A Week at the Under-23 World Championships – Day 6

Posted: July 27, 2013 10:39 PM

The following is part of our of continuing coverage of the 2013 WFDF U-23 Championships in Toronto, Canada. 

A Conversation with Joe Durst, Hector Valdivia and Bob Krier

After my conversations with Jamie Nuwer of U.S.A. mixed and Carolyn Matthews of U.S.A. women’s, I sat down with the three coaches of U.S.A. men’s team: Joe Durst, Hector Valdivia and Bob Krier. We discussed the men’s teams success, their mentality and their progress.

Eric Brach: You guys are doing great out there. Really impressive results – I just wanted to talk to you guys to learn more about what’s going on off the field, beyond the 17-3 blowout wins.

Hector Valdivia: So you want behind the scenes stuff?

EB: Yes! The things you wouldn’t suspect. I want to know if...I don’t know, if Mischa [Freystaetter] has a tattoo of a rainbow on his chest.

HV: It’s actually a surprisingly un-tattooed team.

Joe Durst: (Picking up the voice recorder) "Mischa has a tattoo of a rainbow on his chest."

EB: Uh-huh. Yeah. Thanks, Joe.

HV: Real stuff? Hm. Well, Christian Johnson is one of the quietest guys, if not the quietest guy, on the team. But he’s putting up huge numbers for us. And he was his girlfriend’s first kiss. She’s on the U.S.A. team, and they’ve been together for three years. 

JD: Kelsen Alexander was a nationally ranked chess juniors player and a nationally ranked rock climber.

HV: He’s a fantastic rock climber. 

EB: All right. Any dark and dirty secrets?

HV: (laughing) Um, Matt Bode...

JD: Matt Bode was nicknamed ‘Clutch’ at eight years old by his father.

HV: (still laughing) I don’t know who gave it to him, but he says his nickname is "Clutch."

EB: That’s always dangerous, walking onto a team and trying to give yourself a cool nickname – that’s how you end up with something really bad. 

Regarding the schedule...

EB: What is the team doing with their downtime?

HV: When they have a nice late start to the day, they take the opportunity to unwind. You’d be surprised how boring it is behind the scenes.

JD: It’s true. Part of that 17-3 win [they had over Italy] was, they came down, to a man, to play a few points a half. To not play everything, to get in when it’s 15-3 and only have to be reminded that the real challenge is mental, not to lapse. That’s it. It’s the most sheepdogging we coaches have had to do the whole time: to say "stay focused." And then they do.

HV: They hang out, watching Trainspotting, followed by the OC, followed by whatever else is on TV. Just trying to keep physically fresh.

Bob Krier: They’re literally under a blanket on the floor, a guy on the couch, watching TV.

On being under 23...

EB: I was talking to Jamie Nuwer before, and she pointed out that it’s different with this generation than it was when we were that age because these guys, they’ve already been playing high-level, competitive ultimate for six, seven years at this point – they know what they’re dealing with and needs to get done.

BK: Oh yeah. We’ve got a bunch of guys who already went to Worlds in juniors.

JD: Dalton Smith already won Club Championships with Doublewide.

HV: He’s been getting teased for being the ace in the [UltiCards] deck.

On the competition..

EB: Are there any teams these guys are either really nervous about or really psyched for?

HV: They want to play the best competition here. I don’t sense any nerves. We’re starting to see ourselves as one unit. So there was maybe some apprehension before about whether we could come together [so quickly] to compete against those teams, but now, I think they’re starting to think that it’s happening for us.

JD: Nor had there been any talk about looking [forward] to semis. We’ve been very excited to play all of the teams here. We’ve been looking at tomorrow, every day. Not just finals. We had a showcase game against Colombia, and the players knew they’d have to get up for that one; then Switzerland beat Colombia, and they realized, "Oh, we have to get up for that game, too!" We lost the first half of the first game of the tournament to Germany. That made them sit up and say, "Oh, we’re going to have to get up for every one of these games!"

On being challenged...

EB: What was the huddle like after losing that first half, in that first game against Germany? Because in the second half, you just blew them out of the water.

BK: We just pointed out that we had things to fix. We knew things weren’t going to be perfect right away, but we pointed out: these are the things we need to fix, and if we do those, we’ll play well. It was nice and calm; we knew that was part of the process of putting so many guys together that hadn’t played together [before]. We knew we might have our moments; we identified some of them, and that – and our defense – was key to our success.

HV: Our strength is our depth. We just grind on teams and wear them down eventually. Especially when we have long points, whether we end up scoring them or not, those are wins for us. Because more often than not, our opponents are going to have some guys that need to go in the next point that are gonna be gassed. And we can just keep throwing fresh lines.

JD: We’ve been doing scouting. Not in depth, but walking around, watching the games, watching a half at a time, trying to find some quarterbacks and some key downfield receivers. And I would think that would be pretty nightmarish for someone scouting us. We run a lot of different stuff from a lot of different people.

HV: Everyone makes plays [on this team]. We’re getting contributions from everyone.

BK: You can’t say that it all runs through this one guy, or that guy, or these two. If you focus on those two, you’re going to miss the fact that there are so many guys contributing on our team.

On the single biggest difference between two generations of ultimate...

EB: I have to ask: what about the gloves?

HV: They love ‘em.

JD: Some of them love ‘em.

BK: It’s the youth! They love the gloves.

EB: I’m asking you guys. When we were coming up, anyone wearing gloves would instantly get made fun of. That’s changed.

HV: I think when Kurt [Gibson] started wearing gloves, and people would see, "Oh, he’s better than me and he’s wearing gloves," - what could you say? He was the first guy that was really good wearing gloves. That made it okay.

JD: And then [the manufacturers] started augmenting them to fit the sport. They removed the seam on the middle finger, so your forehand wouldn’t get released on something that’s designed to tear. That helped.

EB: Do you guys throw with them?

JD: I do.

BK: I got a pair.

HV: Nope. I trust my hands.

After going down 3-0, U.S.A. won their semifinal game against Australia. They play their gold-medal game against Canada tomorrow.

Day 6 Highlights - Images by CBMT Creative



WFDF World Under-23 Ultimate Championships (official website)

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