Truck Stop has been a rising power in the Mid-Atlantic, taking down traditional powerhouse Ring of Fire for the regional title in both 2009 and 2010 as well as fighting off upstart Southpaw last year. Founded in 2005 as an extension of a fall Ultimax team, the DC-area team has made quarterfinals twice (2007, 2010) and is eager to defend its regional title in a Mid-Atlantic region that now has four bids to Sarasota.
Truck is losing dominant cutter Brian Stout, experienced handler Adam Siegelman, lanky veteran cutter Calvin Oung, and savvy veteran leader Ryan Todd. Sigelman’s loss may end up being bigger than Stout’s because Truck played well in the Series last year while Stout was frequently out battling injury—Sigelman, on the other hand, was providing sound defensive handling throughout the Series. Truck also lost O-line handler Mike McAndrew and D-line handlers Robin Poullath, Ernie Ricourt, and Russel Howd.
Mike Stephen will operate in Truck’s O-line cutting lanes, and John Agan and Matt Gordon will return to and bolster Truck’s D team after one-year absences. Co-captain Sean McComb has indicated that Truck has, “added some incredibly capable workhorses to our defensive stables.”
Truck has also added former Medicine Men big man David Cranston, Michigan big man Seth Buchsbaum, former Eastern Motors cutter Erik Salmi, Australian all-star Tim Lavis (he led the Mixed division in goals/assists at WUCC last summer and will captain the Australian Dingos at Worlds next summer), and former Virginia Squires captain Jonathan Neeley.
Strategy, Leadership, and Philosophy
Look for some big name playmakers, including Sean Keegan and Rob Dulabon, to play more offense than in the past. This is right in line with another trend of elite ultimate—have your freak athletes that have balled on D-line for the past few years move to the O in the hopes of them coming down with more 50/50 discs and providing the O-line with more defensive power to regain possession, should the O-line turn it (see Nate Castine on Sockeye, for another example).
McComb: “Our offense will be focusing on getting people open in space and moving the disc quickly. I bet you’ve never heard that one before. Our defense will work on tweaking and refining some junk packages, but we’ve always prided ourselves on man D.
This year we are focused on a total team concept. We have an incredible group of guys, many of whom can play interchangeable roles. We hope to play to that strength systematically. In terms of ethos, we hope to continue efforts to build a tight-knit and cohesive unit, built around a belief in picking up and always supporting your teammates.
We’re all playmakers. One of my favorite parts of this team is that we don’t have many (any?) players who stand out with big names that the average player throughout the country knows. We are, however, a great team who plays together, work hard on the track and maximize each of our abilities within our roles.”
McComb: “We crushed a pig at a pig roast last weekend. Other than that, we’ll be at Boston.”
Regular Season Schedule
McComb: “We have a game with the NexGen guys and a DC round robin in July [with Virginia Squires, Capitol Punishment, and PACME]. Then we go to Colorado, ECC, [and] Chesapeake.”
McComb: “We have some qualitative goals around maintaining a positive team culture and insatiable work ethic. Quantitatively, we were in the Quarterfinals last year and want to improve upon that this year.”
McComb: “Jonathan Neeley is working as our Youth Coordinator, so he’s working with WAFC to develop some youth clinics. Neeley, Sean Keegan and I will be counselors at the Capital Ultimate Camp on the Chesapeake Bay in August. Two of our players coach college teams; Daniel Kantor coaches George Mason and Keven Moldenhauer coaches Towson.”
Also, Frankie Hazera coaches the HB Woodlawn high school team.
With the decline of a major Regional rival (Ring of Fire, who is losing talent to retirement and Cash Crop), Truck’s road to defending a regional championship only gets easier—though they’ll still have to get through Southpaw. They’ll be as prepared as anyone in their region come time for the Series (neither Southpaw nor Ring will be in Colorado), they’ll play with swagger, and their defense will be formidable. Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine that any one of their pickups can put them over the quarterfinals hump.
Fans can follow Truck Stop’s Twitter (@TruckStopUlti), visit the team website (www.truckstopultimate.com), like the team’s Facebook page (Truck Stop Ultimate) and peruse the player blog (http://truckstopultimate.wordpress.com).
Thanks to Jonathan Neeley for making this article possible.