A short look at Texas’ history page will leave one wondering what happened to TUFF in 2010. Did the team disband? As far as the results are concerned, the team might as well have. After winning USAU South Regionals for five straight years, UT didn’t even make it to Nationals in 2010. It all started at CCC 2009, where TUFF began Saturday 0-3.
The team went on to have what can easily be described as its most disappointing year in anyone’s recent memory. While being the only group of TUFF players to not go to Nationals since 2004 would typically be an extremely draining experience. UT’s squad kept the faith and knew that last season was a learning experience.
“While no one likes losing, I don’t think that the process of rebuilding wore on the team because the team had faith in their abilities and in the team’s leadership,” TUFF coach Calvin Lin wrote to us. “While we’ve lost some key players from last year, we’ll be sending a more experienced team to CCC this year, so we’re hoping for a few more wins this year.”
Where does that faith come from though. Amidst the losingest season in six years, how to new and experienced players keep plowing away, knowing that their season will essentially be lost to the TUFF record books in comparison to Semi or Quarterfinal finishes in 4 out of last 5 seasons? It’s easy, the Texas Ultimate Frisbee Friends knew something that everyone else didn’t.
“I think that most people didn’t realize how talented our team was last year,” Lin wrote. “Because of our inexperience and because of a slew of injuries to almost all of our most experienced players, we didn’t really put everything together until Regionals. In fact, we still had some key players hurt at Regionals, and I really felt that if we had made it out of regionals, we would have surprised some people at Nationals.”
Of course, there were some people that noticed the talent on Texas’ roster. TUFF boasts both of the reigning Freshman of the Year players, Will Driscoll and Chris Brooks. Though Brooks is sitting out the fall with a torn ACL, Lin is confident that several players from Texas will be impressing spectators and opponents alike this weekend.
“Will Driscoll, has really improved after playing with Doublewide this fall,” Lin wrote. “Our two captains, Ben Hamilton and Andrew Klotz, will probably surprise people the most at CCC, just because most people outside of our team don’t who they are.”
Other than fresh faces, Texas will not be doing anything that surprises anyone this season. The team has well-known dedication to the vertical stack and Lin doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. TUFF will depend on its athleticism and tenacity to generate blocks in a hard man-to-man defense. Both of those qualities can be well observed from this video, a recap of Texas’ matchup with Wisconsin at 2009 Nationals.
TUFF has a tough road ahead of it. Texas has drawn a pool play matchup with Georgia Tech, the team that all of the brightest minds in Ultimate is picking to win the tournament. To say the least, this weekend will be a good measurement of whether or not TUFF’s dedication to its program and leadership was well placed or if last season was just the beginning of a dangerous downward spiral.