Women's Division 2 UWON Preview

Main Writer: Giulia
Editor/Additional Contributions: Hazard
Western Region Contributor: Katie

This article is a preview of University Nationals this weekend. To find the other Women's preview, head over to the ShowGame here

At this year’s UWON Division 2 there will be an array of abilities contending, from squads that are looking for top spots and others that are looking to develop chemistry against higher level teams. Nevertheless I’m sure all the ladies will be bringing their A-game to the last University fixture of the year (shed a tear)! Here are our predictions for the tournament, followed by a rundown of each team

1. Bath
2. Exeter
3. Newcastle 
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4. Sheffield
5. Huddersfield 
6. UEA 
7. Southampton 
8. York 
9. Swansea 
10. Edinburgh 2


Podium Predictions

It was surprising not to see Bath make Division 1 this year, after being a consistent contender in previous years. Having not trained together as a team all year has seriously hindered their team chemistry, as they seemed to experience an uncharacteristic number of miscommunications at Regionals. They are, however, a group of talented individuals, namely handler Georgia Murphy (GB U24), and cutters Beatrix Perks (GB U24)/Issy Clements (Brighton Breezy). Their players are notoriously well drilled and skilled in fundamental frisbee so hopefully with some time to train over the Easter period, we may see Bath back on form fighting for a podium finish at Nationals.

After their outstanding triumph at regionals and 2nd place at Nationals last year it may be surprising to see Exeter Urielle in Division 2 this year. Losses of Cat Pope (Devon, GB U24), Jess Taylor (Devon) and Helen Thompson (Canada U23) seem to have hit this team hard, with a shock loss in the game to go to Indoor Nationals earlier this year. Still, Urielle girls are known for being fierce and hard working, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them bounce back and push for a high finish at this tournament. Watch out for core players Captain Molly Arnett and Vice Captain Emma Pickens (Devon, GB U24), who are likely to be instrumental in Urielle's offence.


Helen Thompson (left) was one of many players who
helped Exeter to second place in UWON 2016
Photo by Andrew Moss for the ShowGame

Newcastle Pies have stood in good stead all throughout the Indoor and Outdoor season so far, maintaining strong finishes from their 2015/16 fixtures. With consistently strong handler play, they dominated teams at Regionals, particularly with their 7-4 win against Division 1-team Loughborough on the Sunday morning! Pies have seen captain/GB U24 player Dianne Marquez Lopez suffer a recent injury at Mixed Tour 1, however their drive and determination will carry them through the weekend to maintain a top spot in Div 2 I’m sure. Watch out for their pool game match up against Exeter, which should be one of Saturday's more entertaining game.


The Rest of the Pack

Sheffield are looking forward to putting some well-drilled work into practice this weekend. With height on their side, captain Zarah Dixon expresses her excitement for UWON. In comparison to last year’s UWOR, Sheffield have seen a few key players leave but I’m pleased to say that it gives the team scope for really pushing their players, particularly with Bath in their pool. Go and steal a top spot in Division 2!

The girls up at Huddersfield couldn’t sound more excited to be attending their first UWON as a team. With a relatively small squad attending the ladies are keen to push themselves and develop as a club for the upcoming years. Looking back at UWOR Huddersfield turned heads with fierce game against Sheffield and York, winning 7-1 and 8-4 respectively. Gaining powerhouse and NZ senior player Elly White has really added to their outdoor game, and I’m looking forward to see their finishing position this weekend – make your mark girls!

University of East Anglia Aye-Aye will be a bit of an unknown coming into this weekend. It was very sad not to see them enter Regionals, particularly after doing so well indoors this year. They qualified by beating a strong Oxford team, the same Oxford team who then went on to dominate Outdoor Regionals. Now, not wanting to miss out on the fun, the took up UKU's open offer for Nationals spots, and here they are. It looks as though captain Eve Holland's team may just be this year's dark horse.

Southampton Skunks lost 13 women at the start of this year, including such big players as Claire Baker (SYC, Reading, GB U24) and Celine Lim (Punt). As such, Skunks have done well to scrape qualification this year, beating Swansea in sudden death to claim the final qualification spot at Regionals. Though Skunks won't be pushing for a top finish this year, Captain Livvy Maxwell (Guildford) is excited to have another opportunity to develop talented freshers Beth Squires and Ann Lai. With the help of main handler Katie Allen (Reading, GB U24), Skunks are hoping to bring a good fight to Nationals, but are mainly focused on pushing higher up the ranking at next year's event.

York can be feeling confident this weekend, coming of the back of crushing their Roses Varsity opponents Lancaster last weekend (albeit indoors). While they might be seen more as underdogs this weekend, they certainly boast some fearsome players. Hannah Willet has been training with JR this season, Martine Ballinger has been training with the GB U24 development squad, and Ruth Haley has been constantly developing with teams like Curve. As such, this team is likely to have much more solid disc skills than their opponents would predict, and be looking to push any team they play.

After initially failing to qualify, Swansea are pleased to be given the opportunity to represent at Nationals. Expect to see handler Louise Sorensen-Bentham (Reading) running the Swansea horizontal offence, with some sweet grabs from Captain Immie Wong (Cardiff Storm) and great cutting from speedy Rosie Thompson. Swansea also have a great crop of talented freshers this year, who will benefit immensely from this Nationals experience, making Swansea a team to watch for years to come.

Left holding the baton for Scotland is Edinburgh 2. In nearly every other division, you may expect to see Scottish teams getting podium places. However, with Heriot-Watt dropping out and Strathclyde getting the nod to Division 1, it is difficult to see these girls doing the same. However, don't count them out yet, as co-captains Kristi Witemyre and Tris Sailer managed to see their side get points on every team at Regionals, and only narrowly lost 4-6 to Heriot. Expect a lot of heart, cheering, and sideline from the other Edinburgh Women's team.


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With the Easter break seeing many students go home, this weekend is sure to see some hot team reunions, particularly with both MT1 and 2 having passed, giving way to some killer Ultimate.  I’m certain there will be vast amounts of grit and rivalry between all the women competing.


#thisgirlcan

Brodie Whittington Interview (Nottingham)

The following is an interview with Brodie Whittington. He was captain of the Nottingham team who managed to win University Men’s Outdoor Nationals this year, winning in a thrilling final against Glasgow.


What’s your name?
Brodie Whittington

Any nicknames?
Some people thought my real name was my frisbee nickname.

And what’s your number?
53

How long have you been playing Ultimate?
8 Years

Did you start at University?
No, I was taught to throw at school but didn’t really play properly until uni.

What did you study?
Mechanical Engineering

What’s your favourite throw?
IO sidearm huck

How often do you make your team train a week?
Twice

Outdoors or Indoors?
Outdoors

Horizontal or Vertical Stack?
Vert

Zone or man D?
Zone

What (if any) club team/s do you play for?
Flyght Club

Have you ever represented your country?
No, but I’d love to.

Any interesting other pastimes/hobbies?
I scuba dive back home.


How did you start playing Ultimate? What convinced you to stay?
Back in 2008 my best friend convinced me to come to the after school activity which he had just started the week before. Some of the sixth formers played so I thought it must be cool, I played on and off for a couple of years but only really played 1 tournament with very few tactics. I almost didn’t play when I came to uni because I wanted to keep playing rugby, but after nearly breaking my neck 2 weeks before term I decided to get back into Ultimate, haven’t really looked back since. It was probably a good thing, I don’t exactly have the body for rugby.


Why did you decide to go for captain? What advice would you have for any new captains starting this year?
It seemed the natural progression of my Ultimate career. I had been a developers coach and then club coach in the years before.
Advice: You don’t have to be the hero and do it all yourself. That applies to off pitch stuff as well, get a good group of coaches and try to spread the load of organising a team. I was lucky to have a great club committee and coaching team supporting me and the team this year.


What was your hardest game/tensest moment qualifying for nationals?
Definitely the game against Oxford. They were up by 1, and we had to score an upwind to force UP. It took about 20 minutes, made even tenser that I wasn’t on and had to watch helplessly from the sideline, I definitely lost my voice on that point. The wind died a bit and Oxford almost instantly scored the upwind straight back.


What was your hardest game/tensest moment during nationals?
The build up to the UBU game.  Going up against the defending champions who had already beaten us earlier in the year was tough. I really had to rely on some of the more experienced players to help inspire the team before we even started, so a massive thanks to Ben, Liam, Tom and Welberry.


Describe how it felt to win nationals
Unreal, I was in a state of shock the entire evening and most of the next week. I was also exhausted, I fell asleep at about 10pm in the middle of the party.


What have you done with your medal/trophy?
The trophy spent the rest of the year in my living room in Nottingham, but I had to eventually give it to the uni so they could display it.
My medal has been hanging over my room but I got it back out for some photos at my graduation.


What were your opinions on the BUCS league?
For the established teams in the country I think it was great step towards better recognition from their University, which comes with it the benefit of more money and better training facilities. I think some of the smaller teams may have suffered as they struggled to regularly get a team together so preferred having a single weekend where they could all be free so probably had less game time than in previous years.
I enjoyed the more regular game time. Hopefully the women’s division will follow suit in the next few years. There was some discussion in our region about running a side tournament so that the travelling uni’s women’s team could come along too, so the women could have some warm up outdoor games before their regionals.  


How was it balancing all the different divisions and trainings (indoors, outdoors, mixed, etc.)?
Tough doesn’t begin to describe it. Another bit of advice to any new captains or club committee members, get a calendar and plan now. Giving the players enough notice was crucial but with three men’s team in the BUCS league and 5 indoor teams there was often last minute chasing up people each week.
It was a massive shame that Nottingham this year were unable to enter mixed outdoor nationals, but due to the date being outside of term time we couldn’t get the numbers.


What’s your relationship with your University Sports Office?
Much better now. I don’t know whether they enjoyed my weekly drop ins to let them know how things were going but in the end I’m sure they didn’t mind knowing that we were keeping on top of everything and giving them plenty of notice about everything.


How do you balance being a captain and a teammate?
Again it’s remembering that just because you’re a captain doesn’t mean you have to do it all. This was something I really struggled with at the beginning of the year, I tried to be on every point and make every play, which ended in me being exhausted and making a lot of turns. Once I stopped trying to do everything and focused on my role as part of the team it was much better for the team. Picking a team is difficult, but having to drop some of your best friends for the benefit of the team was crushing at times.

Andrew Potter Interview (Birmingham)

The following is an interview with Andrew Potter. He was captain of the Birmingham team (also known as uBu) of 2015/16, who managed to win University Men’s Indoor Nationals this year, as well as helping lead the Mixed team that won both Indoors and Outdoors for the third year running.

What’s your name?
Andrew Potter.

Any nicknames?
Potts.

And what’s your number?
39.

How long have you been playing Ultimate?
3 ½.

Did you start at University?
Competitively, yes. I had learnt how to throw the basics at sixth form.

What did you study?
Geography.

What’s your favourite throw?
Any that comes off.

How often do you make your team train a week?
That’s up to the coach. We usually train twice a week with the club and then have 1-2 extra as a team including early morning and weekends.

Outdoors or Indoors?
Indoors.

Horizontal or Vertical Stack?
Vertical.

Zone or man D?
Man.

What (if any) club team/s do you play for?
N/A.

Have you ever represented your country?
No.


How did you start playing Ultimate? What convinced you to stay?
Standard story. I had learnt the basics at school and when I went to university I decided to play Ultimate (alongside football at the time- mistake!). When I went into second year I dropped the football and decided to dedicate my time to Ultimate, I stayed because even though I knew the basics I had no idea there were so many structures, plays, defences, extra throws that I had no idea about. The club in general were also very welcoming and continue to accept beginners throughout the year to trainings. This environment was comfortable and enjoyable to play the sport.


Why did you decide to go for captain? What advice would you have for any new captains starting this year?
I didn't. I was approached by the coach in my final year who asked if i would like the responsibility. I had previously spent a successful year with some immensely talented players and had learnt a tremendous amount and was under an extremely good captain (Hodgett) who was also sticking around so I had extra presence.

My advice to new captains would be not to force yourself upon the team. Everyone knows why they are there and want to do well at the job in hand. There is not one captain on the pitch, but a team of captains, but at times your teammates may look for guidance. However the main thing is encouragement, keep your team playing til’ the very end and never give up, leave it all on the pitch heart and soul!


Was your coach playing or non-playing? What do you think are the differences between the role of a coach, and the role of a captain?
This year he was non-playing. The coach’s name was Alex Black, and he delegated drills out to other members to run in prep for next year. The coach is more to decide how the team are going to play and to put that across to the team but also to assess the team’s strength and weaknesses and work out how to play to that. The role of the captain is to be the voice to the coach and convey what the team think and then be the voice on the pitch


What was your hardest game/tensest moment qualifying for a national tournament?
Hardest Game: uBu vs Warwick (final BUCS league game 2016). Diagonal driving rain across the pitch made for horrendous conditions for both sides. We trailed for most of the game and made uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the team (costly drops, wrong options). It was a tough game to play and keep motivated for but we still had to win, especially in what was pretty much a derby. We never gave up, even though time was not on our side and we managed to edge into the lead and eventually take the game. It was a mentally tough game and afterwards as a team we were not happy with our performance and knew we needed to give a lot more when it came to nationals.  


What was your hardest game/tensest moment during a national tournament?
Universe Point vs Manchester- Indoor Men’s Nationals, Glasgow 2015. Never has there been an easy game between these two sides and it was fitting that, what could have easily been the final the year before, was this time. From what I can remember I think we traded down and possibly even lost a break but immediately hit back with a huge snatch from one of our younger players (Waldon) who showed great tenacity throughout the weekend, and leveled the score to bring on the Universe Point. Everyone wanted to be on the line fighting for the gold and the team and somehow the final 5 just ended up ready. We had the advantage being on O and we looked at our match ups to see if we could exploit any. We had one, and it was me! The point started and with our two experienced handlers (Hodgett and Burak) we worked up a third. I let the first cut go and then darted under, getting looked off before going deep to receive a hammer against two defenders. With that the game was won, it was such a tense point and the throw seemed to hang in the air, but we had kept calm and come through a tense Universe point in the final.


Describe how it felt to win nationals
Pure joy. All the months of training comes down to one weekend of Ultimate, and it pays off as you have beaten all the competition. In the moment you just feel so proud of your team and you are almost speechless. Throughout the game there are butterflies in your stomach and watching the time slip away, you eventually think “we are going to do this”. When it happens you just feel over the moon! Your body aches after the weekend of almost non-stop frisbee and it is all worth it when you take the journey home with the team and the trophy!


What have you done with your medals/trophies?
My medals are hung on the back of my door! It's better than coats.


What were your opinions on the BUCS league?
I enjoyed the new format of the BUCS league and enjoyed having the opportunity to be a weekly sport rather than the weekend tournaments continually as this stretched the season out and there were competitive games to improve upon all the time. It also provided another challenge in getting a squad together as some weeks a lot of players were unavailable, this broadened the depth of the squad. The BUCS league also allowed us to play in front of other people across the university as a way to promote Ultimate and increase recruitment. As a club, we were also able to field a 2nd team which also helped the club's quality improve with more game time and more people being available to assist and coach the sidelines. I believe the BUCS league was a big step for University Ultimate and had a rather successful first year, but as expected there were some teething issues and there is still a long way to go to establish the leagues.


How was it balancing all the different divisions and trainings (indoors, outdoors, mixed, etc.)?
Obviously there are a lot of divisions and therefore training needed to reflect that. The coach devised a plan throughout the year of what to work on, and when and also who would have the morning training session dependant upon need. It was down to the team to organise more training if they felt they required more than they were allocated.


What’s your relationship with your University Sports Office?
As a club, the committee dealt with the University Sports Office.


How do you balance being a captain and a teammate?
For me, they are one and the same. Whilst you have the role of captain, you are still a teammate, you are no more superior to the next player. If anyone wants to approach you about anything then I guess that's when you have to be the ears and decide what's best. However, being at a club like uBu, you are continually supported by everyone and it's the team effect that proves successful.

Chris Bamford Interview (UK Ultimate University Coordinator)

The following is an interview with Chris Bamford, the UKU University Coordinator, done in 2016. He is responsible for the administration of University Ultimate: overseeing the tournament allocation process for Regionals and Nationals, enforcing rostering rules, adjudicating any eligibility questions, and aiding the Regional development of Ultimate. He’ll be handing his position over to Tom Daly, but I still think many will find this interview interesting to learn what goes on with the role.



What’s your name?
Chris Bamford

Any nicknames?
Bamford

And what’s your number?
23

How long have you been playing Ultimate?
6 years

Did you start at University?
Yup, at Nottingham.

What did you study?
Masters in Maths and Sports Performance Analysis

What’s your favourite throw?
I/O flick

How often do you make your team train a week?
Less than I’d like

Outdoors or Indoors?
I’m under 6ft, so outdoors

Horizontal or Vertical Stack?
Split Stack

Zone or man D?
Man

What (if any) club team/s do you play for?
LLLeeds (captain)


Have you ever represented your country?
Nope


How did you start playing Ultimate? What convinced you to stay?
In my 2nd year of uni. Nathan Trickey dragged me to an internal beginners tournament. Competitive instinct kept me around, had to get better and couldn’t quit. Also was very keen on a girl I met in the club.


What was the proudest moment during your university career? (I know for a fact you do have prouder moments than bagelling Oxford in the game to go to Nationals.)
I’d actually forgotten that.

Winning Div 2 Open Nationals. We had a mad strong squad and made a complete mess of regionals to not qualify for Div 1. Smashing Div 2 and beating the Irish in the final in front of literally hundreds of people was great. The current Nottingham lot have ruined this memory for me a bit by winning Div 1 this year but all the same...


Why did you go for UKU University Coordinator?
Don’t know, ask Edd Carmichael, my predecessor. He was standing down and convinced me it’d be a great idea for me to run for it. 3 and a half years later here we are.


What are some big changes you’ve enacted in the role?
  • Regionals redraw
  • Moving the Indoors dates later in the calendar
  • Bringing in a comms officer
  • Running 2 University Development conferences
  • Taking Indoor Nationals to Scotland so we could have Men’s Div 1/2 and Women’s together
  • Women’s Indoors and Outdoors getting BUCS recognition (meaning the open division became a Men’s division as BUCS won’t allow people to compete in more than one division)
  • BUCS leagues introduction
Take your pick. Note I’m not saying all of the above was solely me!


What are some of the challenges involved in the role?
Getting the time to do it all, it’s basically a part time job. Our biggest struggle though is communication, as with other parts of UKU it’s something that we simply can’t prioritise enough. Making the event run smooth is more important that shouting about how great it is, but we are trying to improve communication, taking more feedback and encouraging people to get in touch with us more.

As we’re working with volunteers most of the time that’s pretty difficult to, obviously we’re all responsible for making sure it runs smoothly but we’ve got to respect people have lives and won’t always be able to drop stuff at a moment's notice to get stuff done for us.

Dealing with flak used to bother me a bit, less so now but I have copped it on facebook a few times from certain individuals!

(editors note: This is actually something we’d like to highlight. Feedback from tournaments is great, but everytime you moan about something publically, please be aware it is another person you are moaning at! Most work in UKU is done by volunteers. It’s nice to apply spirit of the game on Facebook too…)


What is it like working with Si Hill?
A pleasure. Benji less so….


What is some advice you would give to anyone wanting to get involved in Ultimate, beyond just playing?
Come and speak to us! I’m on about 20 different subcommittees and we can always do with more people to help us out. Drop me/Si/Benji/Liam a line and tell us where your area of interest lies and we’ll see where we can get you involved, there are opportunities to do all sorts.

It’s not just UKU who can advise, if you are looking to do local work on Ultimate there are plenty of good examples around, think Bristol, Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester and Reading to start with (sorry to any major cities I’ve missed out there). Speak to the people involved with them and invariably they are willing to pass on advice and tips from their experiences.


Finally, if you could give everyone taking over admin for a university team some advice that would make both their and your lives easier, what would it be?
Can I give a few? The job I’ve just left was working as a club development officer at the University of Hull so doing precisely this! I’ll stick to 2 bits.

1 - Do a budget! - Seriously just do it, it isn’t that hard to forecast your incoming and outgoing as a club, most clubs will even have a maths/business/accounting student in the club.

2 - Assign the club email account to one person. So many times I’ve had issues with people not seeing emails as they have been “read” by someone else on committee. And while we’re on emails pass on the flipping passwords each year. Oh and on passing stuff on you should have a handover document explaining what needs doing in your role. Best way to put it together is by keeping a log of what you do in the role throughout the year, including contact details of people you work with. Sorry I’ll stop now.

Emma Klima (Birmingham) Interview

The following is an interview with Emma Klima. She was women’s co-captain (with an injured Jess Cowley) at Birmingham in 2015-16. She helped lead the team that won Indoors and Outdoors for Women’s and Mixed.


What’s your name?
Emma Klima

Any nicknames?
No, although Hayd would claim Trout.

And what’s your number?
8

How long have you been playing Ultimate?
About 8.5 years

Did you start at University?
No

What do you study?
Chemistry

What’s your favourite throw?
Hammer

How often do you make your team train a week?
2-3 sessions

Outdoors or Indoors?
Outdoors

Horizontal or Vertical Stack?
Vert

Zone or man D?
Man

What (if any) club team/s do you play for?
This year I played for Hydra, St Albans Mixed, and also went to the European Club Championships with Reading Mixed last October.

Have you ever represented your country?
Yes, i played two years of GB U20 Women and last year played GB Mixed U23 in London.



How did you start playing Ultimate? What convinced you to stay?
I started at school at the end of year seven as a teacher (Jack Rushton) played at university and started a team. My friend asked me to play one lunchtime, and at the time i was scared of her so didn’t want so say no… Turns out i really enjoyed it.


Why did you decide to go for captain? What advice would you have for any new captains starting this year?
I was asked to be captain at the end of first year. To be honest the team make it a really easy job, our team has a lot of knowledge and experience so everyone makes suggestions. I was just excited to be part of a team with such a good depth of players. I think new captains need to remember to listen to their teammates, just because you’re captain it doesn’t mean you know everything and in lots of situations someone else on the team is better placed to know what they’re talking about!


What was it like being a co-captain? Was it useful to have a non-playing  perspective during tournaments?
Yes, although we were gutted that Jess got injured early on in the season it was really useful to have her on the sideline, she has a lot of knowledge tactically and when you’re on the pitch you can get caught up in the game and not make the best decisions. She helped us out a lot suggesting adaptations mid game and mixing up our tactics.


How was it balancing all the different divisions and trainings (indoors, outdoors, mixed, etc.)?
As a club I think we do fairly well making sure we balance trainings. Generally for the two weeks before a tournament the team that’s playing will train together. So for example before Mixed Indoors the mixed first team had the indoor training slots for the weeks leading up to nationals. Generally our training sessions are fairly integrated though, with some extra training for the first teams.


What was your scariest moment in qualifying?
We took a fairly inexperienced team to Women’s Outdoor Regionals, and when we turned up it was classically wet and windy. Before we started playing I was concerned we might not qualify at all, but the freshers stepped up, played really well, and after the first game i knew we could do it.


Which nationals victory are you most proud of?
I’m not sure I could pick, part of me says Women’s Indoors, because really we’re a team of outdoor players and had to make a lot of adaptations to play indoors. But i think Women’s Outdoors was probably my proudest, we had a really great weekend. It felt like the freshers we took really integrated with the team, despite me deciding to teach them a new zone the day before!


How many nationals trophies do you now have?
Currently we’ve won both Mixed and Women’s Indoors and Outdoors, and the boys also won Indoors.


What have you done with all of them?
I couldn’t possibly comment...


Is it still exciting to win nationals?
Of course, every game is different and you never go into a tournament expecting to win. Obviously it’s very satisfying to go and play, work hard as a team and come back with a trophy, I don’t think that’s something that gets boring.


You're someone who has won trophies in both women's and mixed at uni level, and also represented your country at both. What do you view as the main difference when you play?

I think the main difference between mixed and women’s is the speed, the game is much quicker and often much more physical. I think those same differences are reflected in the difference between uni and international level too. Obviously uni teams train, but when you play at an international level you’re playing against people who have been training for months, not only skills and tactics but also fitness and strength and conditioning. That again ups the intensity and physicality of the game.

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