They are on the lacrosse field everyday after school, the Quad or maybe even at Jordan Middle School on some days, but the Palo Alto Ultimate Frisbee team, otherwise known as the Huck Squad, believes that its continuous practices, drills and pick-up games, have prepared them well for the upcoming Spaghetti Western Tournament on April 26 and 27 at Morgan Hill, CA and USA Ultimate California States Championships on May 10th and 11th at Templeton, Calif.
Although the team lost several key players from last year like Alvin Kim, Allen Zheng and Kevin Lavelle, it adopted new members such as senior Audrey Horn, sophomore Michelle Slaughter, freshman Max Lenail and Coach Robert Srinivasiah. The new members were quick to adapt to the fast-paced games and drills and soon became valuable additions to the team.
In preparation for the Spaghetti Western tournaments, the team has already met several of its competitors from Spring League games, matches in which local Bay Area teams meet each weekend to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee, and has familiarized itself with several of the teams’ scrimmage techniques.
“The games have taught us how to play with each other better, and how to better prepare ourselves for situations in which we are under a lot of pressure,” Horn said.
Senior Jeremy Dao, who has been on the team since last year, agrees with Horn’s statement.
“The key thing is experience,” Dao said. “Because we have a lot of new players on the team, [Spaghetti Western] helps us focus our minds into a more game-like situation rather than just have us mess around.“
In addition to the team’s preparation, the team has adopted a student-to-student coaching method in which the more experienced players who have played on the team since last year, teach and help improve new techniques that can enhance the player’s Frisbee skills. Moreover, after playing against several different teams in the Spring League, the team has been able to focus more on its strengths and weaknesses, what techniques work in a game-like situation and who would be the catchers and throwers for the present game. For example, in its game against the Berkeley team, Huck Squad realized that its defense may be strong, but its offense is not keen enough to help them obtain the necessary points to win certain matches.
“There is a new defensive technique called ‘The Squeeze,’ in which its a defensive play where one person cuts off any throws from the back from the person with the frisbee and someone else moves forward to cut off a lane from the front,” senior Kevin Zhang said.
The team utilizes its space on the lacrosse field for quick games while it uses the field at Jordan for more serious drills. During their time at Jordan, coaches Chris Farina and Robert Srinivasiah help the members enhance their throwing techniques, interventions and team operations and will also sometimes play along with the team to help them see how a professional team would play.
Although the Spaghetti Westerns is a bigger tournament than the state tournament, the team is focusing more on improving its ranks and hopefully winning the tournament at states. The states tournament is regional, which means that the tournament hosts teams from local areas rather than from different states. The team members unanimously agree that their continuous hard work and practice time will help them improve their ranks at Spaghetti Westerns and hopefully help win the States tournament.
After the Spaghetti Western and state tournament, the team looks forward to continuing its == Frisbee passions in the Youth Club Championships. Unlike the Spaghetti Westerns and states tournaments which required competitors to submit their teams by high school, the Youth Club Championships creates teams by region and then brings the best teams from across the country to participate in the championship event on Aug. 9 and 10 in Blaine, Minn.