Over the past few years University of Washington, Element has been among the top teams in one of the most challenging regions of the country. With the redrawing of regions this college season, Element looked to keep the competition strong in their region and to be ready to dominate at Regionals. Their theme is strength in numbers; drawing from the incredible Seattle Youth Ultimate scene they have depth that challenges their opponents. Almost half of the players on Element grew up playing youth Ultimate in Seattle, making a team of “veterans” despite only having sixteen returners from the 2009-2010 season.
These players understand the impact that playing youth Ultimate had in their lives and as a team, they have a focus on giving back. Many players coach youth teams, from elementary school to high school. Additionally, a few Element players have been involved with the All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP) – a program that brings together girls from all over Seattle to play Ultimate together, meet elite college and club players, and discuss issues they face in life as female athletes and teen girls. Made possible with grants from the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA Ultimate. Their dedication to the development of the sport carries over to their dedication to one another on the field.
Beyond regular practices where they’ve pushed one another and have focused on expanding their defensive arsenal this year and games where they have really emphasized “bringing the fire every time we play a D point.” This is a team of committed athletes that really works hard to challenge one another both on the practice field and during track workouts.
With Element’s focus on Regionals, they attended Bellingham Invite in January to get an early look at the competition and see what they needed to focus on. Two big wins for Element this season within their region were against University of British Columbia – one at conferences and one at Regionals. Both games were very intense and close, requiring element to battle back from being down to secure the win by a single point each time. They also attended the Stanford Invite and Centex to get exposure to teams that they would be competing with at the national level, where they finished seventh and sixth respectively.
Among the new faces on Element this year was Danny Karlinksy. Danny has been around Ultimate as a player and a coach for nearly a decade. He has coached at many levels locally and internationally – most notably, instrumental in the inception of Ultimate Peace and a coach of Riot, Seattle’s elite women’s club team. Similar to the players on his team, Danny can be described as an ambassador of the sport. As a coach, he is quick to identify problems and make adjustments during games and also leads challenging, but fun practices. Best summed up by captain, Erica Petru: “I think Danny has pushed us all to reach a new level of play this year, and his half-time speeches never cease to entertain us.” His leadership and demeanor will be key for Element when they arrive in Boulder later this week.
Their secret weapon when preparing for the big show? Playing half-court basketball, of course!
With a deep bench, which includes strong throwers and receivers, as well as firey defenders – Element will be ready for those who wish to challenge their dedication and depth in Boulder!