2011 Preview – Occidental Detox

by | January 26, 2011, 5:00pm 0

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Occidental College
Team Name: Detox
Captains: Jonny Rodgers, Wes McCabe, Shane Boland (all seniors)
Coaches: Bert Kang
Jersey Colors: Orange and Black
2010 Record: 4-11
Score Reporter

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at your school?

Jonny Rodgers: I played Ultimate in high school, and made sure that each college I applied to had a team. I contacted the Oxy captains before coming in my freshman year, and they told me where to come out for practice. There was no try-out.

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

Detox knows how to get up.

Jonny: Last year was a building year for us, which means we were bad. We had very few highlights as a team, and frankly, the highlight for me was just getting so many guys to join the team that year that would stick with it for the rest of their college careers. Last year was bad, but it turned us into a much better team for this year.

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

Jonny: Whether or not they are aware of it, the Claremont Brain Eaters are not only my favorite team to play against, but have become the team to beat in my mind, and the minds of our team. We’ve played them several times, and been beaten all but once. That one game was a very memorable one for me in particular. I marked up against someone I thought was better than me and we played very good, very intense defense and offense against one another. Unfortunately, I forget his name, but he was a crazy skilled asian (forgive my lack of specificity) who boasted being on the junior worlds team at some point. That game was very tight, and all players went as hard as they could on and off the field. The victory for us was well deserved, but short lived, as they beat us handily the next day.

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

Jonny: Bert, our coach, is an ex-Hodag who loves the sport, but mostly loves our team. He’s a no-bullshit kind of coach who will tell exactly what you’re doing wrong as soon as he sees you do it. He expects hard work at all times, and demands more when he doesn’t see it. He pushes us to be better at every practice, in every drill, and that has created a team mentality of constant improvement and a desire to win that this team hasn’t had in years past. He is also a huge part of planning practices and analyzing what we as a team most need to work on, then making us work it. He is invaluable, and this team would be much worse without him. The other two captains besides myself, Wes and Shane, are two of the most congenial, intelligent, and genuine people I’ve ever had the honor of working with. They have been with me and the team since freshman year, and the three of us feel that this current team is ours, that we built it, and that we are responsible, in great part, for their successes and failures. While I do a good deal of the yelling and on-field captaining, Shane and Wes always have insightful things to say between drills, on the sidelines, and during tournaments. They also help me with the mountain of logistics that go along with captaining a club sport here at Oxy. Shane is a stellar artist, and designs jerseys and discs, and Wes finds and schedules our tournaments, both on top of what they do for the team as leaders on the field.

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

Jonny: In terms of a callahan or all-region nomination, I don’t think any of us are at that point yet. However, Andrew Featherston, one of our freshman from Seattle, has worked his way immediately to starting offensive and defensive lines. He is very quick, has great throws, an extensive knowledge of the sport and its dynamics, is a presence in the air, and an absolute dream to work with in the middle of a ho-stack. If anything, I’d say he deserves a nomination for freshman of the year.

What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?

Jonny: In terms of handling, both Wes and Shane are our go-to guys. Wes’s forehand is my favorite pass to run for, as it always seems to find me at the peak of my run and out of reach of any defender. Shane is just the most solid handler we have. For any key play, we want the disc in his hand. He can break a mark on a whim, and put it to almost any part of the field if marked, and to any part of the field if in a power-position. In terms of receiving, my first look is always to Jamie Stambler. Built like a football tight-end, he can get up and body almost anyone in the air, and is almost always where I want him to be whenever I get the disc. Another set of sticky hands is Lewis Preston. He is pretty much always available for open in-cut, and plays with a cool head at all times. On defense, we actually have a few standouts, including the four people mentioned above (Wes, Shane, Jamie, Lewis), but the name that pops into my mind first is Michael Patton. Our primary D-line handler (besides Shane), and probably our most intense player. He will always bid for a disc if he’s got a shot at it, and will get the D more often than pretty much any other player. Two others that stand out in a very similar capacity are Noah Donnell-Kilmer and Zach Bruno. If we get a D, chances are it’s from one of those 3 guys.

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 they are to your team?

Jonny: My initial instinct is to say Shane Boland, simply because he’s our best all-around player in my opinion, but when I think further, I’d say it’s Peter Whitley. He’s our quietest team member, and has been with us since freshman year as well. Since seriously breaking his arm in a game at a UCLA tournament a couple years ago, he hasn’t been nearly as aggressive as he used to be, but he is extremely dependable on both defense and offense. Always aware of his role, and executing consistently on both big and small plays, he is rarely noticed, and even more rarely makes mistakes.

How does your team bring new players up to speed on Ultimate?

Jonny: We have a strict, “you can’t throw, you can’t play” policy this year, which we’ve never used before. It’s forced newer players to step up their game faster by working throws and watching drills on the sideline until they understand and can participate. We always have people available to answer any questions they have, and at this point, everyone is able to not only participate in drills, but play and be decently effective in scrimmages. We don’t baby anyone, and that weeds out the slackers, while strengthening newbies who really want to learn and play.

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

Jonny: We’re actually still finding our comfort zone, but it really depends on who we’re playing. We are adaptable more than anything. We don’t have very much height, so rely on speed and fitness combined with solid throws and intelligent disc movement. We’ll run with a team all day, and like to throw man defense, but know how to work a zone on both offense and defense.

Has your team set any goals for this season? What are they?

Jonny: Yes: make it to Division III Nationals. Our team has never even been close to achieving something like that, but this is the best we’ve ever looked, and I’m doing everything I can, both on and off the field, to make that goal a reality.

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

Jonny: We treat the fall as if we’re already in season. Practice hard as often as possible, go on team trips and have team meals for bonding, and go to as many tournaments as we can afford.

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

Jonny: We don’t have specifics in mind. We mostly just want a fairly regular tournament schedule, ideally one every 2 or 3 weeks, until sectionals.

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

Jonny: We’ll warm up as you might expect (laps, dynamics, drills), and talk about what this game means for us individually, as a team, and for the future. We treat every experience as a learning experience so when it comes time to show up at sectionals, we’ll be 100% prepared. We have cheers, but are in the process of developing something we can really call our own. There’s one in particular I can’t tell you much about, except that it’ll come from one of our players who is abroad in New Zealand right now.

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

Jonny: I would have to consult with the team, but “Battle Without Honor” by Tomoyasu Hotei (from the Kill Bill soundtrack) comes to mind.

What do you think about the USA Ultimate college restructuring?

Jonny: I’m a fan. It gives teams like ours a much greater opportunity to improve and do well, since we have no chance against big teams like UCLA, UCSB, and others.

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