Oregon Ego has always been a national contender. However, after losing so much talent last year, the nation wondered if Ego would return to form. Cody Bjorklund made sure of that. A 5th year player and Callahan front runner, Cody has lead his team to a #6 end of season USAU ranking and a #8 Skyd ranking with his huge skys, layout D’s and work ethic. Skyd recently caught up with the Ego captain to discuss playing for Oregon, his college and club season, and what the Callahan award means to him.
Skyd: How did you get first get involved with Ultimate at Oregon? Tell us what it is like to be apart of Ego/leading Ego?
Cody Bjorklund: A high school friend of mine (named Andy Bryn) convinced me to come and try out for the team after I got cut from the track team. I had played “PE” Ultimate which I really liked, so I thought I would give it a try. It is amazing how much history and tradition that the team has. I really appreciate the fun aspect that the team brings, while also having the number one goal of winning.
Did you play any sports in high school?
I ran cross country and track, played recreation basketball, and I was on the ski team. Sports really ruled my high school life.
Who are your heroes in Ultimate?
I am not sure that I have a “hero”, but the people that I look up to are the Wiggins brothers. Every time that I play against them, I am left speechless. Seth helped Ego out a few years ago where he would play and teach at our practices. I really learned a lot from him. His desire to win is like no-one that I have ever met. I also appreciate Ben’s calmness, throws and maturity.
What are Ego’s goals this year?
Just like every other top ten team in the country, we want to win a championship. It was disheartening going into Nationals last year as the number one seed and then choking. I really believe that we have what it takes to win.
Tell us about your season so far. The lows and the highs?
Our team is very unique this year because of its inexperience. We are the type of team that can beat Pittsburgh or can lose to a lower seed. We also have done a poor job of beating teams out in the second half. We were up big on Harvard at Stanford and up 8-4 against Michigan at Easterns, but managed to lose both games. The upside is that our team has a lot of young talent. This team is going to be good for many years to come. Although, I believe that the team has what it takes to do well at Nationals this year.
How has Ego changed their style of play from last year to this year?
It is near impossible to replace the talent that we had last year. We lost 6 out of our 7 starting O-line. Our current O-line however still relies on the huck game. We have 4 very athletic cutters that can make big things happen. Our defense is basically the same from last year because of how many D-line returners we have.
Last year, Ego was seeded first going into Nationals and finished tied for fourteenth. How did last year’s finish fuel you and your team this year?
It definitely has been in the back of my mind. But, like I said earlier, we have a lot of new players and thus we as a team have not been focusing on it because they were not a part of it. We are trying to prepare ourselves so that last year does not happen again. We have also come to the conclusion that we play better when we are the underdogs.
With four bids to Nationals out of the Northwest region this year, it is nearly a lock for Ego to qualify for Nationals. Who are you looking forward to playing the most at Regionals?
It is interesting because Regionals are basically going to be the same as conferences, but with the addition of a few teams. That being said I am looking forward to playing Whitman. For good reason there has been a lot of hype about them. The best part about Whitman is being able to guard Jacob Janin. It’s a shame that he did not follow his older brother’s footsteps and play at Oregon. I like guarding Jacob because I don’t think that two guys could be any different in stature than the two of us.
In Ego’s 2011 Preview, you stated that you wanted to win the Callahan. What does the Callahan Award mean to you?
The Callahan award to me would be validation of all the hard work that I have put forth into Ultimate. It would be an honor to just have my name mentioned among the best players in the country.
Describe what type of player you are. What do you do best on and off the field?
The thing that I do the best is always working hard. I try to lead by example to motivate them to become the best players they can be. After I got the mechanics down for playing Ultimate during my freshman year, I set a goal to become the best college player in the country. This last year I really worked on my throws and my hucks. I feel this has allowed me to become a well-rounded player.
To you, who is the most dangerous team in the Nation?
The depth that Carleton has is intimidating. I always appreciate playing them because of how they play with class, but they also play to win. I also like playing against CUT because of how similar our teams are. I expect them and Florida to be the favorites in Colorado.
On Saturday at the Cascadia Conference Championships, Ego lost to the Sundodgers. But on Sunday, Oregon managed to defeat UW in the finals on universe point. Tell us about the difference in both of these games. What did Ego do differently?
Washington came to play on Saturday, starting the game off with two breaks. We continued to exchange points until they broke us to win the game. It was disappointing that our defense was unable to get a break. On Sunday the defense really stepped up, including Brian “Redbird” Bedord who was out for Saturday due to a hamstring injury. After watching some film I came to the conclusion that our defense did so much better, partly because we kept our pulls in bounds. It was shocking that keeping our pulls in bounds allowed us to play that much better of defense.
Tell us about your club experience with Rhino. What is it going to take for you guys to return to Nationals? Tell us about the game to go last year against Furious George?
Playing on Rhino has allowed me to become the player that I am today. Playing with Matt Melius has taught me more about the game than I could possibly imagine. It’s amazing how much better the team has gotten every year since I started. I think we finished 8th my first year, then 5th the next year and then a very close game for third last year. EGO and Rhino are very similar in that they lack the veteran players like Lugsdin and Oscar that I believe helped Furious to win. It was also unfortunate that I was out for most of the game with a pulled hamstring. I am very confident that Rhino will be going to Nationals this coming club season though.
Most memorable game?
Playing Cal at Nationals was easily the most memorable game that I have ever played. Both teams wanted it so bad. Games where both teams are playing their hearts out while playing fair are the best. I thought that when we broke them three times to start the game that we had it won. But, they responded with three breaks themselves and it was a roller coaster ride from there. The UW finals game last weekend was top 3 though.
I really never have had a favorite cleat. I find it humorous how people pay so much attention to the type of cleat they wear. Maybe put me down for greens ones.
How would a knife fight between the OSU Beaver and the U of O Duck go down?
If you have ever seen the beginning of Troy, you would know exactly what would happen. The duck would swoop down and stick the beaver in the upper left shoulder. Then the beaver would stumble and then fall face flat onto the ground. Just like that… over.
Check out footage of Cody and Ego from Easterns 2011: