20 Days of Nationals and the 2012 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate
University of Washington Element sat at the top of the rankings for several weeks, quickly solidifying their reputation of perfectly executed play, a roster full of talented athletes, and some of the best throwing skills around, especially in wind. They’re coached by one of the best in the game and have proved their strengths time and time again, finishing out their regular season with a win at Stanford Invite. Though their post-season results weren’t as strong as one might think, they’re still considered one of the top contenders for this year’s National Title. We reached out to get some answers from Margo Kelly, one of the captains this year for UW Element Ultimate.
What have you been focusing on throughout the season?
Margo Kelly: Our main focus this year has been to build upon the momentum that we generated last season with our “tiger blood” motto. It’s important for us to go into every game hungry and focused on playing to our strengths as a unit. There is a plethora of strong women’s teams out this year, which is amazing to see. We know that we will have to work hard and earn success as a team, so we’ve made sure to maintain that tiger blood mentality throughout the season.
Danny Karlinsky is widely regarded as one of the top coaches in college women’s ultimate – can you shed some light on how his experiences have helped you grow?
Margo Kelly: Danny has been an amazing coach for our team because of his strong background coaching women’s ultimate, and because of the defensive-minded focus that he brings to the table. Both at practices and in hard moments at tournaments, he does a great job of firing us all up, strategizing, and of reminding us why we all love ultimate. Drew Johnson has also been coaching with us this year, and her extensive playing experience has been a huge asset as well, both with our physical and mental game.
What have your goals been all season?
Margo Kelly: We had a lot of new faces at the beginning of the year, so one of our main goals has been to incorporate everyone in order to maximize our depth as a team. Playing our best means entering every game 21 players strong, so we work hard to ensure that everyone is on the same page during practices and tournaments.
What was your favorite tournament of the season?
Margo Kelly: The Stanford Invite was probably the best tournament that we’ve had all season. We came together as a team that weekend in a way that we hadn’t leading up to that point, and as a result, were able to play well throughout . It was also a great tournament because we got a chance to play hard games against some of the best women’s teams in the country, and because it was an amazingly sunny break from the Seattle rain.
What was your hardest game at Regionals?
Margo Kelly: Even though playing Oregon is always a challenge, our hardest game was against UBC. After a difficult loss to them at conferences, we knew we had to come out strong against the T-birds and play with focus and intensity throughout the whole game. It was a major opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and play our best Ultimate.
How has your team grown all season to qualify for Nationals? What strategies have you been working on?
Margo Kelly: On both offense and defense we have been working to diversify our strategies and approaches. We will face a lot of talented teams at Nationals with very different skill-sets, and our goal is to be able to make quick adjustments in game time situations. At this point in the season, we are trying to taper and fine tune our game. We’re making small adjustments and working to earn it at each practice so that we can reach our peak by Nationals.
What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? Who would you most like to face?
Margo Kelly: We’re definitely looking forward to a rematch against Michigan, and seeing both Cal and Humboldt State after their performances at SW Regionals and the teams they’ve both beat.