Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Work Ethic of Wisconsin Ultimate…

…is at an all time high. And this statement currently extends to all facets of the program.

Whatever you believe about the cycles of rest and recovery – Wisconsin has decimated through disregard.
In Madison, the only caliber for a successful workout is threshold of physical pain and how well one can push through that discomfort.
Last night was the fourth straight day of complete cardio and leg strength failure. Hitting the snooze button and falling out of bed was never so much fun.
Besides for the intrinsic fitness benefits (and setbacks) – the goal is to mentally “win” the workout.
Not to finish, but to win workouts that on average rated a 9/10 by 25 of the hardest dudes you see walking to class.
But the Hodags are not the only squad pushing. Bella Donna’s workout google-doc is getting lengthier by the day. Without fail, each player signs in to account for the work they put into the season, and every day the list grows. Last night for example, I saw the Pimpdags doing a running and agility workout. The Hodags were killing a long set of plyos and tabatas, while Bella Donna was running sprint intervals and lifting weights. Atropa girls were also seen on the track and in the weight room – putting the total number of ultimate players in the Shell at approximately 75 with the 4 teams combined. And that was just last night.
But that’s really the only alternative. Besides for once a week indoor practice for 2 hours, beginning maybe a week or two before the first big tournaments of the season; Wisconsin has no other way to prepare. It speaks volumes to the commitment level each player has individually invested into the season and the program. No other school has 80 college students busting their ass every single day of the week for the mere enjoyment and excitement of chasing a piece of plastic. But that’s the best part; it’s fun, it creates lifelong friendships, and it prepares an individual for future obstacles. Unlike most ultimate teams – Wisconsin has matured into a mentoring program. Your buddy not only runs sprints and lifts with you, but teaches and guides you. He is the second opinion, who has already experienced your struggle. Wisconsin’s success comes from the fact that being a part of the team is so much more than an athletic endeavor. It is an experience, a guiding force which teaches an individual to balance their time, activities, money, and life. It teaches a work ethic, a competitive drive, and the ability to succeed. When you have finished your time with the Hodags – you are a man’s man.
For all the glamor of being able to play ultimate outside year long – Wisconsin fights with discipline and delayed gratification. No one wants to sprint on the track, jump over hurdles, and touch backboards until they want to puke – but Madison player’s consistently do these activities with the final goal in mind.
Three days ago the Spring Season officially began as almost every player had fully returned from winter vacation. The first short 6 minutes of complete suffering was exactly to the point. But it was the post-running talk that seized my attention. Captain Matt Young began to speak of his goals for the team and his expectations from his teammates. He cemented the first building blocks of something great and took strides to imprinting the importance of this season on the 27 eager faces around him. Matt Young also spoke of his personal sacrifice to the team. As a medical student – Matt must complete several month long rotations as part of his school, which means Crumb is driving many hours on the road just to make it to Hodag functions. Soon I realized that Matt was not talking of sacrifices, but of opportunities. “Every day I drive to practice, I have to pass Breese Steven’s Stadium. That is four times a day I pass it, and every time I get so jacked up thinking that this is the location of National Finals.” In the loud and crowded Shell, I still felt the shiver of excitement roll through the tightly packed group of eager young men. I’m two years removed and even my heart quickened at that thought.
Then Jon Masler took front and center, making his first introduction to the 2010 team. Having been in Israel for the last 5 months, Jon had been waiting and stewing in the thoughts of his 5th year. With enthusiasm to spare, Masler stated his heart-felt commitment to the team and proved it with a quick flash of his freshly marked Hodag tattoo. The group hooted in approval as the first indoor Hodag Love roared and echoed throughout the Shell.
Wisconsin will have legs to spare this season and will most likely push another team's top player into total failure. Late in a hot tournament, he will bend over and put heat exhaustion in a big pile on the field. And the reason will be none other than the tenacity of the Hodags. Wisconsin will sprint you into the ground this season by throwing the fastest, most gritty, eager blanket defenders on you again and again.