Chilly is one of Australia’s longest-standing and most successful Open clubs; since their inception in 2000, they have won four national championships. Anna Rogacki and Meg Campbell took the coaching reigns – in fact, acted as Chilly’s first-ever non-playing coaches – for the 2013 Nationals season. The team claimed 3rd in Australia that year, and Anna and Meg, along with many of the open players, went on to be a part of Phat Chilly in 2014. Chilly Ultimate Club has had fielded many different teams over the years – Hot Chilly, Sweet Chilly, Wild Chilly – but Phat is the first masters side they’ve put together.
“Coaching Open Masters is the most challenging thing I’ve done, coaching-wise, because I really have to know my stuff,” says Anna, who has coached Australian U23 women (to gold), Australian women’s team Honey (to first in the nation), and the Australian World Games team (to silver in Cali). “It’s not just, ‘do as I say.’ Their experience deserves depth of knowledge.” She adds that when she and Meg started with Chilly, the players were open to having coaches, but there were occasionally “players standing there with arms crossed, [thinking] let’s see what [these coaches] can do.” By the time the next season started and Phat was formed, the coaches were an integral part of the club.
“We’re not dictators,” says Meg. “We bring a lot of suggestions, a holistic approach, and with regards to off-field preparation, the players can choose what works for them.” Meg is a personal trainer by trade, and Anna, a motivational coach. Their holistic approach includes cutting-edge fitness training, recovery techniques, nutrition, and a strong focus on mental game.
Anna insists that mental game is virtually the only thing that separates teams playing at the highest level. “They all run, they all jump, they’re all as quick and strong as one another – what will win games is mindset.” While Meg is in charge of the pre-game physical warmup, Anna starts every practice and game with a mental warm up. This includes a series of mental imagery exercises, players consciously opening their awareness of the surroundings, and using triggers to switch on their peak performance zones.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing: after a relatively disappointing 7th-place finish at Australian Ultimate Championships in April, the team had to refocus and step up their training to a higher level before this competition. “Playing a Nationals season was a great thing for this team,” says Anna. “In the past, Chilly had always relied on an aggressive, hucking style of play, but as a masters team, they couldn’t do that. Everything became a footrace, or a contest, or a turnover. Playing Open really forced us to change our game, to play smart. We really developed an unders game this year.”
Commitment to Meg and Anna’s holistic approach, which also includes tactics and strategies based on a combined total of almost 30 years of ultimate experience has resulted in a strong, healthy, and well-prepared team arriving at WUCC. “The feeling is really positive, we’re ready,” says Meg. “And we have very few injuries, and players say they feel fitter than they ever have.”
Anna and Meg are determined that, given the depth of the team and the comprehensiveness of the preparation, Phat Chilly can take gold at WUCC. Many of the players have been on a Australian teams in the past who have come very, very close: the Australian Masters team came 2nd at WUGC 2012, and Eastern Greys came third at WUCC 2006 and 2010. “They’re a great bunch [of guys],” says Anna. “A great team.”