20 Days of Nationals: University of Michigan Flywheel

by | May 14, 2012, 9:44pm 0

20 Days of Nationals and the 2012 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate

Building Depth, Focusing on Improvement

After last year’s exciting run all the way to the finals, some people wrote Flywheel off before the spring 2012 season. The team, which graduated three of the top players in the game at the end of the 2011 season, has successfully defined themselves this season as nothing short of dominant. Last year the team had some huge play makers, but the goal in 2012 was to have the deepest team in the women’s college game. Co-captain and 2012 Callahan Nominee Paula Seville says, “We really focused this season on developing every player to make our team as deep as possible. We have a small squad so we recognize the importance of making each person on our team a threat on O and D.”

Kelsey Delave gets a huge layout D against Cal at Centex. (Photo by Adam Lerman)

Co-captain Kelsey DeLave adds, “Our focus this season has been on developing the country’s deepest bench possible. To achieve the success that we have already achieved and that we are hoping to achieve at National’s, we knew we had to develop each player on our team. We’re not a team of superstars, but each of trusts every single one of our teammates can perform on the field at an elite level. We focused on this development through improving team chemistry along with stepping up our physical and skills training.”

The team does not deny the huge boost that last year’s run played on setting the team up for success during this season. Delave explains, “Making it to the finals could have put a lot of pressure on us to do well this year, but we didn’t let our success dictate our goals for the season. We knew we were a new team, and that making it to the finals didn’t entitle us to anything, and that nothing was going to be handed to us just because we did well last year. Rather, we let the 2nd place finish fuel our fire at every practice and at every game to work harder than before such that now, at this point in the season, we know we have the potential to get another shot at the finals.”

Senior Vicki Chang gets a D against Virginia. (Photo by Adam Lerman)

To keep the fire strong this season, the leaders have focused on helping younger players step up their game and gain confidence. “When you have a team of 16 girls who not only deserve to play at the national level, but believe they can be successful when they do so, great things will happen,” says DeLave. “Honestly, all of our younger players have stepped up in an extremely impressive way this year.  We were honest with them early in the season that in order to be successful we needed each and every one of them- and they greeted the task at hand and mastered it.”

The captains both credit Theresa Zettner for her defensive intensity to lead the pack. Seville describes Theresa Zettner as “a force to be reckoned with on defense.”

On the other side of the disc, Seville says, “Sophomore handler Carolyn Vlach has stepped up to be a really consistent presence on our handler line.”

DeLave seconds Zettner and adds, “One of our juniors, Becky Moore, has improved tremendously this year.”

Post-Season Focus

Seville throwing an under against Cal. (Photo by Adam Lerman)

Though Flywheel lost one game at Regionals to Indiana, the team bounced back and used the game to fuel improvement in the crunch time before the College Championships. Coach AnnaMaria “AMP” Paruk explains, “The score would indicate that our hardest game at Regionals would be against Indiana. Our team was getting used to the crosswind, we were playing without our 5 graduates for the first time, and we were dealing with a very unique approach that Indiana’s players and sidelines were handing out. We didn’t end up on top but that didn’t crush our spirit or slow us down. However, the Illinois game a hard game because of the mental battle. They are a really good team comprised of a smart coach and talented players. We had to make sure that we were in control the entire game by strategically called certain and different defenses and by scoring efficiently.

The team has focused the latter part of the season on taking it to the next level. AMP adds, “Many teams can run patterns on both offense and defense, but the teams that can adapt to every situation are the teams that are going to come out on top. Sometimes you have to change up the plan mid-point in order to score or get the D. While our offense and defense strategies are the basics (how to score efficiently, man defense, zone defense, etc), getting our players to adapt is our main strategy.”

Helping get to the next level comes from the way that the team has come together in May. DeLave describes, “We joke that during May, everyone is ‘thinking for 16.’ Everything each of us does is for Flywheel—eating and drinking right, getting enough sleep, getting extra workouts in, and fine-tuning parts of our game that could use some work. We’re not in class, so Flywheel is our #1 priority. On the physical side of our game, we’re transitioning a bit from strength and power oriented workouts to speed and agility workouts.”

Marisa Mead throws an around after getting the D against Cal. (Photo by Adam Lerman)

Though the team is focused on internal forces, Seville shares that in addition to playing some strong teams from the Northwest, the team is looking to rematch against Iowa State. “I’m really excited to face off against Iowa State again. They are a really exciting team to play.” DeLave adds, “I would love a re-match against Iowa State.  We’ve had a couple high intensity games against them that haven’t gone our way. They’re a really talented team and I think everyone on Flywheel wants the opportunity to throw something new against them.”

But, the team is not looking too carefully about squaring off against any individual team. The captains and coaches have done what they can to focus on what they can control. AMP says, “May is all about Flywheel.  If we put too much focus on the other teams and what they do, we could lose sight of our goals and our individuality. We are looking to perfect our skill sets and do what we can to be fully prepared.”

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