2011 Preview – UNC Pleiades

by | February 1, 2011, 12:00pm 0

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Team Name: Pleiades
Captains: Leila Tunnell, Kaitlin Baden, Lindsay Lang
Coaches: Lindsey Hack, Heather Ann Brauer, Raju Prasad
Year Founded: 1995
Jersey Colors: Carolina blue and black
Website: http://www.facebook.com/unc.pleiades
Score Reporter[/stextbox]

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

Lindsay Lang: I’m a junior and one of the three captains of Pleiades this year. I started playing ultimate for fun after quitting volleyball my junior year of high school, and it quickly became my lifeblood. When I came to UNC, Pleiades was naturally my next step. I played for the U20 Jr worlds team this past summer, and just returned from club Nationals with the NC women’s team Phoenix.

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

UNC sporting the famous Carolina Blue.

Lindsay: Last season our team made it to Nationals for the third year in a row. Though our performance there wasn’t all we had hoped for, we still had a blast and were proud to help represent North Carolina women’s Ultimate.

Who is your favorite team to play against?

Lindsay: Although we’ve been rivals with UNC-W as long as I’ve been on the team, I think our most memorable game of last season was our game to go vs. Emory (there’s a pretty detailed write-up here. After a disappointing loss to Seaweed in the finals, we abruptly found ourselves down 6-10 against Luna with very little time left. I don’t think many of us knew the score, thankfully. We gutted out 6 points in a row to win 12-10. I think we were all in shock when we won. It was absolutely worth it…games like that are the reason I play Yltimate.

What do your coaches/captains bring to your team?

Lindsay: Lindsey Hack is our all-star 5th year head coach. A Pleiades alum, captain of club quarterfinalists Phoenix, and last year’s Coach of the year for the AC region, Lindsey brings a remarkable amount of experience and respect to our program. This year, we are also bringing on two new assistant coaches: Raju Prasad and Heather Ann Brauer, both of whom bring different ultimate experiences to the table (open college/club ultimate and West coast ultimate). Leila Tunnell, a captain of both Pleiades and Phoenix, brings so much to our team. She’s an incredible person both on and off the field and the impact she has on our team is immeasurable.

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

Lindsay: In my eyes, we have two incredibly strong candidates for FOTY. Shellie Cohen has been playing ultimate for who knows how many years, and she has walked onto our team as one of the top three throwers. Her height and experience make her a formidable deep in the zone, and her ability to read the field is unprecedented in a freshman. Having played with her in high school myself, it’s great to have a freshman who already has chemistry with a few players. Lisa Couper (incidentally, Shellie’s favorite receiver) only started playing ultimate about half a year ago, but her reading skill and poise with the disc makes her seem like a veteran. Lisa is a huge athlete: she tallied more D’s in our last tournament than any other player.

As for All-Region, Leila Tunnell, and Janna Coulter are shoo-ins.

Kaitlin Baden: I agree for our two possible FOTY, but I’m going to have to add Lindsay Lang into All-region as well…she’s too modest to put herself in that mix, but she fully deserves it. Also, I’d like to throw out there that Leila Tunnell deserves consideration for the Callahan. She was the runner-up this past year (which means that we can nominate her again!). Obviously, our nomination will be decided by the team, but I’m hoping that she’s our candidate. She’s a great friend, a great teammate, a great captain, and an advocate for youth ultimate.

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

Lindsay: Leila is our big thrower. She has, in my opinion, the best backhand in college women’s Ultimate, and her break throws are always beautifully pinpoint. Senior Janna Coulter has a bomb of a flick. Look for freshman Jasmine Hill on the receiving end of the disc, and Lisa Couper and Michaela Dudley for at least a few D’s per game.

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?

Lindsay: Kaitlin Baden, one of my fellow captains, can be seen working tirelessly as a mid cutter or squirrely handler, and she always plays gritty defense. She isn’t throwing every other assist, but her field vision and intensity make good things happen for our team. Britta Jones brings intimidation and determination to our defense. She’s always pressuring her match up and her mark is scary.

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

Kaitlin: This is one aspect of East coast ultimate that we believe is so different from West coast ultimate. The majority of the athletes who come into our program are “transfer” athletes, myself and Lindsay included. There are few first year players who are experienced and familiar with ultimate, although this is slowly changing for us through the development and expansion of North Carolina’s youth Ultimate scene. So basically the first two months or so of our fall season is spent teaching new players the skills and rules of the sport. It’s a fairly grueling process for returning players and new players alike, but the result is well-worth it.

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

Lindsay: Our team obviously has some huge throwers with club experience, so don’t be surprised to see us going 70 yards. Defensively, we have several zones up our sleeves…as for the rest, you’ll have to see for yourself.

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

Lindsay: As of now, our team is treating CCC as our “fall Nationals.” Beyond this, and some basic conditioning goals for upcoming winter break, we obviously want to participate again in nationals in the spring.

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

Lindsay: Our fall season focuses on the basics: bringing new players up to speed, learning multiple offenses and defenses, getting players into shape. Throwing, throwing, throwing.

Kaitlin: Don’t forget running, running, running…haha.

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

Lindsay: We host Queen City Tune Up and typically attend Centex and Stanford. This year there’s a possibility of attending Pres Day. Personally, Centex is always an exhilarating experience as a women’s ultimate player. I remember being in shock that there were so many women’s ultimate teams my freshman year after playing on a high school team that struggled to get 10 players at a tournament. Michelle Ng is a rock star.

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

Lindsay: We’ll sometimes put on the jam box and bust a few moves. We dial in during warm up, laying out and playing intense D vs our teammates.

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

Lindsay: Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen – a classic, and on every one of our jam box mixes. [Editor’s Note: A fine choice. You pass the test.]

Kaitlin: Oh, absolutely.


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