Friday, April 25, 2008

Talking with Trainor: Anne Mercier / Ottawa Gee Gee's Women's Ultimate


As I said before, we need to devote more attention to the women's game on this blog. No two teams are more deserving at this time than the UBC Thundbirds and the Ottawa Gee Gees, both looking to make it to the UPA College Regionals this spring.

Hammer Time at Vegas 08

Anne Mercier took the time to quickly interview with me before she and her teammates head out to regionals. Mercier, one of the best players in the college game and a UPA club game breaker, will look to help lead her talented squad right to the finals.

Best of luck to the lady Gee Gee's!
What was the Vegas tournament like? How does it compare to other victories?

Vegas was awesome. A fun city that no one has ever visited before. It was sweet to have a different ultimate venue compared to what we were used to at home (in a gym or in the snow).

The competition was great. I think the Sunday was the best - playing UW in the quarters, Wisconsin in the semis and UCLA in the finals. It's great to see college women's ultimate at a high level. It made us realize that there were many teams who are really skilled and it was a good to see some west coast teams too.

The victory was awesome. Don't know how I'd 'rate' them against other victories but it's definitely up there. Winning the 3-day tournament with 12 girls was huge and I'm sure everyone who was there will remember it for a very long time.

How were Sectionals? Despite the weather problems, did the team take anything out of the experience?

Sectionals was good. Despite running in foot-sinking ankle-high mud fields, we're happy with the results. We were able to iron out a few more kinks in our game, and it was great to be playing outside again!

How do you feel heading into Regionals? What teams do you prepare for?

I think I speak for the whole team when I say that I'm completely stoked for the weekend. We didn't have the chance last year to attend, and any/every accomplishment will be a new one for this relatively young team.

We haven't seen much in-region competition, but based on this season's results I'd say that Maryland, Pittsburgh and NYU are the teams that we'd have to look out for. They have solid programs and I would expect to get some good games during the wknd against these teams. However, we still can't rule out the rest of the pack; a good number of teams have some great talent and could give us a run for our money (proved by Cornell's 3 point run in our sectionals final near the end of the game).

Does the narrow window of opportunity in college scare your team, given you are a favoured women's team this year?

Favoured or not - doesn't really matter. All we need to know is that there are 2 spots to go to Nationals. We have to work hard to get one of those two spots. I don't think we're scared. More-so we want to rise up to the challenge.

How do you prepare for good teams you have yet to play?

Most of the work has already been done - at practice, training and trowing on our own time etc. We go back to the basics no matter who we face and play to the level that we can play. We're going to play against many good teams that we've never met before over the next few weeks. Smart matchups will help, but if we stick to what we know and just play our game, hopefully everything will be okay. One point at a time.

Which players are expected to lead this year? Have there been any pleasant performance surprises?

I think in college it falls down to the same people on all teams: those who are confident enough to lead. That normally comes down to the comp (club) players. But in all honesty, so many people on the team have already stepped it up this year. Even though it's in different ways, every person has found their role on the team and does a superb job of doing what the team needs them to do.

Who have been the toughest opponents thus far in the spring series? (Vegas tourney included)

So far, I'd say that we had our best competition in Vegas - mainly during the Sunday games. Our toughest game was against Wisconsin. They have a really deep team, an all around athletic roster, and many big-game players that are very capable of taking over games. This was a while ago so I'd assume that they've only gotten better.

Do you think a UBC-Ottawa UPA college final is possible?

Hell yes.

It's possible, but there's still a lot between now and May 18th. It's going to take a lot of work and there will be 20+ teams that would like to have a say on that. We'll see with regionals first, then think about Nationals (hopefully).

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