It’s hard to imagine that a team that is the reigning two-time region champion would spend a season living in the shadow of another team in that same region. However, such has been life for Austin, Texas’ Doublewide this season. Atlanta, Georgia’s Chain Lightning has been lauded and heralded as a potential Finalist in Sarasota this season and it seems that Doublewide has fallen by the wayside, despite Doublewide’s title holding position.
Perhaps it’s because Chain performed admirably at the biggest tournament of the preseason, Seattle’s Emerald City Classic, despite some incredible team drama (of the car accident variety) and won arguably the second biggest tournament of the preseason, The Chesapeake Open. Perhaps it’s because Doublewide has seen three tournament finals thus far this season and not come away with a single victory. Whatever the reason, Doublewide captain Max Cook is not concerned with perception.
“Obviously getting to three preseaon tournament finals and not winning any of them is a bummer,” Cook wrote in an e-mail. “However, the season is long and the team has grown and learned from those losses. Historically Doublewide has not made elite tournament finals in the past, so navigating those tournaments with undefeated records against elite ultimate teams (CoCup and Labor Day at least) before losing in the finals is a good and necessary first step for this team.”
Cook, like most elite level Ultimate players, understands that the preseason is just that, the preseason. For a team like Doublewide, games have only just recently started to matter. Everything up until this point is only a question of how to work out the kinks.
“We have positioned ourselves really well to get a good seed (assuming we qualify) going into nationals,” Cook wrote. “With the personnel and work that the team has put into the season to date, I would say that we have performed to our expectations.”
Now is where things will start to get interesting for Cook and his teammates though. After storming through Texas sectionals with an undefeated record and a combined score of 82-15 an almost inevitable Regional finals against Chain looms in the distance and, although Doublewide will sorely be missing the presence of former captain Scott Berens, Cook believes that his team has the personnel to match up with the favorites from Atlanta.
Among those players that Doublewide will be depending on for a strong performance next weekend are the speedy Kiran Thomas who, according to Cook, “does a great job of finishing plays for Doublewide,” and Callahan nominee Stephen Presley on defense. Presley has made a name for himself not only as a leader at the University of Texas but also as great man defender and a nearly unstoppable force once he and his fellow D-liners force the turn.
One of the new faces to Doublewide who Cook expects to have a huge showing in Atlanta is Jake Anderson. A fresh face to Doublewide, Anderson hails from the University of North Texas and his 6’4″ frame quickly earned him the nickname Strides. A nickname that fits almost as aptly as his other nickname, The Mouth. Cook is excited about the role that Anderson should play when the Chain/Doublewide matchup inevitably rolls around.
“(Anderson) is tall, fast, has long arms, and will shit talk you all day long,” Cook wrote. “It will be exciting to watch him match-up against Chain’s tall and athletic receivers, as Jake will give you under cuts all day long, but takes it personal when you try to take him deep. Should be some good aerial battles”
Another key addition to Doublewide’s roster that won’t have a tangible affect on the field is another Callahan nominee Kurt Gibson. Gibson comes to Austin by way of Gainesville, Florida where he led the Gators to a national title in 2006. After reading a MatchDiesel profile on Gibson, few would question his strength away from frisbee but Cook can personally testify to Gibson’s affect on the team.
“On the field, when 100% healthy, Kurt is probably one of the top 5 players in the country, so that is always nice to have,” Cook wrote. “On the sideline, Kurt is constantly analyzing the game: trying to figure out how to beat the other teams zone, or how to disrupt the other teams offensive flow. As a captain, it is great to have someone with ideas on how to gain competitive advantages over our opponents. Winning is a habit and winning is also contagious, and I think Kurt’s winning attitude/swagger has had some positive effects on the team.”
The field of contenders and pretenders will be greatly narrowed this weekend. Regional action will take place all over the nation and in many regions, such as the South, it may be near a forgone conclusion about which teams are moving on and which teams are going home. That doesn’t change things for Doublewide though, this team, thanks to it’s new additions and winning attitude, is focused on one thing and one thing only.
”Winning regionals has been a goal this whole season, so yes, the team would be disappointed with not coming away with a championship,” Cook wrote.