Catholic Bad Habit is from Catholic University in Washington, DC in the Atlantic Coast Region. Catholic is certainly an an up-and-coming DIII team. Last year they took 6th out of 8 at an Atlantic Coast Regionals tournament which only sent one bid to D-III Championships (which would go to Wake Forest). This year, Catholic has improved vastly, most recently ranked 9th in my Power Rankings. Furthermore, if my calculations are correct, the Atlantic Coast will be sending 2 bids to D-III championships this year. This leaves Catholic in great position to grab one bid, and fight for a title in Appleton, WI. Below is an interview with the Catholic captains.
Notable Roster turnover, young team? Veteran team?
Ben Nguyen: We are definitely a very young team. We lost a major chunk of our roster due to graduating seniors, but we just had the biggest recruiting class in the history of ultimate at our school. We hope this trend continues because this group of new players has brought so much dedication, energy and athleticism to this team and we are going to need it. One new player we wanted to highlight is Dan Grabowski, the younger brother of our other captain, who has risen to be a top handler on the team. Overall this team is much better than last year. We are faster, more athletic, and can compete with any team.
Up and Coming players, guys on your team that are going to be making plays come the season:
Ben: One up and coming player on our team is Richard Hertzberg, a sophomore. Rich only started playing ultimate last year and the only thing he knew was how to throw a hammer. But over the past year he has quickly learned how to use his pure speed and jumping abilities to completely shred defenses and is a much more patient player. He’s somehow always in the right spot, even though he probably shouldn’t be there. Rich is major reason why this team is a better team than last year.
Star Players, who would be your Callahan nominee? Who are the big playmakers and leaders?
Ben: Without a doubt I would nominate Paul Grabowski, our other captain, for the Callahan nominee. Paul Grabowski came in the fall of 2009 and has brought a competitive and hard working ethic back to Bad Habit ultimate. On the field, any opposing team will tell you that it is impossible to shut Paul down. He can hurt you with his elite speed, his smooth throws or his smart playing abilities. He has been one of the best players I have ever
played with it and gives this team a real chance to make a big impact on the DIII series. Andy Gravunder or Lemon, a graduate student, is another leader that this team heavily depends on. He is a former captain and plays with so much passion. Whenever we need to score or a play on defense, Lemon will do anything for it and many times destroy his body to do it. Lemon is such a kind-hearted and patient person, who will always help you when you need it. I feel privilege to have met such a great person.
What tournaments are you planning on going to in the spring?
Ben: This spring we are going to Steakfest in Manheim, PA and Roll Call 2012 in Poolesville, MD and then on to the series! (Editor’s Note: This interview was given to me on March 5, so things are a bit out-of-date. They went 6-2 at Steakfest, tying for 3rd, and they went 4-4 at Roll Call, taking 12th. They are 4-1 against D-III teams, with 2 wins and a loss coming against regional rival Davidson).
Who are the big DIII teams and players to look out for, both in your region, and in the entire division?
Ben: In our region Richmond, Davidson and Wake Forest are the big teams. We can’t count out St. Mary’s or Mary Washington either. Both tend to get stronger as the season goes on. Wake Forest went to Nationals last year so they’ve got skill and experience. Davidson and Richmond are smart and tough opponents. We’re looking forward to the challenges.
Is this your first time competing DIII? If so, what made you change your mind from last year? If not, how did you do last year?
Ben: In 2008, we made it to the DIII National Tournament before DIII was an official part of the series. Last year, we competed in DIII and had a decent finish placing 6th in the Atlantic Coast division. This year we feel we have a chance to compete for DIII nationals. We have improved considerably and have added some key players.
Do you have anything else you want to publicize? I know it’s hard to get any press as a smaller school, but here’s your opportunity!
Ben: We share practice time, space and jersey design with our women’s team Nun Betta. They are an even younger team, as last year was their first complete season. It’s exciting to see ultimate grow in all facets, and we wish them all the luck in their upcoming tournaments and the series.
Feature photo by Dave Alexander.