A Week at the Under-23 World Championships – Day 3, Part I

Posted: July 25, 2013 09:58 AM

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

Up ‘til now, the U.S.A. men’s and women’s teams have garnered quite a bit of ink. The mixed team has been covered slightly less, but that’s not for lack of interest: it’s because there’s not much to report. Game after game, the U.S.A. has gone out and taken care of business, beating opponents into the ground with methodical precision. The U.S.A. mixed team gave up eight points in their opening game against Venezuela; after that, they gave up just nine points in their final four pool plays games combined. They have even earned Callahan goals in four of their five matches. This team, so far, has been dominant.

After the team’s final pool play game – a 17-1 drubbing of Chinese Taipei – I sat down with a number of the mixed players in the first of a series of interview pieces from Toronto.


A Conversation with Jack Hatchett, Elijah Kerns, Lisa Pitcaithley and Natasha Won of U.S.A. Mixed

Eric Brach: Tell me about U.S.A. mixed. The interesting stuff. The stuff beyond the scoreboard.
Lisa Pitcaithley: Stuff that people wouldn’t really know?
Natasha Won: Jack has a twin.
LP: And I taught him everything. That’s why he’s so good.
Jack Hatchett: The first time I ever played, my brother was in a league, and they needed players. So I came out and got, like, five Ds, and I was like, "This is easy." Laughs.

EB: I noticed when you guys had to deal with the delay yesterday, you just put on some... what was it? Carly Rae Simon?
Elijah Kerns: There’s some Afro Man.
JH: There’s a lot of stuff on there.
LP: A lot of pop.
EK: Roll with it; that’s the team motto.
NW: Yeah.

EB: Buffalo, the site of your pre-tournament training camp – what was it like?
JH: Hard.
LP: Awesome.
NW: It was hot.
JH: We played a lot of Flong.
EB: That’s ...?
NW: A hydration game! Like flip cup and pong, with water.
LP: Yeah. We played so many games.
JH: That was the hydration game of choice.
EK: Jack and Lisa [Couper, on the women’s team] had a streak of like 10 games.
JH: Yeah, we won 10 in a row. NBD [no big deal]. We organized a tournament. We played every night.
LP: We had a lot of team bonding. Our first night here, we had about 18 of us in a room, and we all said something we liked about the person to our left.
NW: It was a good morale boost.
LP: Then we played Never Have I Ever.
NW: And we really got to know each other.
LP: We got to know each other really fast.
NW: Really fast!
JH: A little too much, in fact.

EB: You guys are keeping it very loose, huh?
EK: I wouldn’t say that we’re playing too loose – nobody’s throwing stupid throws; everybody’s playing to win. But in our first game, against Venezuela, the score was 17-8. And after the game, we talked about it, and we said, "We weren’t having a lot of fun; we weren’t playing our best."
JH: We played pretty tight.
EK: We said that to have this be anything less than the most positive experience we could, we’d just be cheating ourselves, because we’ve already put in all the hard work. So let’s go out, play loose, have fun and wreck shop.
LP: Yeah.
JH: Way to quote yourself, Eli.
LP: Laughs. Yeah!
JH: You said that! You’re the one who said that.
EK: Well, it turned us all around!
JH: Yeah, it did.
LP: It did.

EB: Anything else you do for team bonding?
EK: One thing that really helped the team bonding was karaoke.
LP: Yeah. We surround the boom box.
EK: Cami [Nelson] and Becca [Miller] (both from Iowa State) have an awesome boom box, and they’ve got karaoke mics. So we were going to practice one day, and Lee [Farnsworth] was playing his song, and they just gave him the mic, and he killed it. It was awesome.
JH: At first, Lee was really timid to do the karaoke, but now, he’s the first one –
LP: He embraces it so much.
JH: He led us in singing the national anthem when we scrimmaged Lake Effect, the Buffalo mixed team.
NW: Our first game.

EB: It sounds like you’ve really built something.
LP: We’ve been talking about getting this team together again at Potlatch or Vegas – some fun tournament. I really want to go to Vegas with this team. We’re all saying that this week is not enough time for all of us to be together. It’s just too ballin’.
NW: Yeah, well, we’re also all talking about just moving to the OC.
LP: And getting a house together.
NW: For the summer.
EK: It’s going to be like the Jersey Shore.
LP: It’ll be like not the NexGen bus, but the NexGen mansion!
JH: I’ll see if I can bring my truck out.
EK: I think we should go Duck Dynasty style! Let’s all go to Louisiana, go mudding and shoot skeet. Maybe frogging?
NW: I think we’re all just silly.
LP: We’re all a bunch of goofballs.

Silly or no, the U.S.A. mixed squad has established themselves as front-runners to be goofballs with gold medals around their necks. In addition to speaking to some of the players, I sat down with one of the team’s three coaches.

Jamie Nuwer, who also writes a medical column in the USA Ultimate magazine, took the time to chat with me as well about the U.S.A. mixed team and how they’ve come to be so successful so quickly.

A Conversation with Jamie Nuwer, Coach of USA Mixed

Eric Brach: So how’s it been so far?
Jamie Nuwer: It’s been fun. This team has a lot of personality. Right off the bat, someone brought a stereo, and we’re the only team with a stereo. That established that we were out here to have fun at this tournament. And for some reason, the guys on our team love singing karaoke. They love it.
EB: Really?
JN: Yes. If you put Topher [Davis] in front of a mic? That guy’s crazy. And Lee [Farnsworth]: that guy has such a good voice. He sang our national anthem for us. We had a little scrimmage against Lake Effect, a team from Buffalo, and he sang the national anthem for us on the speaker.

EB: I noticed that when the games were getting delayed, rather than getting all fidgety and antsy, the team just put on Taylor Swift, and Khalif [El-Salaam] just started dancing in front of everybody.
JN: I know! Khalif is so awesome. He’s a fun guy, a big personality. At U-20s, he was a little bit more shy, but now, he’s come into his own.
EB: Is he the class clown? Is there even one?
JN: Class clown? That’s like the whole team. When we played the Colombians, after the game, they gave a prize to the sexiest man and the sexiest woman. Everyone wanted it, and immediately, Lee took off his shirt, just going, ‘Ah, I’ll nominate myself!’ But then he didn’t get selected; Tyler [Boyd-Meredith] beat him out.
EB: Oh, man!
JN: Yeah. Brutal.

On team bonding...
JN: We’ve got a good groove going on. It’s nice because in our dorm, we have most of the ninth floor, so we have our own environment to hang out in. The players take ice baths in the trash cans.
EB: Really? That’s rough!
JN: I’m actually impressed that our tall guys are able to fit in the trash can at all.
EB: They just dunk themselves? Like Austin Powers faking going down an elevator?
JN: Yep.
EB: Why don’t they do it in a regular bath?
JN: There are no baths. Just showers. But hey, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, right?!
EB: Wow. That’s... that’s a photo we’ve got to get.
JN: Yep. It’s hilarious. Eighth and ninth floor. Any night. You’ll know it’s us because the guys’ voices go up a few octaves.

On tournament philosophy...
JN: We’ve been focusing on having a lot of fun. Our first game, we were a little bit out of it or whatever, and people got... I don’t know.  But then, in our second game, we just focused on positivity, and it made a huge difference for us.
EB: The team hasn’t looked tight at all, ever! It’s quite impressive, especially when you consider that this squad is made up of such young players.
JN: Well, these players, they still have their moments sometimes, but for the most part, they’ve all played pretty high-level ultimate. So, maturity-wise, they’ve got plenty going for them. And winning always helps, right?
EB: That’s true.
JN: So when [if] we go down in a game, we’ll have to see what we can do.

JN: I think the other thing that makes our team pretty awesome is we use our girls a lot.
EB: I noticed that. Does it seem like your ladies are way stronger than your opponents’ ladies? Your guys are obviously strong, too, but are the ladies even more so?
JN: Yes. So far, anyway, the difference in skill level is pretty big, and we work on using that. I imagine that Japan will test us, though.

The U.S.A. mixed team now moves into power pools. With games scheduled against Canada, Ireland and Japan over the next two days, they’ll be looking to extend their winning streak and move into elimination brackets with a record of 8-0.

Day 3 Highlights - Images by CBMT creative


WFDF World Under-23 Ultimate Championships (official website)

Tw (@USAUltimateU23):


Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.