If you haven’t heard of An-Chi Tsou, we bet you have seen her making athletic plays all over the field. Most notably, her performance at the 2010 Club Nationals with the mixed team Polar Bears was unbelievable. This college season she has led the California Pie Queens back to Boulder for a chance to win the college national title. Skyd caught up with An-Chi to talk about her season, her club experience with the Polar Bears and her Ulti history.
Skyd: When/How did you get involved with Ultimate?
An-Chi Tsou: Around 2003 there were summer pickup games with the locals around my college that my friends and I joined, and we loved it! I didn’t end up joining the Smith ultimate team for various reasons but kept playing in local games wherever I traveled after that- be it England, Massachusetts or China. I was hooked. I finally started playing with the Pie Queens in 2006.
Did you play any sports in high school?
Yes, field hockey, volleyball and I practiced martial arts from when I was a little kid through high school.
What makes playing for Pie Queens different than playing with any other team?
The Pie Queens are quite the force. They are dangerous Ultimate players on the field but they are also hilarious and brilliant. They love the sport, having fun with each other, flair, spirit, baking, more flair and dancing. The Pie Queens are known for playing great competitive ultimate while still having a good time. For example, we were part of the force that started the Centex Dance-Off and we have fun traditions like giving a pie to each team we play at the Norcal Conference Championships. It’s amazing to be a part of that.
Who do you look up to in the Ultimate world?
Slap. She’s a beast on the field and is also an incredible person. She passes on so much knowledge, energy and spirit wherever she goes. I also look up to Kerry Karter, who has played for about as long as I’ve been alive and has won on basically every level. He’s still coaching and playing and has a great attitude and wealth of knowledge about the sport.
Describe what type of player you are. What is it that you do best on and off the field?
I’m a handling cutter. On the field I think I cut well and my longer throws help contribute to the offense, and I play strong defense. Off the field I have a strong sideline voice and help our players individually and in the huddle to make the adjustments we need to improve our play.
What are your goals for the season? What are Pie Queens goals this season?
To play amazing Ultimate with the team I love, to make nationals and do some damage there. I think the Pie Queens goals are similar and we want to do it all while wearing flair and having fun.
Tell us about your season. The highs and lows?
The highs have included the road to making finals at Pres Day and also the showcase game against Stanford at Stanford Invite. The environment was so full of energy and everyone on both teams were ready to play. It was a close, hard-fought battle between both teams and we managed to pull ahead at the end and win it even after being down a little at half. One of the lows has been dealing with injuries to players. Injuries obviously affect numbers at practice and people have had to step up to fill roles. I think everyone has done a good job of being supportive of each other though.
What does the Callahan award mean to you?
I think the Callahan award is an honor for those people who have not only been spirited leaders for their own team but who have also inspired others through their play and spirit who are not on their team. Good athletes contribute to their team and some of their opponents; great athletes contribute to their entire sport. I think the Callahan award recognizes those who have done the latter.
To you who is the most dangerous team in the Nation?
It’s hard to say. Any opponent that one underestimates is very dangerous, so it may be different for each team.
Tell us about your Club experience.
I have played with Brass Monkey, Slackjaw and most recently captained and played with the Polar Bears. Last year was really cool because the Polar Bears came together as a bunch of friends who wanted to play fun, competitive ultimate. Our chemistry and everyone’s dedication to working hard for our team carried us all the way. It was great to see it pay off.
Most Memorable Game?
My most memorable college game was last year at Stanford Invite against UBC. We came back from a 3-8 deficit at half with a 12-1 run to win 15-9. It was incredible to rally together after being down and really prove to ourselves that we are capable of anything we put our minds to as long as we work together as a team.
My most memorable club game was the finals of club nationals last year with the Polar Bears. It was so exciting to play in finals! Everything that we had worked on all season paid off. And even though it was finals I think we treated it like all other games in the season. We sacrificed on the field, worked hard, supported and trusted each other. District 5 gave us a really good fight and it was definitely close at times. It was a really fun game to play.
Anything that fits.
If you had to nominate someone on another team for the Callahan award, who would you pick?
Caitlin Rugg on Stanford. She’s a natural leader, a very talented player, and always plays with dignity and heart.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to all the Pie Queens, Polar Bears, the Pie Queen coaches Corey, Ethan and Chewie, and my family. Thanks for all the support, advice, shenanigans and memories. Can’t wait to make more with you all!