2011 Preview – University of Virginia Night Train

by | January 5, 2011, 8:00am 0

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: University of Virginia
Team Name: Night Train
Captains: Tom Licitra, Andrew Wilkes
Year Founded:
Jersey Colors:
2010 Record: 26-11
Score Reporter

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with ultimate at Virginia?

Tom Licitra: Neither Wilkes nor myself played ultimate in high school. I played in a summer league back home in New York the summer before I came to school and was hooked. Once I got here it was just a matter of finding out where tryouts were and making the team. Since then there’s been a lot of learning… we’re both very lucky to have come to Charlottesville during its best ultimate years. Not only do we have a great group of guys that make up the core of our team, but we’ve had the opportunity to learn from great players like Chase SB and former UVa Captains Robert Runner and Tyler Conger.

Andrew Wilkes: Having played volleyball in high school, I came to UVA thinking that I’d go out for the club volleyball team.  Of course, I had played a bunch of pickup frisbee in high school and even went to a tournament with the official high school frisbee team.  However, once I decided to tryout for Night Train upon coming to Virginia, I was all about frisbee after that.  The guys running tryouts were really cool and told me how well I did, and I really enjoyed being in a competitive yet fun atmosphere that was lacking from the club volleyball guys.  I actually got cut from the A team my first year and played B team, but during second year I rose the ranks to be a starting D line player come Regionals/Nationals time.

How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?

Tom: We placed 5th last year at Regionals, which was definitely a disappointment because we came in as the 2nd seed.  My favorite highlight was beating Cornell on the Sunday of Easterns after they had rolled us on Saturday. We also had some big wins against Georgia (Easterns), GT (Regionals), and Tennessee (Regionals).

Dominating Virginia Tech in the Sectional final was so much fun to be a part of.  The traditional rivalry between UVA and VT certainly translates to the Frisbee field, and so, being able to break them repeatedly on the way to taking home another sectional title was extremely satisfying.  We were able to take down our rivals, win a tournament, and avenge an earlier loss (at Wilmington 8s) all in one game.

Ian Toner: Rebounding against Cornell at Easterns definitely gave rise to new hope within our team.  We had gone winless at Vegas (there were two games there that we could and should have won), lost in the finals of Tally Classic, and failed to hold seed at the Wimington 8s.  On the first day of Easterns, the Buds thoroughly dismantled us; our score was something like 15-3.  We finished the day respectably, but got the chance to play them again in the quarters on Sunday morning.  When we came out and rattled off five or six consecutive breaks to start the game, everyone’s faith in 2010 Virginia Night Train hit a new high.  By beating them and advancing to the semifinals of a major tournament (and just barely losing to Pitt in semis) we finally proved that we were capable of hanging with elite teams.  To get back to said Cornell game (I guess this answers the next question, as well) Jesse Macadangdang dominated his match-up against Damien Lazar, Andrew Wilkes defended incredibly well, and Brian Kiernan made a phenomenal grab in the end zone that got the entire team screaming.  I’ve never seen us as amped as we were in that Easterns semifinal.

Who is your favorite team to play against? Tell me about a memorable game.

Andrew: Some of our teammates have friends from home/high school on Middlebury and Michigan State, so we love playing against them. We played Notre Dame multiple times last season and got on a nickname basis with several of their players, so they were fun to compete against, as well.

Tell us about your captains. What do they bring to your team?

Ian: Wilkes brings the body of a Greek God and Tom brings the charm of every girl’s ideal date.

In all seriousness, though, Andrew Wilkes is your classic fiery, inspirational leader – the intense guy you want leading your D-line to break after break after break.  He’s best known for pushing us on the field and at the track/in the gym to make sure that we’re where we need to be physically (i.e. when no one else wants to run tabatas at the end of practice, he’s that guiding force keeping the team accountable and making sure we get that quality work done).  He leads by example and rightly expects us to follow his strong work ethic.

It’s hard to come across someone who is more strategically versed/competent than Tom Licitra.  He’s seen lots of different offensive/defensive looks, can easily identify them on the field, and can quickly teach us how to adapt to give Night Train an advantage.  We wouldn’t be as dynamic an offense/defense without his Frisbee mind working in our favor.  He can be just as intense as Wilkes can be (and Wilkes can showcase just as much strategical knowledge as Tom can!), but Tom also brings us down to earth to make sure we’re focused and making calculated decisions on the field.

Both guys have high-level club experience: Tom with former Mixed champions Axis of C’ville and new Open team Virginia Squires; Wilkes with Philly Love, PoNY, and Virginia Squires.

Andrew: Not having a coach has been a unique experience as a captain.  Tom and I are tasked not only with doing the regular captain’s duties like keeping morale high,managing personalities, and leading, but we also must act like coaches to the younger players and constantly talk strategy/plans/changes for the entire season.  This is common among so many teams in ultimate, but if you look at the top teams, mostly all of them have experienced coaches.  When we went to nationals two years ago, people were shocked to learn that we had no coach.  Obviously, the success of our year will heavily rely on our organization and ability to balance being a player and a “coach.”

Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?

Matt King for Callahan

Tom Licitra/Jesse Macadangdang/Matt King/Andrew Wilkes for All-Region

We also have a rookie (Corbin Bagenstose) on our team with incredible, flowing, blond hair, so we’re thinking his hair could get at least a regional FoTY nod

What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower?

Matt King on the D-line/Evan Sacks on the O-line

As a receiver?

Nathan Schelble (The Big Dog)

On D?

Jesse Macadangdang

Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable they are to your team?

Tom/Andrew: Roy Matthews — He’s one of the smartest players on our team, always in the right place, and rarely turns the disc over.  His mark is stifling, and his presence gives structure to our D-line’s offense.  Furthermore, he is an asset on the O-line as a solid cutter when needed.

Ian: While it’s expected that a captain is going to be one of the best players on the team, Tom Licitra may not be noticed at first glance.  He’s such a dynamic player in our offense, with sound decision making and the versatility to be our go-to cutter or our go-to handler.  His injury in the middle of last year’s AC Regional tournament was definitely a major blow to our offense, and we’re glad to have him back and healthy.

How does your team bring new players up to speed?

Tom: Other than Rookie Night? We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of returners for the last several years. As a result, we tend to let the rookies learn basic ultimate principles while they learn our different offensive and defensive sets. When you only have 3 or 4 true rookies, you have about 25 vets who are constantly in their ear, both at tournaments and practice.

Without giving too much away, what does your team like to do on offense and on defense?

Tom: Offensively we rely on smart decisions and quick disc movement. We really utilize the fact that we have a lot of experience playing with each other. I know where the rest of the guys on the field are going to be, and they know what I’m going to be looking to do with the disc. We also preach the idea of fitting into our system and feel that when everyone plays within themselves, focusing on legs and decisions, we play our best.

Andrew: Defensively, we like to throw a lot of different looks at other teams like different man defenses, poaches, zones, etc.  We preach physicality and hard work, and once we get the disc, we don’t turn it back over.

Has your team set any goals for this season?

Tom: Two goals really: constantly be improving and make it to Nationals.

What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?

Tom: Thursday night power hours while watching Jersey Shore. Yeah, mostly that, also some conditioning and putting in a lot of new offensive and defensive looks.

Andrew: The pullup bar at our house is getting tons of use, too.  At tournaments, we try putting people into different positions that they may not be comfortable with and see how they do.  Our goal is still to win every game we play, but as far as the fall is concerned, we are using it to build a team in the spring.  Thus, we try to keep our lines open as much as possible.

What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?

Andrew: Easterns will be a huge tournament; essentially a nationals warm-up since a ton of elite teams will be going.  Although we have no other tournaments we have committed to fully to at this moment, we expect to go north at least once while going south for the rest.  We are also interested in traveling to something like Stanford Invite, Centex, Pres Day, etc.

What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?

Lines of cocaine in the porta-potties/bathroom facilities.

What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?

Teach Me How to Dougie (California Swag District)

What do you think about the USA Ultimate College restructuring?

It made for more balanced regions, but more importantly for us, it made our region more geographically manageable. We look forward to playing our usual NC opponents, and hope to get a shot at Georgia, GT, and Florida at Nationals.

Which team has the best shot at winning the 2011 USA Ultimate College Championships?

Obviously it’s really hard to say at this point in the season. I’d expect strong showings from the usual powerhouses, Carleton and Colorado, and a good year from Pittsburgh as well. And… Florida still has some great players, but they did just lose the best player in college ultimate in Brodie Smith.

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