[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Kenyon College
Team Name: SERF
Captains: Russell Wallack, Justin Shipley, O’Neill Cushman, Adrian Galbraith-Paul
Year Founded: 1976
Jersey Colors: Purple and Yellow last year, black and white this year
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at Kenyon?
O’Neill Cushman: I’m a senior, who had intended on playing Ultimate in college, but had never really played before.
How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
O’Neill: We had a fantastic season last year, and the highlight of our season was finishing third at DIII Nationals.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
O’Neill: The team we most enjoy playing is Ohio University. Although we have never beaten them, we get closer and closer every time we play them. They are great competitors, as well as sportsmen, and our teams rivalry exists only on the field. We always come away from games against them proud of ourselves and happy to have had the opportunity to compete with them.
What do your captains bring to your team?
O’Neill: Russell Wallack (senior) is our main captain and is flat out the best player Kenyon has ever had. During his time here, he redefined our program from the top down, and turned us into the team we are today. He is not only a dominant player defensively and offensively but is a natural leader who has made every person on this team better, and he is always willing to take time to help both new and experienced players on the team. He was on Chicago’s Machine this summer and helped them make their run to Club Nationals.
Justin Shipley (senior) is the cornerstone of our zone D and a consistent cutter on O, making everyone better by always giving 100%. He is a good athlete and his offensive game has improved greatly in the past few seasons making him dangerous on both sides of the disc.
O’Neill Cushman (senior) is a solid D-line handler/cutter-defender and an excellent leader for our team. His enthusiasm is relentless no matter the situation and he always has the team’s interest first. When he’s not tearing it up on the field, you can count on him being the loudest person on the sideline leading cheers and firing everyone up.
Adrian Galbraith-Paul (Junior) will be taking over as our primary captain in the spring. He is a tremendous athlete, a starting O-line handler, and a great team-mate. He carries himself on the field with astonishing poise and maturity, but maintains a competitive attitude that is largely unrivaled on the team. We are all very eagerly awaiting his return from New Zealand, where he is abroad for the semester, and we can’t wait to see where he takes the team as our future leader.
Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?
O’Neill: Russell Wallack was All-Region last year and should be again, and we also believe he is a strong candidate for the Callahan. Russell is the complete package. He has every throw you can think of and has the uncanny ability to come down with 50/50 discs over guys several inches taller than him. He has already proven himself capable of playing at the highest level of Ultimate by matching up with, and dominating, some of the country’s best players during his time on Machine’s D line. Despite being far and away our best player he always comes to practice ready and willing to teach and give 100% and is always patient even with the newest of players.
We have a very strong freshman class including Max Dugan, who should be considered for Freshman of the Year. Max already has a great understanding of the game and is one of the most dedicated players on the team. Matched with his fiery competitiveness along with throws better than most, he will be an impact player for our team for the next 4 years.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
O’Neill: Russell aside, Sam Warlick (Junior) is one of our best throwers with big hucks. He also doesn’t shy away from the hammer and is deadly accurate with his flick and backhands. Adrian Galvin (Junior) is almost always the fastest player on the field. Despite being shorter, he is just as likely to take his man deep as under because he can always win the foot race and isn’t afraid to leave his feet. He can also doing a standing back flip, which isn’t really relevant, but is pretty cool. On defense Jordan Rhyne (Sophomore) has improved his defensive game a lot, and has shown he’s capable of getting the D we’re looking for, then turning around and scoring without thinking twice.
Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable they are to your team?
O’Neill: Adrian Galbraith-Paul (Junior) is overall one of our most solid players. We can count on him for being a consistent reset and a complete handler in any situation. He also can line up as a cutter and isn’t afraid to get up in his man’s face on defense. He has a great understanding of where to be at all times and keeps Serf running smoothly on offense.
How does your team bring new players up to speed?
O’Neill: Our year consists of three distinct stages in the learning process. In the fall, our program is geared almost entirely toward getting the fundamentals down. This is when we learn how to throw and catch, and this is when we go over our basic offensive and defensive strategies. In addition, we take this time to really focus on mental toughness and on-field focus. We aren’t afraid to go deep within our roster, gaining experience for all of our future stars and role players alike. This stage gives us the confidence we need to go into winter training with swagger and enthusiasm. The next stage is winter training. The importance of training hard over the winter is two-fold. Most obviously, this is when we get in the shape we need to be in to come out hard in the spring and tear it up all season. But additionally, and maybe more importantly, we work on our mental game. Working hard in our track and lifting workouts teaches us to focus on playing as hard as we possibly can without giving up. We all come out of the winter knowing that we are capable of pushing ourselves as far as we can, and then doing it all over again. By the end of the winter we are ready for anything. The spring is the final stage. This is when we really shine. By now we have no distinction between rookies and veterans. We are one unified team, ready to play as hard as we can, without regard to the score or the level of our opponents’ play.
What does your team like to do on offense and on defense?
O’Neill: A Gentleman never asks and a Lady never tells.
Has your team set any goals for this season? What are they?
O’Neill: As a team, we have bought into the principle that outcome goals are not in our vocabulary. We define our success only in terms of ourselves. Our only goals are to play as hard as we can, while keeping a positive and supportive attitude on and off the field. If the team has had a positive effect on the lives of our teammates, and we have no regrets, then we have had a successful season. That being said, winning is a whole lot of fun.
What has your team been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
O’Neill: Carb-loading. Yup… I’d say mostly carb-loading.
We’ve been going real deep in our line, getting everyone a ton of playing time, and practicing the ideals to which we subscribe. We started the year with 12 rookies, so we’re not only looking to get them experience for the spring, but for the next few years of Kenyon Ultimate.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
O’Neill: We haven’t really made up our minds yet in terms of tourneys for the spring, but you’ll definitely be hearing from us in the post-season.
What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
O’Neill: We usually just work on getting focused. We generally take a few deep breaths as a team, try to find an image to come back to if we lose focus, and feel the positive energy as a team.
What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?
O’Neill: Monster by Kanye West, featuring Rick Ross, Bon Iver, Jay Z, and Nicki Minaj.
What do you think about the USA Ultimate College restructuring?
O’Neill: We can’t wait.
Which team has the best shot at winning the 2011 USA Ultimate College Championships?
O’Neill: We do.