Thursday, October 22, 2009

Talking with Trainor: Who is PsychoPlastique?


Every year, Canadian Ultimate wonders when the city of Edmonton's ultimate program will have a breakthrough. We thought it might happen in 2005 with the play of Open team EMU at nationals. We thought Team Alberta's strong play at CUC 2007 was a strong indicator that the women's team would lead the way. These were all false starts for an Edmonton breakthrough (a larger Canadian city that should be a more prominent at the national level). We were disappointed when CUPA gave Edmonton CUUC 2008 and did not see any of their teams make it to CUUC 2009.

It's official- we finally have a breakthrough in Edmonton. Mixed team Psychoplastique.

Psychoplastique is not new. They finished 3rd at CUC 2007, and were a team to watch at CUC 2008. However, the team has accomplished a very tough feat recently, beating out many Northwest region opponents to capture a bid to UPA 2009 Finals in Florida. Not only is this rare for a team out of Alberta, it has not been done by a Canadian mixed squad this decade.

I interviewed team captains Jenn Nichols, Seb Toth and
Patrick MacQuarrie to find out more about the team and their expecatations as they embark for their first UPA championship.

Best of luck in Sarasota!!
How did the team take shape? What have been the keys to success in developing?

Although th
e name Psychoplastique has been around for a while, it was only last year that we started to adhere in an organized fashion and travel to competitive tournaments to gain experience and increased exposure to higher level Ultimate. Edmonton struggles with maintaining numbers in the competitive touring scene, so a mixed team formed as we could not support a competitive separate open and women's team.
Last year, the team had a very similar core to this year, but our systems and values were not as developed. We had a good nationals, apart from our semifinal loss to TFP, and then sent a skeleton squad (almost entirely younger players) to UPAs, and finished middle of the pack at regionals.

This year, Jenn Nicholls (Flycoons and TFP last year, making her a defending UPA and world champion) moved into a captain's role (along with Seb Toth - Furious last year) and really began to push to make this team competitive . We went to Philadelphia to play the Philly invite, and played well enough to beat a couple teams that made UPA nats last year. We had losses to AMP and Slow White, but gained a lot of experience getting to play these top teams. At Potlatch, we lost games to both Mischief and DropCop, but our top powerpool finish helped players to believe that this team had the talent to compete at a high level.

Canadian Nats was a huge let-down for us. For a variety of reasons, we just didn't bring our A game. Perhaps we got a little to comfortable with our Potlatch and Philly experience, but we didn't come into Canadian Nationals with the right attitude, and we paid the price. It was a great wake-up call for UPAs , however, as we addressed a number of issues . Practice and training intensity increased, focused roles developed a little more, and talent was brought in to fill roles that were needed.

How was the sectionals and regionals experience?

Sectionals had a couple tough losses for us. We were up a break on both Flycoons and Spike early, and then collapsed after half. We decided, before regionals, that it was important to keep the energy in games, especially on D, and that started with sideline support. One comment that stuck with me was "our sideline should pump up our D line, not the other way around."

At Regionals, the cards fell into place for us. The weather was bad, but not awful. There was rain, snow and wind, but nothing compared to playing in the swamps at Canadian Nats. The elevation was an issue on the first day, but we adjusted quickly. Although, upsets in the other side of the bracket worked in our favour, we ran hard when we needed to and got our job done.

The Saturday went as expected, as we went 3-1 with a loss to Flycoons. We played Spike on the Saturday morning, and were down 3-2, with no breaks yet, when there was a long delay due to lightning. We came out focused and cohesive, and our D line rose up to take that game 8-4.

In our first chance at a "game to go", against D'oh, we came out flat and never figured out their poaching D systems. Our next game was against Night Train, who had just beaten Mischief in a nail-biter, and seemed to have burned all their energy . We led throughout that game to a 13-3 win. The next chance in a game to go was against CTR. We targeted our D on stopping their break force throws, and took half 7-3. Each team broke early in the 2nd half, and then we traded out before breaking again to win 13-9.

I can honestly say that no one on the team expected us to make it this far, but we feel like we deserve the opportunity, and we hope to be playing meaningful games on Saturday in Sarasota. The northwest is a strong region, and we feel like we can compete near the top.

How is the team preparing for UPA Finals?

We are preparing for the tournament by pushing fitness training and player connections over the next two weeks. We just had our first snowfall, and, combined with limited day-light hours, and limited numbers to practice against, our scrimmages will likely be few and short.

How would you describe your team style of play? Who are the key players on offence and defence?

If you ask almost anyone we have played, they will tell you that we like to huck to both our men and women, and that we are very physical on defense. It is difficult for me to pick out 'key' players, but, if I had to try, on offense it would be Brendan Wong and Jenn Nicholls, while defensively, Seb Toth and Terri Whitehead usually draw the tough matchups.

What's the current state of Edmonton ultimate? Growth?

Edmonton ultimate is still struggling to achieve a high number of competitive players. While there is a healthy city league (, we struggle to maintain numbers throughout a full season and at Psycho practice. We hope that this exposure in Sarasota will help with growth in the competitive scene, as well as coaching and mentoring skills that can be brought back to our university and city teams.


Meghan said...

What about the pick-ups from Winnipeg? This team is nothing without them! Scott "Raw" Warwaruk is the only reason why this team is going to Sarasota.

Big Smooth said...

Good job by PsychoP on representing Canada at UPAs. Not sure a co-ed team "from" Edmonton with pick-ups from all over the place qualifies as an Edmonton breakthrough in the ultimate scene, but good on them either way.

Andrew said...

they only have pickups from Vancover, Calgary, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montana and Seattle. over half the team is still Edmonton based.