colleges which include MIT, Stanford, Dartmouth, U. of Colorado, UCSB, UCSD, U of Wisconsin, Cal, UCDavis, U of Oregon, Carleton, Northwestern and Skidmore. With a motto of “27-strong”, Fury’s focus on team development is evident. In 2009, Fury had 11 rookies, but they were able to overcome the turnover and still come out on top.  Of course, some of those rookies included college stars like Wisconsin Bella Donna’s Georgia Bosscher, but the transition from college to club can often be a major hurdle.

Fury gets ready to compete against Ottowa/Toronto's Capitols in the finals - Photo by Kevin Leclaire (

For Fury, winning is a different experience each year, and something they take as a reward for hard work, not a requirement. “While our team outcome goal has always been to win Nationals, each season is a different journey,” explain Fury Captains Nancy Sun and Alex Snyder. “Finishing it by winning a National Championship is fun and is a great reward for the hard work we put in all season.  Matty likes to remind us though that it is also important to enjoy the entire season as an experience and not let what happens at the very end, in a game that may come down to inches or seconds, determine how we feel about the past 6 months.”

Fury's Manisha Daryani fights for the disc - Photo by Kevin Leclaire (

While talented personnel are essential to success, Sun and Snyder are quick to point out their secret weapon: coach Matt Tsang. “Coaches often go unnoticed on a team because they aren’t the ones on the field making a camera-worthy play, but one key element that differentiates Fury from other teams is that we have Matty Tsang as our coach,” explain Sun and Snyder.  “He is a wonderful communicator, teacher, and strategist.  His ability to build and manage teams, effectively teach skills and strategy, and communicate goals and roles is an integral part of our team and our success.” Since the beginning of Fury’s five year run, Matt Tsang has been a guiding force. Playing Ultimate at University California Santa Cruz and Berkeley, Tsang got involved with Fury partly because of his wife, Arlie, who was on Fury at the time. What makes Tsang an effective leader? One crucial element is communication.

“Matty does a great job of connecting with everyone as an individual on the team and goes out of his way to do this every year,” says Snyder, “He checks in with everyone multiple times through the season and fosters an open line of communication as much as possible.  I think that every player feels very comfortable talking to him about almost anything.”

Fury celebrates a score in the final - Photo by Kevin Leclaire (

The 2010 season, which included the much coveted WFDF World Championship, was near-perfect with loses to only one team, perennial challenger Seattle Riot. Though talented enough to come out on top over Fury, including a win at this year’s Regionals, for the past five years, Riot has been unable to close the door on Fury when it counts. Though Riot and Fury did not meet at the Club Championships this year, they met in the finals in 2006-2008. “Our games with Riot have always been a lot about punches and counter-punches,” explain Sun and Snyder. “Every time we play against each other, each team has come up with something new to throw at the other.  It’s always a challenge to play Riot, we know it will be a close game and we mentally prepare for that.  The battle brings out the best in us.”

Fury's Kari Deleeuw catches a pass - Photo by Kevin Leclaire (

Strategically, Fury has a developed system which looks to move the disc quickly on offense, and on defense tries to control the pace of the game, throwing an array of defensive formations that only an experienced team could master. Fury bases a lot of what they do on other teams as well, examining their opponents and working to take away the competition’s first option, while borrowing defensive aspects that they find effective.

Having had time to incubate over the past 13 years, Fury has a rich history of achievement and has established itself as not only the team to beat in women’s Ultimate but an industry that can win time and time again, especially when it counts. Fury is the machine, the production. They have a proven system to educate new players and the ability to play big. This hasn’t come overnight, but the consistency of its organization, the focus on drawing talent and its strong team ethic has allowed it to succeed.

Next Page: Building to Success – Bay Area Revolver (Open Champions)

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