[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Texas State University
Team Name: Texas State MUFF Buckets
Captains: Nicole Lewis, Leona Osinga, Nancy Fitzpatrick, Jordan Lloyd
Coach: Blake Knight
Year Founded: 2008
Jersey Colors: Maroon and Gold, White
Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you get involved with Ultimate at Texas State?
Missy Griffin: I started playing Ultimate my freshman year of college when a close friend of mine joined the Texas State Men’s Ultimate team. I played pickup for a few years playing with other women’s teams such as North Texas, Arkansas, and University of Texas Mayheim in tournaments around the region. Eventually that got frustrating because I wanted to play with a Texas State Women’s team so with the help from friends on the men’s team and the current captains of this season I was able to start the Muff Buckets.
Nicole Lewis: I am a junior at Texas State with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor is Psychology. I started playing Ultimate for fun my last year of high school but the rules were very relaxed and flexible and there was not much structure. When I got to college I wanted to join some athletic club because I have been an athlete all my life and I love to be on teams. I decided to play Ultimate because I really enjoyed it in high school and thought I’d check it out. I was one of five girls who consistently came out to play and I learned most of what I know from Missy and from captains of the men’s team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
Missy: Our highlight this season was going to Sectionals and then be able to qualify for Regionals. My goal was to get a team to Sectionals and the first year that happened the team exceeded my expectations by going to Regionals as well. I was so happy.
Nicole: Last year we went to about 6 tournaments and we only won 2 games. However, last year was our first year ever as a team and we were all quite green. Texas State had never had a women’s Ultimate team and there was little interest. We traveled to tournaments with 8-12 people and had some of the lowest numbers of the teams there. The highlight of our season was making it to Regionals and being able to compete against many different teams. Though we were not victorious at Regionals we learned a lot and got a real feel for women’s Ultimate.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
Missy: My favorite team to play against North Texas. They are very competitive but at the same time so fun. If we have a dispute over a call there is never a huge argument; we just go over the events that led to the call, settle it, and keep playing. The girls from North Texas are very much like our players. We are both laid back and just enjoy playing the game.
Tell us about your coach and captains. What do they bring to your team?
Missy: This is the first year that we have a coach. Blake Knight is a prominent member of the men’s team and he is very knowledgeable about the sport. He is actually the friend who introduced me to Ultimate my freshman year in college and he helps out our team in so many aspects. He is a great addition this year. Our captains are amazing as well. These girls were the first girls to come out to the team when I started it two years ago. They have stuck by me, and the team would not be as successful without these particular ladies.
Nicole: Our coach, Blake Knight, is a senior at Texas State. Last year the men’s team, the Buckets, made Nationals for the first time ever. Blake is incredibly skilled and experienced and he takes time to work with each girl individually whenever they need it. He is extremely encouraging and is always very positive towards our team. Our first year, Edward Alexander coached us in practices and at our first tournament ever. He is also an extremely talented player who plays for some of the best club teams in Texas. We have four captains on our team; myself, Nancy Fitzpatrick, Leona Osinga, and Jordan Lloyd. Nancy, our safety officer, does very well explaining offenses to the team and is our best handler. She is always a happy person and encouraging on and off the field. Jordan Lloyd is our president and also one of our best handlers. She is very good at sideline talk and has very dependable throws which help out our new girls a lot. Leona, our vice president, is a very energetic people person who is one of the key people to explain drills and offenses/defenses. She also helps organize a lot of events for our team to do outside of ultimate and is very business oriented and reliable. I am the other captain and also the treasurer. I take care of getting us into tournaments, hosting tournaments, fundraisers, and collecting dues. Leona also works close with me on tournament information as well. I run most of the practices and try to help out each girl individually with their throws. I run practice fairly strict on time and love structure. The girls seem to be enjoying the practices so far!
Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?
Nicole: Rhea Easton is a very athletic and talented freshman. She is one of our fastest players and is very quick to learn. Her long throws are very powerful and she picks up on plays and reads the disc very well. Once her short distance throwing becomes more accurate she will be a huge threat.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
Missy: Nancy Fitzpatrick is are main handler she is very talented in throwing multiple types of throws. Our other captain, Leona Osinga, is a huge receiver, she is tall, fast, and very athletic. As far as defense goes I am very excited about a freshman, Rhea Easton, she is very quick and a smart player.
Nicole: Fitzpatrick and Jordan Lloyd have excellent dependable deep hucks and everyone enjoys chasing them down. Leona Osinga is very fast and loves to score points in the endzone. She is one of our main receivers. Rhea Easton is a very good defensive player because she reads players well and can keep up with them.
Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable she is to your team?
Missy: I would say Nicole Fisher. She is very aggressive on the defensive end but she makes great cuts that for someone that is not familiar with ultimate would miss. She also has a firecracker personality that is an added bonus to our team dynamic.
Nicole: Kelsi Willis, a freshman, is a threat because as a middie or popper she is not as fast as she is when she plays wing. As a middie sometimes she has a hard time breaking her defense but once she starts running on the outside at wing that girl can chase down any disc, anywhere.
How does your team bring new players up to speed on Ultimate?
Missy: During the fall season, we work a lot on offensive stacks, forces, and throws. We really like to incorporate the fun of the sport but also the strategy of being successful at the sport. Our coach and captains’ experience is such an added bonus this season.
Nicole: Slowly but surely, we try and teach the girls concepts that once they get down, allow them to move into other concepts. We try not to push too much on them too quickly. Also our men’s teams is very helpful and assist us especially with throwing and offense.
Without giving too much away, what does your team like to do on offense and on defense?
Missy: We like to score points on offense and force turns on defense. :)
Nicole: We love to catch those glorious deep field hucks but are also very good at getting open for the short cuts. On defense we are all very fast and love playing man defense. We are all very athletic and can keep up with almost every team.
Has your team set any goals for this season?
Missy: I think we have set many individual goals such as improve a specific throw or get faster but we have not had the chance to make team goals. We will definitely be doing that before our first tournament in a week.
Nicole: We definitely want to win more games and go to as many tournaments as possible. We are focused highly in recruiting and coaching the new girls. Now we finally have enough numbers to take to a tournament and not have only a couple subs. We have enough girls for two full lines now and I am so excited to see how we play together on the field. We mainly just want our girls to have fun but also be competitive at the same time. All we need is more experience and we will be golden.
What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
Missy: We have been practicing three times a week and conditioning during practice. One of my many goals when I started the team was to host a tournament. This year the proactive captains made that a reality; we will be hosting our first tournament November 13 and 14 in San Marcos. This tournament will be a great opportunity to see how we play as a team with all the new members and find out what we need to improve on before college season in the spring.
Nicole: We were able to get our practices three days a week so we are just conditioning and working on getting our throws down. With many new girls we are off to a slow start and having to re-teach and re-learn many concepts of the game. We also have fundraisers planned so we can afford to get jerseys hopefully in the spring.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Missy: We have not set a schedule for spring but Sectionals and Regionals are definitely on our minds. I would like to take our team to the Mardi Gras Tournament just because I went a few years ago and it was such an experience.
Nicole: We hope to attend Mardi Gras in Louisiana, Sectionals, hopefully Regionals, and any other tournaments we can find! We are really looking forward to Mardi Gras because it is a huge tournament and we were not able to attend last year because of funding.
What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
Nicole: The night before a tournament we usually make team shirts because we do not have enough money to buy jerseys yet. Sometimes we will have pancake dinners or hang out with the men’s team as well.
What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?
Nicole: Any Dutch techno music would be amazing because that is the music we listened to for 4 and half hours straight on our way to our first tournament ever and it got us all pumped up and incredibly excited to play.
What advice do you have for college women trying to start teams at their own universities?
Missy: Do not get frustrated and give up! Recruiting women can be difficult because sometimes commitment is not always there but when you find a great group of girls stick with it! I could not imagine not going through with starting this team. The friendships and opportunities I have created will last a lifetime, I am very lucky.
Nicole: I would say go for it not matter what. It’s hard work but the payout is phenomenal. This sport has much more male interest than female interest and bringing more female interest would be fantastic. Women getting together and playing a fun, crazy sport like Ultimate is something I am so thankful to be a part of.