University of Texas, located in Austin, TX, is one of the largest public universities in the nation. It should be no surprise they have qualified for Nationals the majority of the time, with 18 trips so far. Despite qualifying, they haven’t always been in contention for the championship, with one finals and semifinals appearance. The most recent semi finals appearance came in 2009, led by Stephen “Franchise” Presley who finished in the top 5 of Callahan voting.
Times have changed, now Presley is still helping, but as a coach. The road to get back to Nationals began in the game to go at Regionals last year, where TUFF narrowly lost when one of their players mistakenly tried to greatest a disc when he was already in bounds. It was certainly a most disappointing way to end the season, and only reinvigorated the squad to get back.
Calvin Lin is the main coach of the team, and according to Captain Ben Hamilton leads strategic development with x’s and o’s. ‘He commits nearly three hours a day to planning practices, strategy, and helping out other players”. Presley provides stability, guiding the players with timely words of encouragement. Texas owes their success to a blend of youth and experience, getting athletic plays from their underclassmen Will Driscoll and the experience with Ben Hamilton, Andrew Klotz, Aditya Yerrapragada, and Pat Jurney. With the ability for the handlers to break the mark, Texas focuses on a fundamentally sound vertical stack to get the job done on offense. Combined with gritty defense, they have been able to be successful throughout the season despite a hard schedule.
Starting off at President’s day, it was clear that Texas was going to be in the mix. While they lost to Oregon and Colorado College, they beat San Diego State. Despite an up and down Stanford invite, they came close to upsetting Carleton and beat Washington 15-8. Finally, their only other regular season loss was to the now 4 seed, British Columbia. Hamilton said that they’ve been concentrating on getting better at each tournament to build up for the series. Even with efforts concentrating on growth, Texas earned a third bid for the South Central Region.
Texas advanced through pool play at Regionals, unscathed, going 2-0. After a cross over loss to Colorado, They found themselves amidst in a close game with Kansas State in the quarter finals, a rival they had beaten on universe at Centex. Hamilton, “I don’t know what it is, but for some reason they just match up well against us”. Kansas State’s athleticism allowed them to stay in the game, but Texas prevailed 13-12 to advance to the semifinals. Despite their best efforts, they would fall short of a regional crown, losing 15-9 to Colorado College. However, the other regional competition wasn’t up to snuff as Texas cruised to a third place finish.
I had the chance to talk to Ben Hamilton the night the pools were put up. Before talking to him, I had already seen the pool, and asked him if he had seen it.
Me: Have you seen your pool yet?
Hamilton: The pools are up? Oh shit
Me: I can tell it to you if you want
Will Driscoll (Over heard in the background in a rushed voice): Don’t tell me! Let me get on here.
Hamilton (After looking over the pools): Alright, alright, we can do this
Yes, you can.
Player Profiles to come.