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School Name: Houghton College
Team Name: Roaring Sheep
Captains: Stefan Ciszewski, Jonathan Slye, Sheri Tuttle
Year Founded: 2003
Jersey Colors: Burgundy, white, black.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with ultimate at Houghton?
Sheri Tuttle: Ultimate was the awesome new game that everyone played at all the high school graduation parties. When I came to Houghton, I’d heard rumors of a team, and I started going to practice with a few new friends. I’ve played on and off from semester to semester, but I could never stay away for long.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
Sheri: Just this past month we played against a team from Adelphi which was a team that most if not all of us hadn’t heard of. We are very evenly matched, and met them on the field a couple times in as many days. Not only were we well matched, but they were a fun, awesome group of people.
Tell us about your captains.
Stefan Ciszewski: I’m not really sure about the “how captains impact the team”. We aren’t really strict or rule bearing on them. We mostly just keep things in line and fix problems as we notice them. Such as poor throwing form or bad cuts. We teach strategy as we go. A lot of leading by example and displaying what good sportsmanship is. We also prevent things from getting heated when there’s an argument, because all 3 of us are easy going and have good senses humor. At least I think we have good senses of humor. Maybe others don’t. Maybe they just think I’m retarded.
Sheri: I don’t want to speak on my own behalf, but my co-captains are great guys. They both bring a contagious love of the game, a chill and level-headed personality, and the kind of character that leads by example. Stefan brings a carefree and fun attitude to the game and helps often with managing and finances. Slye is not visible as often on the field because of massive amounts of schoolwork, but when he does appear he brings a sense of humor and a strong presence that is respected by the team.
Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?
Stefan: For freshman of the year, all of them. Our freshmen have all done a lot better than we would expect from people who haven’t played competitively before. They all have good work ethics, spirit on the field, and they just give everything they’ve got the entire time. As a senior captain it’s good to know we have good players to replace us when we graduate.
Sheri: I have a hard time separating the difference in criteria between Callahan and All-Region but if I were to pick two people on the team (one for each award) that exhibited athletic skill, leadership, and a great attitude/integrity, I would pick Ryan Yates and Ben Schlabach. Yates isn’t a student, but the husband of a math professor here who taught a few of the student teammates. He rarely says a word, but when he does you stop and listen. Not only does Yates know the game and is unbiased when making calls, but he also has a quiet sense of humor and a caring spirit. He’s also a dependable player, someone that you could count on to be the only one in the right spot when you need him. Schlalala, as we call him, is a senior who transferred in last year – but we wish he had been playing next to us all four years. He is excellent in both offense and defense, always handling and making the right cuts where needed and never letting the other team’s offense get away from him when on defense. He seems tireless, and never stops sprinting after the disc until it hits the ground or we call him out of the game. He also leads quietly by example and has a great sense of humor. Both players are spirited, good-natured, and happy to help out, which are invaluable qualities to me as a captain.
What players are most likely to make huge plays as a thrower, receiver, and on D?
Sheri: There are so many. Our team loves to make huge plays. But if I had to pick one for each, I’d say teammate Allen Bartter is most likely to throw a huge play, Stefan would take great effort (and succeed) at catching it, and teammate Josh Timian has made some monster D’s this year.
Who’s a Roaring Sheep you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable they are to the team?
Sheri: That’s a funny question, because when I was answering the Callahan/All-Region questions earlier a few people who are a very strong presence on the team came to mind, but they didn’t necessarily fit all of the criteria as well as others – I brought up a team photo so I could see everyone and think of their good and bad qualities. For this question, I would definitely say Ben Wightman. He is a silent but deadly player, making unselfish plays that greatly help the team whether popping the cup on zone offense or bursting in from behind to D an unsuspecting player. He also has shown himself to be the best self-motivated score keeper that anyone has seen, paid or unpaid, and his post-tournament stat sheets are greatly anticipated and cause for much excitement even before we’ve arrived at the field. His plays and actions are for the benefit of the entire team. I even used his stat sheets to help me answer a few of these questions. Thanks Ben.
How does your team bring new players up to speed on ultimate?
Sheri: We started this year by playing pickup on the quad for a week to get attention and interest up. We told anyone who was interested in playing to meet us on the practice fields from then on. We have a lot more structure in the beginning, talking about the correct way to throw backhands and forehands and pairing new players with the veterans to practice. We explain and demonstrate the stack, go through all the terms like “force away” and “no huck”, and try to emphasize playing as a team while acknowledging and utilizing strengths. We realize the power of the example the veterans set during regular play to show what our team is about. This year I can say that the new players picked up almost immediately on understanding most aspects of the game and after a little practice and experience, could handle it with ease.
Without giving too much away, what do you like to do on offense and on defense?
Sheri: We’ve gotten to ho stack in past years, but this season we’ve worked mostly on vert and zone and the strategies that are within them.
Has your team set any goals for this season?
Sheri: I don’t think the team as a whole has set any goals, but many of the things that I’ve mentioned throughout these questions are things that I emphasize during practice – working together as a whole and leading by example are things that I think are important not just as a team on the field but as people outside of ultimate as well.
What makes the ‘Sheep roar?
Sheri: We’re simple – like most teams, we will huddle up before the game. We break down strategy, we pray, we roar our loudest and longest cheer, and we go out and play our hardest.
Do the ROARING SHEEP have any traditions you would like to share?
Sheri: One tradition that I often take for granted is small, but great. After practice every day most of us go up to the campus center to eat dinner together as a team. We get food and sit down around a huge round table in our muddy, sweaty glory, and if someone else comes late we always squeeze around the table and make room. As we eat we also talk, laugh, throw food, strengthen friendships, and break down class/age barriers. I love it.
What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your 2011 highlight video?
What is your team’s best cheer?
Sheri: There is one cheer that will always be in the hearts of the veterans, and that’s the preacher cheer. Our ex-captain, Jay, used to lead it. He would start talking to us quietly as if he was a preacher reviving his congregation. Eventually, he would shout three questions that we all know and love…”What’s that in the sky?! I see the disc! What’s that in your hand?! I feel the disc! WHAT’S THAT IN YOUR HEART?! I LOVE THE DISC!”