Mac Taylor is big. Really big. Coming from the humble state of Texas, Mac had never played competitive Ultimate before arriving to the University of Colorado. After joining Mamabird, the rest is history. With three College Championships appearances (2005, 2007, 2009) and Colorado’s 2009 Callahan Nominee, Mac is a proven winner on and off the field. After playing for Johnny Bravo for a couple of years, Mac brought his talents to the Bay Area destructor Revolver, winning the 2011 WUCC and the USA Ultimate Club Championships. We caught up with Mac to talk about some of his hobbies, his least favorite player to match up with , and his future goals.
Name: Mac Taylor
Years Playing: 8
Teams: Mamabird, Johnny Bravo, Revolver
Favorite Position: Defender
Hometown: Keller, TX
How did you first get involved with Ultimate?
Mac Taylor: My friends and I learned the basics one summer at camp. We started playing after school, and when school was up we joined a summer league. By the fall I was hooked and (fortunately) already headed to the University of Colorado, where they’d won Nationals the year before.
Did you play any other sports in high school? What is your favorite sport other than Ultimate?
Mac: I played soccer and tennis, neither to particular success. I still play tennis once in awhile, and enjoy it, but my accuracy isn’t what it used to be, and I’ve found racquetball is much more forgiving. Also, I’m pretty decent at beach volleyball.
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of Ultimate?
Mac: Settlers of Catan or any board game.
Starting out on Mamabird, who were the players you looked up to? What was it like to play with them?
Mac: I had an outstanding group of veterans and coaches to look up to and guide me at CU. Josh “Richter” Ackley and Colin “JV” Gottlieb were 5th year captains that led by example, and with relentless intensity. Coaches Catt and Juice taught me the fundamentals of ultimate. Learning under these guys was awesome. I took everything they said as fact.
On the Ultimate field, he’s playing a different game than many people – Jim Schoettler, Mamabird Coach
What positions do you usually play?
Mac: Nowadays I’m all defense. I use to play offense, but I suppose my eagerness to huck was leading to too many turnovers. On defense it’s not as big a liability. If the cut is there, I’m encouraged to huck when I get the disc, and people are willing to take shots to me when I’m cutting deep. It’s a much better fit for me.
In your career at Colorado, Mamabird made it to the College Championships 3 times and lost to Brown, Wisconsin and Carleton. How did you feel after losing those games?
Mac: Well, I felt like shit. Especially after the first one, to Brown. We were leading for most of the game, but lost on double game point. I’ll always remember it because of how little impact I had on the game. I was slow and not very good then, so only played a couple points. It was heartbreaking to watch from the sidelines and not be able to do anything about it. That game has always been motivation for me to improve.
You have also been on Club teams that have made it to the Club Championships – 4 times (Johnny Bravo in 2007 and 2008, Revolver in 2009 and 2010). Can you explain your different roles on each team?
Mac: My two years on Bravo and first year on Revolver I played mainly on the offensive line, as a downfield cutter. This last year, on Revolver, I moved to the defensive line. We experimented with me covering handlers, partially so I could apply pressure with my lanky mark, and partially so I could have a mismatch physically on a turn that we could exploit. In some cases it worked. I had some success covering and cutting against Ben Wiggins, but I prefer to cover downfield cutters.
This year you also traveled to Prague for the World Ultimate Club Championships, walking away with a World Championship. Who was your favorite team to play? What was the experience like playing/seeing so many different Ultimate teams from around the world?
Mac: My favorite team to play (and most teams who played against them would probably agree) was the Buzz Bullets. I’d played them once before, when they came to ECC in 2007 (2008?), and it was fun then too. As a team, we knew it would be a tough game. They have some great athletes, throwers, and fantastic team chemistry. It was a matchup I think both teams were looking forward to and everyone brought their best effort.
People play against Mac because he’s so spirited and because he’s so good- Jim Schoettler, Mamabird Coach
There are two other Mamabird Alum on Revolver. (Martin Cochran, and Beau Kittredge). How do you like continuing to play with teammates that you have known for so long?
Mac: Martin and Beau are both great people and close friends, so of course I’m thankful to get to spend time with them on and off the field. As teammates, it’s easy to throw to them since we’ve been playing together for so long. We’re able to time our cuts off each other, and know where to cut for the throw the other guy likes to make.
In College what was the most intense game you can remember being apart of? How about Club?
Mac: There’s a couple that stand out. In college, Semi-finals at nationals in 2005, we played the Air Squids, from UCSD, who we’d walloped at Regionals a few weeks before. They were a different team at Nationals. We were down 14-12 at the end of the game, and it took an heroic effort by our veterans, that I could only watch, to squeak out the victory 16-14. In 2007 there was only one bid to nationals from the Southwest, and Black Tide from UCSB was good. We went down early, but battled throughout the game to win on double game point. Afterwards in the huddle, one of our 5th year players emotionally thanked us all for allowing him one more trip to Nationals. In club, the most intense games I had were on Bravo versus Subzero. They were intense for a different reason. Both teams were chock full of fiery individuals, and Colorado and Wisconsin just flat out hate each other on the field. We have a way of simultaneously bringing out the best and worst in each other.
What player in College was the hardest to guard? How about Club?
Mac: I matched up against Brian Garcia (Cal-Berkeley) once at college Centex in 2005. It was my first tournament on the A-team, and my only job was to not let him go deep. I was unsuccessful. I chalked it up to being a rookie, and slow, and by the time we played Cal again I was on the o-line so didn’t have to cover him. Now we’re on the same team, him on O, me on D, and it’s like nothing’s changed. I’m not sure if I should take away the under or the deep, and so he gets both. What’s more, his throw-and-go is as fast as any I’ve see.
If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming college player what would you tell him/her?
Mac: If you want to have good throws, watch videos of high-caliber Ultimate, and mimic good throwers. When I was starting out, the only piece of video I could find was I Bleed Black. I’d see a good huck or break mark, and go back and watch the thrower’s motion over and over again, in slow-mo or frame by frame, then practice it in front of the TV until I had it down. I think you can learn a lot that way. Release point, angle of the disc as it leaves your hand, how far to step out, how your torso leans, etc. Imitate the best. If you want to be fast, get in the weight room and add muscle to your legs. I didn’t gain speed until Junior year in college when I eased off the bench-press and made friends with the squat rack.
Now that you have won a World title, and the USA Club Ultimate Championship, what is next for Mac Taylor?
Mac: A repeat at Nationals next year. If we do, we get to represent the US at Worlds in 2012. I’m looking forward to that.
Revolver seems like a unique team with a lot of ridiculously talented players. Can you tell us what its like to be apart of an all-star club team?
Mac: It’s pretty awesome getting to practice every weekend with the caliber of players we’ve gathered on Revolver. Each practice you’ve got to bring your best just to not be the weak link on any particular line. Revolver makes a point of taking players who’ve shown athleticism and skill on their college teams and bringing them up to another level. When you’re surrounded by great players on a team that spreads the PT evenly, you improve by leaps and bounds. Taking young players from the many universities around San Francisco to feed and grow our program is something Revolver is happy to do.
2009 NW Club Regionals. Saturday. You are playing Pryzbilla. A drunken fan is screaming your name and cheering you on. What do you do?
Mac: Is this a trick question? Probably ignore it and keep playing, but since we’re talking about the past, it makes me think I didn’t take such a level headed approach…
Didn’t get enough Mac? Check out his 2009 Callahan Nominee Video: