I was recruited by Michelle Ng and Without Limits to write about my experiences in my final season of College Ultimate. 2011 has many possibilities...let's see how they pan out. E-mail me (robyn-fennig@uiowa.edu)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post 3: Nationals, Past and Present

As I take a break from writing Without Limits team features, I havae had some time to reflect on some things, as well as talk about some experiences from some important people.

This is the first time I have ever had the opportunity to play at college nationals. As such, I remember my first time competing at Club Nationals in 2008 with Alpha Cobra Squadron. I was nervous to the point of almost being scared. I was intimidated beyond belief. Here I was, a 20 year old girl, and youngest on my team (besides Erika Baken, but she has experience to boot), going to nationals for the first time. In fact, the biggest tournament I had ever played in up until then was college or club regionials, and I thought those were HUGE deals. I remember sitting on the plane ride to Sarasota. Big tournament jitters.

After getting there, I realized, it's just like any other tournament, but the competition is stiffer....and a bigger deal, honestly. Quite frankly, the main thing that made it any different was that I was getting the opportunity to play against the best from around the country, and I hadn't seen any of them play ever before. This was a pretty cool thing to be part of, yet very scary at the same time.

What makes college nationals different from club nationals is that, in many cases, teams attending have already played against most of the teams there. I think about the teams attending that Iowa has already seen play or played against, and I can't think of a team that goes unseen by me or my teammates. I don't feel so unprepared, nor should my teammates. I can say I go in less unprepared in my first college trip, but I can't say it is any less of a big deal. In fact, to me it's bigger. I can't wait.

In the journey to nationals, I have taken some time to learn more about Saucy Nancy as a program. Learn more about how the team has grown...the journey it has taken to get Saucy back to nationals again for the first time since 2005. Unlike where I did my undergrad, this team has a ton of history....being around for over twice as long as SOL. I think this is crazy. I want the current players to feel connected to the Saucy Nancy of the past. The guest perspectives of this post are from Saucy Nancy 2005 and earlier. Players who played for this program, understand what it means to be a Saucy, and what it feels like to go to the big show. Enjoy!

       "The weekend includes a lot of long, intense, spread out games. If only two to three games a day does not sound like a lot, it will certainly feel like a lot once the day is over. Take care of your bodies throughout each day, especially with the higher altitude and drier weather than what you guys are used to. Make sure you all are eating enough during the day, with some salt intake. Nuun or other type of electrolyte tabs are great for this. Keep in mind how much work you guys have put into the season to get to you to this point. Every practice, track workout, lifting session and bonding sess should give you all the confidence to play your hardest and best vs. any opponent (no matter the school or player). Nerves are a good thing going into a weekend like this, it shows that you all want it and will be able to go out there and prove it! Confidence and positive thinking will keep you all on top all weekend! GOOD LUCK and make all of us old Saucys proud!! saucynancylove"
-Leah Borsheim, Saucy Alum 2002, Coached at Colorado Kali at 2009 College Nationals

      "I went to college nationals 3 times as well as quite a few club nationals.  They are some of my best memories so no matter what happens, try to always be having fun.  
      One thing I always loved about playing on Saucy was that we always expected to win games.  As a team, you should go into nationals very confident.  Expect to win each game (which is different than thinking you can or hoping you might) and have complete faith in your teammates.  If you find yourself down a few points, DON'T STRESS.  You probably just need to make an adjustment or two and you can get it back no problem.
       Personally, it helps me to visualize the night before games.  Picture yourself throwing the game winning throw or getting a layout d.  
       During the games, focus only on playing your heart out for that point.  You can always sub out the next point so no need to conserve anything.  I always look at the girl I'm matched up on for D and think to myself, my only job is to not let her get the disc.
       Rankings/seedings don't mean anything at nationals.  I can guarantee you that there will be upsets.  Don't think about whether teams are supposed to be good or not...just focus on your own team and winning every point.
       As Leah mentioned, nutrition is key.  You must be eating all day and drinking gatorade.  There are long breaks between games so you should have time to digest.  Bring foam rollers, ankle tape, hamstring wraps, a lacrosse ball or any other devices you might need to work out cramps or sore muscles.  no hot tubs after games until you are done.  ice baths are the way to go.
Good luck Saucy Nancy!  We'll be rooting for you!"
-Sarajo "SJ" Hill, Saucy Alum 2005 (Nationals 2003, 2004, 2005)

       "Some of you know me, most of you may not, but my name is Mackenzie and I was the captain of Saucy during the 2002-2005 college seasons.  I am still on the email list and have LOVED reading about how hard you gals have been working and have enjoyed following your success.  I want to wish you the best of luck at Nationals!  You have all worked so hard conditioning and practicing this season and should feel proud of your success and confident in your abilities.
        I miss playing with Saucy!!  Most of my best friends from college (girls and guys) came from ultimate and are still the people I keep in touch with today.  Be thankful and enjoy your time together.  You have all worked extremely hard and hopefully partied just as hard throughout the season!  When you start your first game at Nationals, look down the line and feel blessed with the teammates who are lined up beside you...then kick some boo-hiney!!  Don't be content with getting to Nationals, let every single game be an opportunity to show what you are made of.  Support each other, cheer for each other, and laugh with each other if someone bites it running down the field.  Then, at the end of the day, toast each other for leaving it all on the field.  Nationals is it.  Some of you will be back next year, some will go on and play club, and some will stick with summer league but this is the last chance that you all have to play together and I can think of no better memory for you all than a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!  And you all know you can do it!!
       Everyone has an important role on the team and every single player can be the player who makes the big play.  Energy feeds off energy.  Be the catalyst.  Know that you have worked hard lifting, running, throwing, and growing together as a team all season.  Trust each other.  Trust Mickey.  Trust yourselves.  Know that you are ready to face any team who has the misfortune of falling in your path.  Do not be intimidated!!  You deserve to be there.  Of course there will oops's, don't sweat it.  Just make up for it later. 
       I'm so excited for you guys!!  There is something different in the air at Nationals.  An excitement that you will all soon be a part of.  Take a breath, take it in, then play ultimate!!  The game that brought you all together and is now a part of you forever.  Someday you'll be old, married, and have a kid (like me!) and look back at college ultimate as one heck of a fun chapter in your life!!  Have fun and live it up!"

-Mackenzie Groteluschen, Saucy Alum, 2002-2005

1 comment:

  1. Love this post, Robyn. Makes me even more excited to be teammates with Leah and SJ this season! :)