[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Michigan State University
Team Name: Burning Couch
Captains: Jesse Ellwood, Ryan Morstadt, Ryan Heffernan
Year Founded: 1978
Jersey Colors: Green & White
2010 Record: 33-6
How did you get involved with Ultimate at your school?
Jesse Ellwood: As an incoming freshman, I knew I wanted to stay active and be a part of one of the many club teams at MSU. I had played some “Frisbee” with my cross country team in high school and decided to seek out an Ultimate team in college. I also looked into the Running Club and Triathlon Club but in the end Ultimate had more of what I was looking for in a team sport.
What is Ultimate at MSU all about?
Jesse: In the past few years, our team has been taking Ultimate more seriously. It used to be about hanging out with friends, partying, and traveling to great places across the country. We’ve kept the comradery aspect of the team alive (we still like to goof off and have a good time), but we are much more competitive and have more intense practices to get us physically and mentally ready for big tournaments.
How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
Jesse: Last year we were one of the top three teams at every tournament we went to. We took third at Tally Classic, second at Queen City Tune Up, first at Chicago Invite, and the highlight of our season was becoming Sectional Champions over UofM Magnum. Unfortunately, we were unable to carry that momentum as we entered Regionals as the number one seed. We took third in the region, losing to Magnum in the back door game, and blew our shot at Nationals.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
Jesse: I think our favorite team to play is probably U of M Magnum. I don’t know what it is but when whenever we play them, it brings out the fire in our team. Even when we’re dog-tired and have been struggling in earlier games, we always seem to muster some strength, speed, and tenacity to put up a good game. Last year at Classic City Classic, we had a small squad and were missing a lot of our big role players. We played 8 games that weekend and were set up to play Magnum in the final game. At this point, we had roughly 8 healthy players on our squad. We asked if we could play a shortened game to try and avoid any more overuse injuries. After they agreed to a game to seven, we came out hot, taking half with the meager score of 4-1. We ran them up and down the field, beating them 7-2 in the last game of the fall season.
What do your captains bring to your team?
Jesse: Well, our captains are our coaches on this team. They are responsible for planning practices, getting bids to tournaments, organizing field space for practice, strategizing during games, and being a player on the field as well. It’s a difficult position as a player/coach because you often can’t see where problems are occurring offensively or defensively. You have to worry about your own play while trying to make sure your team is running smoothly and effectively. On the other hand, because we don’t have a coach it brings our team that much closer together. We have to rely on each other for advice, support, and encouragement. Compared with teams that have coaches, it really takes every individual on our team executing their role perfectly to make our team successful.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
Jesse: Alex Edinger is definitely our biggest threat as a thrower. Ryan Heffernan is our biggest receiver in the air, although we have some very talented cutters on the team. Defensively, Jesse Ellwood, Mike Dagher-Margosian, and Ryan Mariouw are big threats.
What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
Jesse: We’ve definitely been trying to develop our rookies and younger players that we hope will be big contributors in the spring. We’ve tried to go to plenty of tournaments with a wide variety of competition levels.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring?
Jesse: We will probably look into Chicago Invite, Tally Classic, Queen City Tune-Up, and possibly D.C. Roll Call or Huck Finn.
What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
Jesse: It depends on the atmosphere. Sometimes, it takes a lot of yelling and cheering to pick us up, other times it takes silence to let people reflect. Often, it just takes being a little goofy in the huddle to pick our team up for a big game.
Bear, ninja or cowboy?