(Ed. Note – We did go to South Carolina. We do believe that USC has the most charming, best looking and overall awesomest Ultimate program that has ever graced the face of the planet. That being said, we will now carry on with our completely unbiased team preview.)
As interesting as Nationals level teams are, the fact of the matter is, most teams that compete in the UPA Series are not Nationals caliber teams. In fact, just over 20 teams make it to Nationals every year out of the, literally, hundreds that compete in Sectionals. The struggles, challenges and everyday life that goes along with being one of those teams that isn’t basking in the limelight of the sport at the end of May are rarely told. Historically at South Carolina, Ultimate hasn’t necessarily been about winning Nationals. It’s more about the constant improvement of oneself and the goal of competing at the highest level that one can compete at.
However, South Carolina captain, senior Kevin Anderson, is ready to change that tune just a little. The Gamecocks haven’t made it out of their section in three years and Anderson believes this year is the year for USC to make some noise.
“Our team has been improving steadily for years, but we have yet to reach our potential when the College Series rolls around,” Anderson wrote us in an e-mail. “This season, our talent level is as high as ever and we are determined to keep our team healthy and peak at the end of the season.”
His theory certainly has some repute seeing as the Gamecocks placed second at the Southerns Classic on October 24th and 25th. South Carolina sent a team of five veterans and 6 rookies to compete with other tryout teams, four of which were teams that appeared at AC Regionals last spring.
South Carolina has a lot in common with many large schools whose Ultimate programs have seen moderate success, the team is mostly about its athleticism from top to bottom. While smaller schools that are more successful learn the technicalities of Ultimate, Carolina focuses on winning every matchup on the field athletically.
“We depend on speed on both sides of the disc,” Anderson wrote. “We mostly play man defense and depend on our athleticism to shut people down. On offense we again use our speed to get open, throwing to space deep or continuing underneath.”
Some of the athletes that South Carolina rides are Anderson and his co-captain senior Will Carmichael, a shutdown defender and quick cutter. Anderson believes that this year will mark the coming out party for sophomore Chuck Turner, a tall receiver and junior Marshall Walker, a speedy cutter and strong defender.
Anderson recognizes that there are steps to becoming a Nationals level team, steps that USC has yet to take. However, one of the first steps is becoming that regularly competes in the Region and Anderson believes that his team is ready to take that step.
“Our team has underachieved for each of the last three years in the Series,” Anderson wrote. “We’ve been plagued by injuries but this year our team is primed for a great performance in March and April. Our commitment level is greater than before and our talent is continuing to grow. We are not quite a Nationals level team but with a good performance late in the year, we could compete on Sunday at Regionals. That is our goal.”
There certainly are many steps that South Carolina has yet to take, however, whether or not the team will be able to accomplish its goal this year will meet its first measuring stick as the Gamecocks play in their first CCC on December 5th and 6th.