[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Washington University in St. Louis
Team Name: WUWU
Captains: Sam Huo, Emily Luck
Coaches: Abby Stephens, Melissa Gibbs
Jersey Colors: Red and Black
2010 Record: 21-21
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at WUSTL?
Sam Huo:I got involved with ultimate my freshman year at the activities fair. I’d been a competitive tennis player before college but wasn’t interested in playing varsity or club, so I was looking for a new sport to try. For a while I wasn’t very invested in the sport and it was just something I did a few times a week to stay in shape. But, once I went to my first tournament I was hooked and haven’t missed one since. The team still claims that I “hated” them at first and tried to act like I was too cool for the rest of them, but really I was just quiet (okay…let’s be honest, the latter was/is probably true).
WUWU had a very successful 2010, tell us a little bit about the season.
Sam: We finished 15th at Nationals last year, tied with Maryland. We also won our section and finished 2nd in the South Region. We had a bit of a rough regular season, though we finally pulled it together when it mattered. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite meet our goal of repeating as South Region champs when we lost to Texas in the finals. Despite our disappointment at Regionals, we came into Nationals with a ton of fire and WUWU love. Day one was pretty disastrous because we didn’t have our goals outlined very well, but after we got past that, we were playing some great ultimate. We revolutionized our play on day two, and went on to beat Northwestern and Texas on universe, avenging our loss at Regionals. Beating them after losing such a close game at Regionals was probably the highlight of our season.
Who is your favorite team to play against? Tell me about a memorable game.
Sam: In recent years, Texas has definitely been our biggest rival. It’s been especially fun because I’ve gotten to know the majority of their team, and we’ve also collaborated with them on expanding women’s ultimate in the South Region the past few years. Our game against them in the finals of Regionals last year, though heartbreaking, was the best ultimate I’ve ever seen our team play. It was magical. Both of us had cruised through Saturday play, and hadn’t seen each other before. There was really great spirit from both teams, even though it was very tight. We traded points the entire game, but a few mistakes near the end of the game cost us the W, and we lost 10-12. Winning against them at Nationals the next month was SO satisfying, in part because of this game.
Tell me about your coach(es). What do they bring to your team?
Sam: We’re extremely lucky to have Abby and Gibbs on board for this season. Abby has been a part of WUWU for the past 5 years (captaining for 3 of those), and has been the primary force driving WUWU’s rise the past few years. She’s incredibly smart and level-headed, and will be huge for us strategically. Gibbs played for Iowa State and was a phenomenal player; we’ll be looking to her for her intensity and knowledge of fitness, in addition to bringing some new ideas to the program. Together, they’ll be a really solid leadership core for WUWU.
Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year? Tell me about them.
Sam: For All-Region, definitely Kami Groom, Kate “Deuce” Wilson, and Ellen Miller. Kami’s insanely fast–will run down any huck, sky almost anyone on the field, and gets a ridiculous amount of D’s by baiting throwers. Let’s put it this way: 2 years ago she was voted FOTY after having only played ultimate for 2 months and her first tournament (which was Regionals). Deuce can only be described as a machine; her endurance is incredible and she can run at the same speed throughout an entire tournament. She also generates D’s like nobody’s business. Ellen, in addition to being a great leader on the team, is a really consistent mid-cutter. She’s always open, is really smart on the field, and puts the team ahead of her own body.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
Sam: We have a pretty experienced squad this year, with a lot of players who’ve been around for a few years and are stepping up in big ways. We’re definitely the deepest we’ve ever been, and it’s tough to pinpoint individuals. Anyone could make a sick play–my teammates never cease to surprise me whether it’s at a tournament or at practice.
It’s easy to see when someone throws a huge huck or gets a layout D. Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable she is to your team?
Sam: Sarah Ebstein brings incredible spirit and determination to our team. She’s a great teammate who is always pushing others to run harder and yell louder. Theresa Chan and Emily Luck, two of our handlers, are also extremely valuable in their consistency and solid throws; they’ll get the reset whenever we need it and you’ll never see them drop the disc.
How does your team bring new players up to speed?
Sam: We spend a lot of time in the fall working on the basics, and continue to do so throughout the spring. It’s impossible to over-emphasize things like running through the disc, throws, and catching–for new players as well as the experienced. We also make sure to get our new players a lot of playing experience at tournaments in the fall because it’s the best way to learn.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Sam: Queen City Tune-Up, Midwest Throwdown, Women’s Centex. Really, really heartbroken that we won’t be returning to Pres Day. Throwdown is always exciting, since we run the tournament. This year, we’re partnering with Without Limits and bringing back a skills clinic. The tournament I’m most looking forward to though is Centex, hands down. Great competition and a chance to hang out with players from all over the nation. Also can’t forget the dance-off–always hilarious and a great time.
What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
Sam: We have a beast of a boombox that we bring to every tournament; we love listening to music while we warm up. Taylor Swift is a huge hit with our team. We also have a few players who prefer more…somber pump-up techniques. Certain WUWU’s have been spotted reading the Iliad on the sidelines or watching 300 the night before a big game. Come back with your shield or on it, right?