It is Sunday morning at Missouri Loves Company 2007. Colorado is coming off a quick win in quarters against Texas State and has grown lethargic during the down time between their semis match-up with Washington University. After running some standard pregame drills, the team huddles around captain Jolian Dahl for some chatter. It is all business: intensity on the mark, taking away the unders on the force side, and playing intelligently on offense. The twelve or so rookies being introduced to elite college ultimate are not having any of it; everyone is still sluggish. At this point, talk of business or strategy is not too motivating.
Co-Captain Mac Taylor screams and yells and pushes and shoves from outside the huddle, into the center, back out, and then back in again until the entire team is screaming, yelling, pushing, shoving, and throwing elbows. The huddle is no longer a huddle; it’s evolved into a mosh-pit at a punk show. Brain Ferguson, a rookie on the team from Seattle, jumps into the center and grabs both of Mac’s nipples and twists, hard, causing Mac to scream as if his team had already won the tournament.
Mac is a WUCC, WFDF, 2-time USAU Champion, and a defensive line starter for San Francisco Revolver. He didn’t get there with his natural ability. He got there by being serious. About everything.
Mac started playing ultimate at summer camp during high school. He had no idea what he was doing and the field wasn’t regulation size. He knew that he wanted to get out of Texas after high school and when he began checking out schools he came across the University of Colorado. At this point, Mac wasn’t engrossed enough by ultimate to let it affect his educational decision. He chose his college for the same reason lots of people do: he fell in love with the campus.
While on a campus tour, Mac passed a TV screen in the university’s rec center that continuously displayed a slideshow of club sports accomplishments. His eye caught a glimpse of two pictures, the first of Josh “Richter” Ackley of Colorado’s ultimate team, “Mamabird,” skying a group of players and the second, ofthe team holding their gold medals from the 2004 National Championships.
Any freshman hoping to make the team at Colorado under Coach Catt Wilson soon learned quickly that Catt looked for one thing: defensive ability. Defense at Colorado is all about physicality. While Mac had played soccer and tennis in high school, that experience didn’t transfer into ultimate ability; As Catt put it, “He was soft.” He had the athletic ability that they were looking for, but he was afraid to get physical.
This meant – and this may come as a bit of a surprise to some – that Mac started on the B-team. (When talking to Revolver Captain Martin Cochran about Mac at the 2012 Club Championships the first words out of his mouth were, “Make sure you mention that he started on B-team. I’m never going to let him forget that.”)
What isn’t much of a surprise is that Mac wasn’t there for long. By March of his freshman year, he had joined the A-team at Centex. While his role on the team was far from what it was destined to be, making the A-team at Colorado freshman year (especially under Catt) is an accolade in and of itself.
As a freshman, Mac stood on the sidelines as Colorado lost in the 2005 finals to Brown University. When asked about the experience Mac recalled, “I remember having no effect on the outcome.” He remembered how awful the feeling was not being able to do anything. He wanted to become a better player so he could play in those games, not just watch.
By the time his next finals appearance came around, in 2007, that’s exactly what had happened. Mac developed a prominent role on the team. Catt always ran his team with strict lines, but not strict in the sense of O-lines and D-lines; they were split in a tiered manner. The 1st tier would play all the offensive points and the important defensive points. The 2nd tier would play all other defensive points. The 3rd tier, consisting mostly of rookies, would play if 2nd tier cashed in a break. By his third year on the team, Mac was a 1st tier starter.
Colorado would again lose in the 2007 finals, this time at the hands of the Wisconsin Hodags. Catt Wilson on the loss: “We got outworked.” He added that the game was a turning point in Mac’s career. Although Mac was unable to control his team’s effort, he made it a point to never get outworked on the field, at least not personally.
That game was the last finals Mac shared with Catt, the most influential person in developing Mac’s raw athleticism into ultimate talent. Having spent 4 years with Mac, Catt provided some insight into some of Mac’s obscure mannerisms. For instance, Mac had taken care of some team administrative task that had been given to him, and Catt congratulated him on doing a good job. Mac’s response: “That’s what I do.”
That’s just how Mac is. He’s an introvert, typically keeping to himself. He claims this is derived from his father, who preached: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Mac takes his ultimate seriously. Mac takes everything seriously. Generally, when you learn about someone who takes everything seriously, the first thing that comes to mind is the kid from elementary school with the infamous title of “teacher’s pet”, the kid who makes sure no one is having fun while dominating the class in times tables and reading aloud. This is not Mac. He takes his relaxing seriously. If you wander over to Revolver’s website and read Mac’s profile it says that if he wasn’t playing ultimate he’d be “Couch sittin’, movie watchin’, beer drinkin.’” He does all of those things with gusto.
Mac would lose in the Club Finals with Johnny Bravo in 2007 and play one final year with them in 2008. His final year with Colorado, in 2009, ended with yet another finals loss to Carleton.
It was time for a change. Mac headed to San Francisco in search of something different. Much like Texas, he had soaked up all Boulder had to offer. The Bay promised familiar faces along with an up and coming club team: Revolver.
Mac’s first year on Revolver was in 2009; they would lose to Chain Lightning in the finals. This was the second time in three years that Mac lost a college and club finals game in the same year. He was 0 – 5 since playing the game competitively. Martin Cochran on the loss: “We arrived the fields 90 minutes before game time to warm-up.” Revolver effectively played a game before the game had even started, which left them worn out when it mattered. Mac added, “The team was young.” There were too many recent graduates with little or no big game experience.
2010 was a completely different year. Jam, another team out of The Bay Area, would dissolve, sending years of experience over to Revolver. The 2009 Finals loss, along with Jam transfers would give 2010 Revolver enough big game experience to capture two elusive championships: The Club World Championship in Prague along with a USAU Club Championship in Sarasota, which was the one that really counted, at least in Mac’s book. When asked how he felt directly after those championships, he remained humble. He described the feelings as “sweet,” although the tone of his voice on the phone could be described as “how the hell do you think it felt? IT WAS AWESOME.” He proclaimed, “Some players play this game their entire life and never even make a finals appearance, let alone win a championship.”
When watching Mac and Revolver at the 2012 Club Championships, one might notice something interesting right after their games. Like every team, they’d huddle up and comment on things that were going well and things that were in need of adjustment. That’s normal. Then a switch would flip, just like that Sunday in Missouri. They’d stay in the circle with their hands up, and hand on hand, linking the team together via permanent high fives. It was the most hippie-San-Francisco-esque thing in Sarasota. They were no longer a team; just a group of guys having fun.
Mac has finally found a team that takes having fun as seriously as he does, and with it came hardware. He’s mastered the dichotomy between work and play, and it all seems to revolve around balance: knowing when to seriously work and when to seriously relax.