I played Ultimate once before with some friends. From what I remember I could not throw the disc straight, which caused some problems once I was able to catch it. Before today though, I had never seen people that actually knew what they were doing play Ultimate.
Junior Dung Nguyen is the President of the Bettys, KU’s women’s Ultimate team. This afternoon, at the Shenk Sports Complex she explained the game and told me about the team in between practice drills.
The Bettys just finished a tournament in Manhatten, where they finished in second place. This weekend they will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. where they will compete in a Halloween tournament with 75 other college teams from around the Midwest. Each team will wear costumes during the games of their own chosen theme. The Bettys were still deciding what their costumes would be.
The Betty’s share a practice field with the HorrorZontals, KU’s men’s Ultimate team. The teams usually travel to the same tournaments, as they will for the Arkansas tournament.
This is one of the less serious tournaments that they will play this season Nguyen said, which explains why the team was voting on whether to wear doctor or cave woman costumes among others for the game.
Nguyen also explained some details of Ultimate. She says it is most like soccer, but it is played with end-zones like football.
There are actually positions in Ultimate too. The most skilled players with the disc usually play on of the three handler positions, they do most of the throwing. There are 4 players known as the cutters who run down field to get open for the throw.
The Bettys have less players this year than last, Nguyen said. She was a soccer player in high school then at freshmen orientation she talked to the Bettys. She had never played Ultimate before her freshman year.
What she likes about playing for Ultimate at Kansas the people she plays with and being part of a team.
Max Goodwin: The women’s basketball team at Kansas had not been to the NCAA tournament in twelve years when they went on a run to the sweet sixteen last season. The Jayhawks return all but one player from that team. Forward Chelsea Gardner discussed that success.
Chelsea Gardner: No, I don’t think so. I think we’re just coming back and working hard and being one team.
Max Goodwin: Senior point guard Angel Goodrich said it is the expectations that have changed after last year’s sweet sixteen run.
Angel Goodrich: Making it there and how we got there, you expect higher, you don’t want to expect lower and that’s just getting better every day, not taking steps back, always taking steps forward.
Max Goodwin: Goodrich led the Jayhawks on their tournament run last season. She said the team is learning from that experience.
Goodrich: As far as the things we struggled with in the tournament, that kind of helps. It helps you see where you were weak at. Then it helps you come here and work on those things and get better and improve. One of those things was defense, containing one-on-one, so that’s right now our goal, getting better on defense.
Max Goodwin: A key to this season will be the recovery of senior forward Carolyn Davis. Davis underwent surgery on the torn ACL she suffered against Kansas State in February.
Carolyn Davis: I’ve been in drills, I’ve been running up and down, I’ve been doing things that I haven’t done in six months. It’s kind of making me feel like I can do this, I can play basketball again. But those doubts you have are that you’re never going to be the same player and I feel that I can be that player.
Max Goodwin: Angel Goodrich says Davis has talked about wanting to get back on the court.
Angel Goodrich: Oh, she’s said a lot. She was there with us. You can tell how much she wants to be out there on the court.
Max Goodwin: Just one thing was bothering coach Bonnie Henrickson on media day.
A reporter: Coach, good news is you’ve got a lot talent back, bad news I guess is so does Baylor.
Bonnie Henrickson: Laughs. You’re just no fun. You just had to go there didn’t you.
Max Goodwin: Baylor returns intact from their undefeated season that they ended with a national championship. Any Big 12 team will have a hard time taking the league title away from Brittany Griner and the Baylor Bears.
Even as she sits down after a long cross country practice, freshman distance runner Hannah Richardson does not appear to be relaxed.
Her hands reach for her sleeves as she talks about her first race as a Jayhawk. She sits back, then leans forward, then back again. It could be that the interview has the freshman feeling nervous, but her honest and levelheaded answers seem to indicate that is not the case. It’s more like she still has too much energy to sit still. Maybe Richardson has just forgotten how to relax?
“Honestly, I feel like I have zero free time,” Richardson says.
A 5:45 a.m. practice in August was Richardson’s introduction to the lifestyle of a student-athlete and she has mostly been busy since. After a morning run she goes to class, after class she has time to do her homework. When class is over and homework is finished it’s time for afternoon practice and by the time that is done she is sitting here giving this interview, then off to do some studying before bedtime.
A stressful balance of time between academic life and athletic life is required to be a student-athlete. That stress can often impact the health of the individual. Many studies have shown that athletes are often more affected by stress than most people because of the pressure to succeed, both in academics and sports.
Senior team captain Kathleen Thompson says that it took her three years to get used to the schedule of being a student-athlete. Her major is engineering and she is forced to miss three afternoon practices a week for her studies, instead she has to run alone and schedule workouts when she can.
“It really just comes down to time management, and having the energy to get through all of it.” Thompson says.
The key to having that energy is basic nutrition, which is also essential to preventing injuries. Thompson says that about 80 percent of her diet consists of carbohydrates, she also drinks a lot of milk to ensure that she gets calcium. Assistant coach Michael Whittlesey says that protein is an important aspect of a balanced diet that many distance runners undervalue.
Nutrition is just one part of Whittlesey’s training philosophy. He holds a doctorate from the University of Connecticut in philosophy of sports science/exercise physiology, which he says has helped him develop his training philosophy. It involves building strength through the season, leading up to the outdoor track season.
Whittlesey’s philosophy on coaching is that it is an art and a science. The science is in his education and training philosophy, the art he says is in knowing how to push his athletes and when to back off. He looks at the athlete as a whole and understands what they need to be healthy and succeed. Academics are a part of that, Kansas runners say that Whittlesey emphasizes that they are student-athletes.
“I think he expects us to give 100 percent in every part of our life, whether it’s academics or nutrition or even just getting enough sleep because all of that is going to help us be a better athlete.” Richardson says.