Mixed is notorious for lots of upsets and unexpected finishes at Nationals. Rosters shift, teams ramp up, and it’s hard to predict strategy and skills of teams that no one has heard of before the Series that manage to make it to Sarasota. Bucket is my pick for the top team to watch for upsets. Their roster is full of skilled players previously seen in the Atlanta Open and Women’s scene, players who have come together to make a serious run at the National Title.
Bucket was founded 4 years ago, when captain Victor Wu was cut from top Mixed team of the time, Rival. He decided to start a team for good players who wanted to be a part of a competitive team with less commitment. Victor teamed up with his friend from Atlanta Open Chain Lightning, Chris Goodsen, and Bucket was born (they went on to defeat Rival every game that season). However, Victor explains that it quickly outgrew that rivalry. Bucket “blossomed into Atlanta’s top mixed team largely in part of us developing a chemistry and recruiting players who shared a similar outlook on Frisbee, life, and the balance between the two.”
Atlanta is one of those cities known for its high level Summer League, and almost all the members of Bucket are part of it. The summer Victor started Bucket, he also formed a Summer League team called Wu for Vendetta, with players like Tim Ernst and Chris Goodsen making up his roster. These guys went on to form the first year core of Bucket. Needless to say, Summer League was and remains a solid recruiting ground for the team.
Bucket is not a team with players new to Mixed. And yet, somehow, Atlanta is notorious for players moving between Open and Mixed teams. This could be the year that Bucket gains enough the top players at once to make a run at the Nationals Title. Notable pickups include Shanye Crawford (previously of Ozone), Julia Echterhoff (Ozone, Brute Squad), India Stubbs (Ozone), Taylor Horton (Ozone), Chelsea McGehee (Ozone), Mary Grace Decastra (Ozone), Rob White (Chain Lightning), Jay Hammond (Chain), and Paul Schrafft (Chain). Rob White is probably one of the top five male athletes in Mixed; same goes for Shanye Crawford as one of the top 5 females. Jay Hammond is one of the best throwers in the game and was a huge piece of Chain’s 2009 championship win.
True to the Atlanta Club reputation for fluid rosters, they’ve lost some great teammates, including Chelsea Murphy, Golsa Yazdy, Dani Kaplan, and Mira Walker. All three were impact players for Bucket last year (particularly Chelsea, a fantastic defender) and are now playing for Ozone. Notable losses for the men include Sam Gainer and Michael Arenson to, surprise, Chain Lightning.
With all this information it might be strange to find Bucket as the 12 seed. The season has been rough, with the cancellation of Chesapeake taking away high level games from their season, Bucket has yet to play any of the other teams they will face at Nationals (of course, this means the teams haven’t seen Bucket play either). They also credit some of their ability to pull highly skilled players from Open and Women’s due to their lower levels of commitment. Their practices consist of optional scrimmages, meaning they don’t have a ton of flashy plays or strict defenses developed. They’re just a bunch of people that have been playing in Atlanta for a while, and are ready to play hard and take down some top seeds. This sentiment resonates throughout the whole team; Victor tell us “our motto this year is ‘Like a family’ because we are about as dysfunctional as most families yet still love our team on and off the field.”
This year, they’re back and ready to compete and win. The goal is to win every game; as Captain Colin Bellair put it short and sweet, “Some of the team has said that if we don’t break seed, they will never throw a Frisbee again.” The first step is to do some damage in their pool on Thursday. With a first round game against Iowa’s Chad Larson Experience, the ATL has the chance to come out strong early and shock the Nationals crowd.
Get ready Nationals. Bucket’s comin’ for ya!
Main photo of Bucket celebrating their 2010 Regionals win by Nick Vitone