Uganda, Ultimate, Ultimate Frisbee

2015, a great year for Ultimate Frisbee, selected highlights

By @SimonCocking

The year is almost done, a lot of great things happened, Irish teams excelled overseas, college ultimate thrived, and we also got to speak to some of the legends and founders of the game. Here are some highlights. Plenty more to be found here. Thanks and have a good one, cheers S

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Dan Roddick, interview, not only there at the beginning of Ultimate Frisbee, he also helped the sport grow through the 70’s and 80’s too.

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Geoff West, there in the carpark, back in ’69, one of the original players, and subsequent Johnny Apple seeds who took the sport out to the US colleges and beyond.

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Then there is Nick Cash, UK legend, multiple national and European winner, with the insanely long player career from ’76 to 2015.

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Cian O’Morain then amply demonstrated that Ireland has created plenty of it’s own awesome talent too, discussing his time in Ireland and also with the serially successful Clapham in the UK.

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Early in the year we had the WCBU in Dubai. Irish teams were ably represented and several are featured here.

This piece in particular sparked a lot of interest too.

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The Uganda team being one of many teams making a first appearance at WCBU to the delight of all they encountered and played against.

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Back home all the Irish colleges reviewed how their 2014/15 season had gone, with lots of interesting and positive insights.

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Tadgh Healy, captain of UCC, Cork and Ireland shared his insights and experiences with us back in March.

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The up close and personal interview with Dominic Smyth also inspired many readers.

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And finally …,

Self taught frisbee prodigy found on Irish speaking Island

this April Fools piece did really well and was seen all over the world.

NB this in only a selection, and you’ll find many many more pieces both on SarahPaddleSwim and also at Skyd. Thanks for reading and have a great 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Interviews, Ultimate Frisbee

Marks out of 10, Irish colleges end of season review, with bonus content

By @SimonCocking

All of the Irish colleges did their end of season reviews. Here they are:

Limerick, UL, Padraig Sweeney

Queens, Ben Mathews

UCD, Conor Hogan

DIT, Aidan Kelly

Maynooth University, Conor O’Neill

TCD, Steven Dawkins

UCC, Matthew Feely,

NUIG Ronan Fogarty

DCU, Ciaran MacGabhann

ITB, Glenn Darcy

Bonus pieces

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Jim Elliot, an American in Dublin

Cian Morain, TCD alumni, Clapham coach 2014

Oisin Flangan UCD founder, Broccoli, Ireland captain

Isaac Lawless UCD, Johnny Chimpo, Ireland

CU2

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DIT, Interviews, ITB, Ultimate Frisbee

Glenn Darcy, possibly last ITB end of season review

By @SimonCocking

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How did the season go for you team?

This season was a real mix of ups and downs for us. We started off the season in the best position we have every been as a club, coming back off a very successful season, finishing 8th in Indoor IV’s and beating our seeding by 2 or 3 places at Outdoor IV’s. As a result we had retained 10 members for this year, meaning that it was the first year since the club was set up were we could field a full outdoor team without recruitment. The icing on the cake for us was that we also had Dominick Smyth in as a coach for the whole season, who had made a huge difference for us in terms of the quality of training sessions and improving everyone’s knowledge of the game which helped us immensely. So we had very high expectations for this season from the very start.

We had decided among the committee that our main aim for this year was to win the plate at Indoor IV’s as it was a lot of members final year and they really wanted to finish off college Ultimate with some silverware and it was evident that we didn’t have enough depth in the squad to compete for the plate at Outdoor IV’s.

Indoors for me was the highlight of our season by far. We began the day by playing two very tough games against UCD 1 and Trinity 1. We were inevitably beaten by both teams 13-3 and 13-2 as far as I remember, with the games being closer than the scoreboard suggests in my opinion. I was pretty proud of our performances in those two games as we played some really good Ultimate, quickly getting the disc off the sideline with crisp handler resets before looking for the deep throw into the end zone where we could use the aerial threat of players such as Luke Essex and Adam Gannon. We also worked well on defense and made both teams work hard to get the point, causing a good few turn overs. We then went on to win 3 games in a row, beating Maynooth 2 before facing 2 very tiring games against Trinity 2 and DCU which were both won on Universe Point.

At this point we were exhausted after playing 5 tough, draining  games in the one day and now had to face a very experienced NUIG 1 team in the plate final (who in my opinion definitely deserved to be in the top 8). With heavy breathing, calves cramping and feet burning, we just ran out of steam and were comprehensively beaten in the final as we could not find a solution to their infamous zone defense. Although we didn’t come away with the silverware, it was still a fantastic result and experience for us as we displayed some very effective Ultimate when playing to our strengths.

From there our season began to take a turn for the worse. With a change to outdoor training in the new year, we found it very difficult to get numbers out, I think 8 was the most we had out all semester and at one time we didn’t train for 2 or 3 weeks due to a lack of numbers due to most people being in final year, which left a lot of people (especially myself) becoming very frustrated. If it wasn’t for Dom consistently coming out and giving it his all week in, week out and delivering quality sessions with such few numbers I could easily have seen us not bothering training all semester and possibly not even entering a team into Outdoor IV’s at all.

Outdoor IV’s was a huge disappointment for me personally and it was certainly not how I imagined finishing off the season. We started off on the Saturda by playing well against UCD 2 but losing by a small margin, before beating DIT 2 on universe point. We then finished off the day by playing DCU, who were out for revenge from Indoors. DCU were on top of the game and looked very sharp from the first point and as the wind picked up their experience really showed through. We unfortunately found it very difficult to throw in the wind and were constantly pinned in the back of our end zone from each pull, which led to the my worst experience playing Ultimate, from never throwing a Callahan in 2 years of playing Ultimate to throwing two in 5 minutes. . . . .

However demoralised we were from our last game on the Saturday we were determined to come out fighting on the Sunday and give it a shot, until about 11pm night when 4 people had to pull out (dislocated shoulder, torn calf, sick and another had to work) to only leave us with 5 players for the Sunday and we had to reluctantly pull out last minute. So obviously it was a very disappointing end to our season and one which I hope doesn’t happen again!

tl;dr: Great start to the season, runners up in Indoor IV’s plate, very disappointing finish, had to pull out of Outdoor IV’s due to lack of numbers.

What were the team’s highlights, and your own ones too?

The highlight of our season was definitely beating DCU on universe point at Indoor IV’s to progress to the final of the plate. It was a game we certainly weren’t expecting to win as they had some very experienced players along with some very athletic beginners. DCU came out at us with a very well organised zone, something we hadn’t played against so far and never practiced playing against in training and we dealt with it perfectly. We stayed patient, never panicked or threw wacky discs and we literally walked the disc up to the edge of their end zone and jumped through their wall with our handlers every time, it was perfect. It was a great feeling to beat such a well organised team and to be in with a chance to win some silverware.

Anything you would have done differently, looking back?

Yes, I think we shouldn’t have taken training’s as serious as we did at the start of the year and we should have focused more on the reasons most people signed up for Ultimate, its a fun and friendly sport to play while still being very competitive. I think we may have expected too much from our beginners and assumed they could learn everything in one or two sessions (which obviously isn’t the case) and emphasized the competitiveness a little too much as it was most players last year to win something in college Ultimate. Something we are definitely looking to change for next year.

How did freshers fair go? Did you get many players who had played previously (at school)

Freshers was awful for us this year and it was the main cause of most of our problems as a club this year. As such a small club, we have always relied a huge amount on recruitment at freshers to replenish the ranks, but this year it just did not happen. The clubs and socs officer decided that instead of having a clubs and socs day in the hall like most years, there would be a whole week of sign ups where clubs were allocated 1 day to set up in the canteen and get people to sign up. This was a huge problem as we were trying to get people to sign up who were not interested in joining a new club and we were constantly met with the attitude of ‘Here lad, if I sign up will ya feck off and let me eat my lunch’. This, along with having no accommodation on campus, a late(ish) training time and poor public transport led to to a very poor turnout at our first session, only getting 5 beginners, compared to 15-20 last year.

Unfortunately we didn’t get any players who have played in school previously, hopefully next year with the work that Dom and a few other people are doing to promote Ultimate in schools around Ireland we will be blessed with a few next year.

We had only one beginner at the end of the year but he has been a huge player for us and he has come along leaps and bounds since the start of the year. He was one player that turned up to almost every session and it really showed in Outdoor IV’s when he scored 3 or 4 points for us before getting injured. Its really great to see such a huge improvement in such a short space of time, fair play Andy!

How many of your first team players will you be losing? Are you excited / positive about 2015/6?

We will be losing a whopping 7 players this year, which is a tough for any club, but for such a small club it is devastating , leaving us with only 4/5 players for next year.  We are still unsure about the future of the club at the minute as there is a merger planned between DIT, ITB and ITT and to the best of my knowledge ITB will become ‘DIT Blanchardstown’ next year as a stepping stone towards Dublin Technology University. So a merger between ITB Ultimate and DIT Ultimate could possibly happen, however nothing has been discussed just yet and we would have to decide between ourselves, DIT and of course the IFDA first if this could go ahead, if not we will certainly give ITB Ultimate a shot.

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Will many of your team be playing in the summer somewhere? (Worlds / summer lge etc)

There will only be 2 of us playing over the summer so far. I will be playing with the new club Uproar and Alan Carter will be playing with Gravity throughout the summer. Luke Essex will be playing with Uproar too when he returns after his J1 and hopefully we can get a few more players involved with clubs throughout the summer as well.

Will you follow the progress of the various Irish teams going to international tournaments this summer? 

Yes of course, I plan on following as much of the Irish teams as possible. A few of the lads from Uproar will be involved with the Irish teams, Alan Kelly is playing for the Senior Open Team in Copenhagen and TP and LJ will be playing with the Mixed  U23s in London and Aidan Kelly is the manager of the team, so I will definitely be interested to see how the lads get on.10703949_841496342542006_1899276728626589775_n

Anything you plan to do to improve your own game over the summer?

Yes, I am constantly looking to improve my game and become a better player. I’m trying to improve my throws at the minute in training, trying to improve my flick huck in particular, its something I really lacked in the past. I’m also looking to bring a handling position to my game, playing 2 or 3 points in training as a handler. I am 100% a cutter and much prefer it, but having an ability to handle and cut is always handy to have in any team and at the minute I haven’t a breeze how to handle, so hopefully by the end of the summer I will see an improvement.

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DCU, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee

Ciaran Mac Gabhann, DCU end of season review

By @SimonCocking

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How did the season go for you team?

This year was a big year for the club. 2 years ago, we lost a huge percentage of our player base (only 5 of the players on the first team remained) and we had a bad year last year recruitment wise, so this year, emphasis was put on rebuilding more so than results.

That being said, this season went spectacularly for us. After a poor start at indoors (finishing 10th) we managed to break back into top 8 in open division (finished 7th, mimicking the result from 2 years ago), and 3rd in open Devs.

We also revived the women’s team, massive credit to Dom Smyth and Brian Henderson for that they did an amazing job as coach/women’s captain. As a result, we were able to send a team to every IV competition (as far as I remember), which hasn’t happened in the past few years.

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What were the team’s highlights, and your own ones this year?

Our performance on Saturday at open IVs was huge for the club. It showed just how far we have come in the space of a year. Unfortunately we couldn’t replicate them on Sunday, but we showed that we belong in the top 8 and we will be shooting for top 4 from now on at the very least. The women’s team managed to jump from 10th in Whacking Day to 6th(?) In Ladies IVs, another massive result for the club.

The team spirit we developed is another huge highlight. People were always looking to throw around, were happy to go to training or to just have a pint in the Nubar. It was great to see.

The lads performance at Devs was amazing too. We lost on universe to UCD and managed to beat NUIG and TCD both on universe after being 3 and 2 points down going into the cap, and we beat UCC too. The attitude on the pitch was inspiring and they took a well deserved 3rd place.

Personally, I’m happy with how I developed as a captain. The team who went to indoors with me will be able to tell you that I didn’t really know what I was up to. By the time we got to semester 2, I think I had a better handle on things.

Anything you would have done differently, looking back?

Told more jokes. Did you hear the one about the blind man who picked up a hammer and saw?

Looking back, sure, there’s always things we’d like to change. But I’ll try to pass on lessons learned to those in charge next year and make the club stronger in the long run.

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How did freshers fair go (way back when)? & Did you get many players who had played previously (at school)?

We had a great fresher’s week. I think we signed up around 150 people. There were 3 or 4 guys who had played before in secondary. I’m not sure if we’ve had any that played in secondary before.. No doubt down to the work done by Dom, Marko and everyone else in the schools circuit. Thanks guys! Keep them coming!

How many were still playing by the end of the year?

By the time open IVs came around, we had about 20-25 people still training weekly.

Was this the usual sort of level, or did you do anything different this year, which had more or less success in retaining / gaining new players?

Compared to last year, this was huge. We were able to host Whacking Day again this year. Last year, we started late, and our fresher’s day was so late that we missed the beginner tournaments. We couldn’t let that happen again, so for us, Whacking Day was key.

A lot of credit goes to Dom Smyth too. He coached again us this year, and created an atmosphere at training that made people want to be there despite some awful conditions at times. I know I haven’t thanked him enough for the work he put in, and hopefully we will see him again next year.

How many of your first team players will you be losing? Are you excited / positive about 2015/6?

I think we might only be losing 7 players, Dylan, Dan, Estelle, Hanna, Marcel, Matty and Kev. (If I’ve forgotten anyone, you should have come to training more :P) Brian just finished his masters, but he was talking about a PhD in DCU too so he might be still around. I’m not saying DCU Ultimate played a part in that decision, but I know he’d love to add an IV medal to his collection 😉

I am hugely excited for next year, and the years after that. Replicating the result from 2 years ago with a somewhat inexperienced team this years IVs means next year could lead to some silverware for the club.

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Will many of your team be playing in the summer somewhere? (Worlds / summer lge etc)

Yeah, a lot of the players still in Dublin have started training with Gravity. Ger and Purdy are doing a great job and I know the standard at week 1 training next September is going to be incredible. DCU are going to Sandslash too. Hanna, one of the Erasmus students, is Polish and she managed to get us in.

TP and Estelle are on the under 23s mixed team, Brian is on the senior mixed team and recent alumni Alan K is on the senior open team. I know they’ll do club and country proud, and DCU are behind them all the way!

Will you follow the progress of the various Irish teams going to international tournaments this summer?

Yeah, definitely! I remember doing assignments during WCBU with the project on one screen and the live feed of the matches on another. It wasn’t a very productive week for me, but dammit it was fun. Internationally, we are a strong threat, so exciting things are to come during the summer. Club results from Tom’s Tourney, and now just this weekend at Tour 1 show that we can battle with the best in Europe and I know the teams are hungry for gold!

Anything you plan to do to improve your own game over the summer?

I’ll be playing with Snatch this summer if they’ll have me, so hopefully I can nail down how to throw in the wind. There’s always aspects of my game I’m trying to improve, but I usually notice them on a training by training/tournament by tournament basis. I’m always looking to learn, and be better than I was during the previous point. One thing I’m trying to do long term is work on hucks, and add that extra threat to my game.

What else should we have asked you / would you like to add?

I’d just like to thank everyone in and out of DCU for making it an amazing year of frisbee. It was exhausting at times, but to see the club and the team we built over the year makes it all worthwhile. Thanks again guys! See you on the field 🙂 xo

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Galway, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee

Ronan Fogarty, NUIG, Galway end of season review

By @SimonCocking

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How did the season go for your team?

Overall I feel that NUIG had a very solid season maintaining the standards we have set for ourselves. Open indoor IV’s was slightly disappointing as a slow start meant that we couldn’t finish where we expected to going into the tournament. At women’s indoors a team made up of predominantly beginners put in several strong performances against much more experienced teams and showing the potential they have. Mixed indoors saw another solid display with the team finishing 7th and some of our beginner girls turning in strong performances. The conclusion of the indoor season saw our women’s team pull off a shock victory at devs showing just how far they have progressed in the year.

The outdoor season was, to me anyway, quite successful though results didn’t always reflect that. At Siege the NUIG team was used to try and get the developmentals team playing together along with one or two experienced heads. This team performed extremely well beating their seeding and learning some very important lessons along the way. Unfortunately this didn’t translate to devs where they failed to win a game but still showed that there will be some very strong players on the team for the future. Siege was also a major milestone for the NUIG womens team, and the club, as it was the first time a women’s team from Galway took part in any outdoor competition as far as I’m aware. The girls gave by far the best showing of any Galway team at the tournament, losing their only substitute to injury early in the second game they went on to iron man the remainder of the tournament and with three universe point losses no one got an easy game against the Galway girls.

Mixed outdoor IV’s saw the best outdoor tournament finish of the season with NUIG finishing 5th and only losing to eventual winners UCC, if I’m remembering that correctly. At open IV’s we cam 6th for the third year in a row, holding our seeding in the process. the team played well throughout the tournament but came away slightly disappointed not to have given a better showing of ourselves in the 5th/6th game against a strong Maynooth team.

Overall there were a lot of positives to take from the year and a strong base to build for the future from.

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What were the team’s highlights, and your own ones too?

The performance of NUIG in both divisions of siege is undoubtedly a highlight for the team especially because most of the players across the two teams had less than a years experience. It’s also hard to look past the win at ladies devs, It’s always nice to get some silverware.

My own highlights would have to be playing at my first siege and playing a beach tournament in France (Yes but Nau) with the college.

Anything you would have done differently, looking back?

I definitely would have tried to have more of an emphasis on fitness at training as our fitness levels cost us towards the end of tournaments this year.

How did freshers fair go (way back when)? Did you get many players who had played previously (at school)?

We managed to take in a lot of beginners with about 70-80 at the first training session (though giving out free burrito vouchers could’ve had something to do with that). I don’t think any of them, bar some of the foreign lads who came over for the year, but they seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.

How many were still playing by the end of the year?

We managed to hold onto about 12 of our beginners.

Was this the usual sort of level, or did you do anything different this year, which had more or less success in retaining / gaining new players?

I think that this is quite a large number in comparison to the last couple of years anyway. I don’t think we did anything hugely different this year but I think more and more people are hearing about the sport before they get to college which makes our job easier. We also made a big effort to make them feel part of the team.

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How many of your first team players will you be losing? Are you excited / positive about 2015/6?

We’re losing Nial McDermott, LJ Fitzgerald and Eoin Breen, three players with a lot of experience between them which will be a big loss, but I think the younger lads on the team are ready to step up next year and really make a mark on the team.

As for 2015/16 I’m always positive going into a new season and I think we have a lot of talent in the club to build a very strong team from.

Will many of your team be playing in the summer somewhere? (Worlds / summer lge etc)

Our outgoing captain Emma O’Callaghan will be playing with the senior womens team. We have LJ on the U-23 mixed team and Dorothee Driever will be on the Irish Junior womens team, we just won’t mention that she’s German.

As for everyone else hopefully they try and keep up some kind of ultimate over the summer and come back stronger in September.

Will you follow the progress of the various Irish teams going to international tournaments this summer?

Definitely, I’ll be following them as much as possible and hopefully we can get a few of the games streamed live as the Irish always put up a good fight against whoever they play.

Anything you plan to do to improve your own game over the summer?

I really want to get my throwing better over the summer so I’ll be doing a lot of it over the summer and in the main I just plan to try and keep fit so I can ht the ground running at the start of next year.

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What else should we have asked you / would you like to add?

Just that I’m really looking forward to the next college year and that I’m really excited to see how Irish ultimate will grow in and out of colleges over the next few years.

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Interview, UCC, Ultimate Frisbee

Matthew Feely, UCC end of season review

By @SimonCocking

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How did the season go for you team?

I’ll just be talking about the open team here, the girls had a pretty impressive season and I wouldn’t be doing it justice talking about it!

The season didn’t end the way we wanted but you couldn’t say it wasn’t a successful year. For me, the enjoyment is at trainings. We train together each week and judging the year on one weekend would be silly. Everyone made an extra effort to push themselves and each other at training this year. We all had great craic off the pitch as well and didn’t wanna lose to each other which made things more competitive at training. It’s definitely been my favourite year in UCC.

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What were the team’s highlights, and your own ones too?

Hmm, Siege was a huge highlight for a lot of us. Our team had a mix of talent from very strong players to beginners so we felt no pressure to finish high, we just wanted to enjoy playing together. We had a great game against Gentle where everything clicked and our quarter against GB on Sunday morning was a great battle. Our semifinal at mixed outdoors was also really fun.

UCD’s deep game was unstoppable, I think they came down with everything in the air and we found ourselves having to break twice or three times to win. Our girls did a great job getting some D’s and moving the disc on offence which helped us a lot. Universe point was spicy enough, one of our players dropped two pancakes in the endzone but somehow caught a dodgy hammer while laying out.

My own highlights have more to do with training. In my first year people were strolling down 20mins late to training and we often didn’t have fitness because only two or three of us showed up. This year there was a huge buy in from the lads, we only had people late to the first two sessions of the year and had 12+ people at fitness each week. The lads really pushed hard at training too which made really fun and a pleasure to coach and play with them all year.

Our second team finishing in the top 8 at IVs was pretty special too! They were unlucky in two universe point games on Sunday but fought hard all weekend. It was awesome to have two UCC teams in the top 8, especially since college teams are getting more and more competitive each year.

Anything you would have done differently, looking back?

We sort of burned out after Siege and had a lot of injured players which made it tough to have a big build up to IVs. So I think I would have planned the season a bit differently and encouraged more gym sessions than fitness sessions especially before Christmas. Personally, I’d have focused more on the positives than negatives at training. I often assume that the positives speak for themselves and focus on what went wrong and how to improve.

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How did freshers fair go (way back when)? & Did you get many players who had played previously (at school)

The development of the club is the most important thing each year. If you can ensure the club will go strong once you’ve left then you’ve done a good job. We put a lot of effort into recruitment and retention and we were very happy with the beginners this year. We got a few players from schools in Ballincollig alright. In the last two years, about half of our first team had started in school.

Without the work put in by people like Donal Murray and Fergus McAuliffe, UCC Open wouldn’t have had a competitive open team in the last two years. We also had one fresher who played in PE in Limerick with UL students. He said he came into college with ultimate as his new sport so UL must be doing a great job!

How many were still playing by the end of the year?

There are around 10 guys still playing.

Was this the usual sort of level, or did you do anything different this year, which had more or less success in retaining / gaining new players?

This has been the best recruiting year while I’ve been in UCC anyway. We made more of an effort this year to get to know loads of the beginners and have more parties and it worked really well. We also changed our approach to coaching the beginners so we could give them a large window for success while challenging the more athletic freshers and teaching proper ultimate.

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How many of your first team players will you be losing? Are you excited / positive about 2015/6?

We’re losing three of our first team players next year but a lot of us are going into final year so we might not be around as much. I’m always excited about the next year! I’m also looking forward to just being a player next year. I was captain and coach the last two years so I think a new leadership will be great for everyone.

Will many of your team be playing in the summer somewhere? (Worlds / summer lge etc)

There will be seven players on the U23 open team and seven players (four guys and three girls) on the U23 mixed team who’ll be competing in London this July (there’s also two other UCC students on the mixed team who don’t compete or train with UCC). We also have six girls on the EUC women’s team who’ll be competing in Copenhagen at the end of July/start of August. There’ll be players competing at tournaments like Tour and Windmill with their club teams, Rebel Ultimate and Pelt Ultimate.

Cork Summer League is starting soon which draws a lot of UCC players too.

Will you follow the progress of the various Irish teams going to international tournaments this summer? 

Definitely! Anyone who knows me knows I’ve a slight obsession with ultimate so I’ll be keeping a close eye on national teams this summer. Ireland always manages a few aul upsets or scares so it’ll be great to see what Ireland can do this year.

Anything you plan to do to improve your own game over the summer?

I’ve U23 worlds coming up so I’m trying to throw everyday between now and then along with two gym sessions and at least one fitness session each week. I’ll also be training with Ballincollig Ultimate twice a week. I’m trying to push myself harder as well. I feel that this U23 team is better than our last one and it’s sometimes easy to rest on that but we won’t be playing them at worlds, obviously. We’ll be playing other countries who probably have had a similar improvement so it’ll be important to get the most out of myself in the next few weeks.

What else should we have asked you / would you like to add?

Hmm.. The most important thing for college teams’ leadership is to think about the next few years as well as the year they’re in charge. A really successful year is great but a really successful program is much better. I think the desire to win can overshadow this sometimes but I feel it’s important to think about the future of the program as well.

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Interviews, Ultimate

An American take on Irish Ultimate, Mr Jim Elliot

By @SimonCocking selected images by Get Horizontal

As befitting for a man who doubles up as a comedian by night, this was a great interview, even, or perhaps because, it was so long in the making.  Don’t believe anyone who says great art doesn’t take a long time to create. Delighted to present this interview with probably our longest standing Irish based American player, Jim Elliot @Jimpetuous, whoop whoop.

hat league dublin 2011

Your back ground, you played in the states before you came here?

I started playing organised ultimate in college, at William & Mary in southern Virginia; during the summers I’d play in the Washington DC league.  My college Ultimate experience oddly mirrored what I came to see in Ireland, in that I caught the program just as it rose from “bunch of stoned dudes having fun” to “competitive team”.  My freshman year we all wore cotton T-shirts and every player was number 420; my senior year we qualified for College Nationals and made the final four.

You first came to Ireland 2001/2? To study, what do you remember of that time, has ultimate changed since then?

I first came to Ireland in the autumn of 2002.  I had finished college with a degree in computer science, and this was right when the tech bubble had burst, so I wasn’t working at anything serious.  A friend of mine found out that USIT would sell you a work visa for Ireland if you were a recent college graduate, and at the time I was stacking pallets in a warehouse.  I figured if I’m just going to work an hourly job, I might as well move somewhere I’d never been and have some fun.

The month before I moved, I met Eoghan Barry, who told me that yes, they had Ultimate in Dublin; I think he was the one who originally told me about the Saturday pickup games in Herbert Park.

EUC2003Open2 Bottom row, 3rd from left

You played for the national team in ’03 in France. What did you think of the experience?

1 personally

As an ultimate experience, it was super fun and remains one of my fondest tournament memories.  I was proud to have made a national team, even if I was only an option due to a lack of domestic players.  I’d never seen anything operating on this kind of international scale before.  The tournament kicked off with a parade through the centre of the town before the opening game.  How delightfully European, I thought.

2 from the perspective of how the team played? 

I think the team played about as well as you could expect, given the level of preparation and youth.  Aside from yourself, Dom, Stokes, and OJ, all of the other players were still in college, weren’t they?  I recall a few training weekends, but I’d be shocked if we’d played a single competitive game against anyone before landing in France.

Did you try out for the national team again, or was that enough for you (we had quite a few debutants that year who never played for Ireland again afterwards. Something in the water that year?)

I never tried out again.  I was away in 2007, and then by 2011 there had been a total step change in terms of the commitment required.  I got the email about the tryouts and the tournaments the team would be attending, and I knew it wasn’t for me.  I’m under no illusions as to my own level of play – I’d put myself on the upper end of the casual players.  If your team is competitive enough to have track workouts, I probably don’t belong there.

bubblepest 2015 (1)

After that you left Ireland, I think? What made you come back (the love of a good woman? but anything else too)

I left Ireland in November of 2003, and came back in September of 2007.  My girlfriend and I had made it through a good four years of long distance, and it was time to try to get be together properly.  We got married in 2012 (kids, don’t let anybody tell you long distance relationships are impossible!)

nationals 2002

What’s you perspective on Irish ultimate over the 13 or so years you’ve seen it? what ;Good / bad / could do better?

The scene has absolutely exploded since 2003.  Regional teams?  High school teams?  The very idea would have been laughable in 2003.  As for the international teams, it’s very different.  In 2003 it was a few lads who were happy to even be playing in tournaments in other countries; now it’s some bloodthirsty dudes trying to take scalps.  It’s great.

What made you chose to play for Brocolli on your return to Ireland?

Probably because Mark Earley was one of the first Ultimate heads I ran into when I got back to Ireland.  Also, what was the alternative, play for Chimpo?  Ugh.  Those guys were dicks.  Who would want to play for them?

How is / was the vibe for the green veggies?

Brilliant vibe.  Who wouldn’t love coming second in every tournament?

You’re a funny guy, what inspired the path into standup and how’s it going now?

I’ve loved standup comedy since I was old enough to memorise an Eddie Murphy routine.  It’s going grand; check out www.jimelliottcomedy.com to see where I’m gigging next.

Working for paypal, any Ultimate vibe there? What’s you take on the tech scene in Ireland and how on earth do you manage and assess risk? Sounds hairy!

No ultimate vibe there, which I’ve always felt was a shame.  What with all the tech companies in Dublin, I think we’d be able to get a corporate summer league going without too much trouble.  Anyone who works for Facebook or Google or Twitter who wants to set this up, get at me!

Say a little bit more about getting to the final four, what did you do to become awesome?

A couple things happened that helped the team make the leap in 2002- consistency and fresh talent.  My senior year we had a core of 9 guys who’d been playing together for four years; and then this crop of new kids came in who were phenomenal players (two of them just won the UPA championships with Johnny Bravo, one as captain; another went on to help found the San Diego Growlers), and the combination of their talent plus the older guys’ experience made for a very good team.  Of course, the only way for a team to get better is to get destroyed a bunch of times by good teams, and our college was in the same region as a North Carolina college on the tail end of some dominating years, so they were only too happy to oblige.

Any favourite games, plays and or tournaments during your Irish playing career?

European Nationals tops the list. Winning the All Ireland with Broccoli was great, even if I don’t remember what year that was – 2010, maybe?  2011?

Also, I seem to remember some Chimpo / Broc final in… I want to say Limerick?… under the lights that was a lot of fun.  I made some D over Stokes at one end and was so pumped up that on the next play I wound up accidentally just flying directly into Reuben, to the delighted heckling of the sidelines.  (Reuben didn’t even call the foul!  Even between rivals, there is still great spirit in Ireland).  (and just thinking about it now… I think that was the final in which I dropped a pull.  Thanks for bringing up bad memories, Simon.)

How would you compare playing in Ireland to playing in US

The major difference is one of good-naturedness and spirit.  A lot of the play at upper levels of American ultimate can be marred by constant calls that really sucks the fun out of playing.  Ireland doesn’t seem to have that (although maybe it does at the upper levels these days.  I hope not.)

Do you still play now / what happens next?

I play maaaaybe one or two tournaments a year now.  Who are we kidding, it’s a young man’s game.

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