[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: University of Pennsylvania
Team Name: Venus
Captain(s): Katie “Schmitty” Goldschmidt, Anna Spiridigliozzi
Coach: Marc “Doc” Stachowski
Year Founded: 1988
Jersey Colors: Black and Gold/Baby Blue and Gold (though they might change this season)
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved with Ultimate at UPenn?
Katie Goldschmidt: I remember looking at Venus’ website before I came to college (it was on one of those Activities at Penn websites) and I remember thinking that the team looked like a lot of fun. I went to the first practice and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Anna Spiridigliozzi : I was a convert from field hockey and lacrosse. I joined my sophomore year after seeing my boyfriend’s (who played on the Penn men’s team, Void) passion and talent for the sport. After meeting all the girls on Venus, I was fully hooked.
How did your team do last year? What was the highlight of your season?
Katie: Our team placed 4th at Regionals after a tough loss to Ottawa in the finals of the backdoor bracket. I would consider the highlight of our season to be the fact that even though we had lost three key players for us that season, Whitney Viets, Raha Mozaffari, and Kate Anthony, we were able to come together, play our hearts out, and continue to place so well in the series.
Anna: One of my favorite moments from last season was having the opportunity to attend Centex, which is one of the most competitive tournaments for college women. Included in this tournament was a dinner for all team leaders and a team dance off. Seeing such talented and passionate female college players from across the country inspired me to be a spirited player and teammate and to constantly work on improving my game.
Who is your favorite team to play against?
Anna: I always like playing Penn State. We’ve developed a playful Sectionals and Regionals “rivalry” and we see them often during the season. However, I would say one of my most memorable games was against Maryland at 2009 Metro East Regionals, in the 2nd place game to go to nationals. Both teams played with great heart and had so much talent and, in the end, it came down to universe point and Venus was able to win out and go to the College Championships. The level of play and sportsmanship during that game was one I will never forget.
Tell me about your coach/captains. What do they bring to your team?
Katie: Anna, my co-captain brings an incredible amount of focus to our team. She is extremely organized and always willing to go that extra-step to get our team to the next level. She has worked personally to improve her own game immensely and she is a great example of how hard-work and determination can go a long way.
Our coach, Doc, has been a great resource for us over these years. The amount of time and dedication he gives to this team, all voluntarily, is so appreciated. He also brings a level of focus to our team and is continually encouraging us to push ourselves farther.
Anna: Schmitty is a constant source of positive energy and enthusiasm. She is a great motivator who always knows the right thing to say to get people inspired. She is a tireless cutter who always puts 100% on the field every time she plays.
Are there players on your team who deserve consideration for Callahan, All-Region, or Freshman of the Year?
Katie: I would definitely say Octavia Payne for Callahan. Opi has been playing with us for three years and each season, her level of play improves. Nobody wants to defend her because of her speed, great hands, and sick layouts. Nobody wants to be defended by her either, for that matter. She’s an overall great player.
We have a few freshmen this year that are also looking promising but right now, June Freifelder sticks out in my mind. She’s tall, fast, with a good understanding of the game for a rookie. She’s tough, too, and will layout for pretty much anything.
What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower? As a receiver? On D?
Katie: Thrower: Shannon Tsai. A junior this year who has transformed over the summer into a big threat on O and D. And you’d never guess it by looking at her – she’s this tiny little thing.
Receiver: Octavia “Opi” Payne. A senior, and captain last year. Opi is one of the most well-rounded players in our region. In her time at Penn, she has been a huge threat both downfield and as a handler. Expect her this year to beat her girl in for the disc at will and jack it downfield. If not, expect her to be making photo-worthy layouts in the endzone.
Defense: Susan Sheng, also a junior and a key player for us. She is so fast and extremely good at beating her girl in. If you get off a deep cut, her speed and height will get her to the disc and knock it out of the air.
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?
Anna: I think Schmitty is player who isn’t always making the flashy plays, but makes consistent and reliable cuts all over the field. She does so much for our offensive motion and flow. Another player to watch out for is Julie Vernon. Julie is a great shut-down defender, and plays with so much fire and heart. She can also turn around and bring that aggression to offense, running hard through her cuts and grabbing any disc within reach.
How does your team bring new players up to speed?
Katie: It’s a step-by-step process. In the beginning, Anna and I focused each practice on learning certain aspects of the game. For example, we’d have a 3-hour long weekend practice where the first half would be focused on offense, and we’d do drills that fit into that category. Then we’d go over the basics of defense, and run some drills focusing on defending short and deep cuts, etc. We also incorporated not only flicks and backhands, but OIs and IOs of those two throws. We figured, if they’re learning the basics of throwing anyway, we might as well teach it to them all at once. And they are slowly building up their repertoire of throws, which is great.
Anna: Our goal is to basically run through the basics of ultimate strategy and concentrate different practices on different skills. We hold throwing practices and fitness practices to isolate those components of the game and help our newer (and experienced players) build up those skills specifically.
Without giving too much away, what does your team like to do on offense and on defense?
Katie: Our typical offense is a ho-stack, converting to poppers and wings when a zone is thrown. We also run both man and zone defenses.
Anna: In past, we haven’t done anything fancy. We look to make smart match ups on defense and adjust our forces to shut down our opponents’ strengths.
Has your team set any goals for this season? What are they?
Katie: Nationals. Colorado here we come.
What has Venus been doing this fall to prepare for the spring season?
Katie: One key aspect of our focus this fall is that we’ve been sending two equal teams to pretty much every tournament we attend. We have the numbers, and the amount of playing time each player gets is significantly more than if we took one huge team. You can practice day after day, but in the end, it’s during the actual games that new and returning players learn the most about how to play/perfect their game.
What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Katie: We hope to attend Queen City, Easterns, and Penn State’s spring tournament. We’re also hoping to return to Centex at the end of March. We had a great time there last year and it’s an extremely well-run tournament with a high level of competition (as Anna discussed previously).
What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?
Katie: Taylor Swift. Well, sometimes, actually, but usually it involves a combination of a good playlist, a Panera Bread, and our super-long, super-secret, super-ridiculous team cheer that we do at the start of each tournament day.
What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?
Katie: “All we do is win” – DJ Khaled. That’s what we’re aiming for, anyway!
Which team has the best shot at winning the 2011 USA Ultimate Women’s College Championships?
Anna: I think it’s too early to tell – we haven’t had a chance to see many teams from outside our region. You know who we’ll be rooting for though!