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7 Questions with Chicago Union's Ross Barker

7 Questions with Chicago Union's Ross Barker
The AUDL's 2022 season may be over, but we're already looking forward to next season — and the AUDL All-Star Game in November. Today we're chatting with Chicago Union captain Ross Barker about the past season and his own path to Ultimate. Give it a read, and be sure to check out our official AUDL team store to stock up on gear before the next game.

VII: First, a bit about you. How long have you been playing ultimate? What brought you to this team specifically?
Ross Barker: I started playing ultimate when I got to college. I knew nothing about the sport before then. But I began playing for the Wisconsin Hodags in the fall of my freshman year (2012). I played with them for 5 years, and was a second-team college All-American in 2017. I also played for the U-24 USA Men’s National Team and won a gold medal in the world championships in Perth, Australia in January 2018. I had moved to Chicago (Summer 2017) after graduating from Wisconsin for a job, and began my career with Chicago Union (known as the Wildfire at the time) in the summer of 2018. I was unanimously nominated as a captain after my first year on the team, and have been a captain ever since (2019-present). I came to this team when they were really bad (one of the worst teams in the league), and found the challenge of turning this team into a successful program very alluring. 

VII: So how did your season go? 
R.B.  We made it to the championship game!!! Unfortunately we lost to the New York Empire, but losing to the best team in AUDL history isn’t the worst thing. I felt our season was incredible. We had a lot of moments you yearn for as an athlete: Blowout wins, game-winners, and comeback wins. It was the best season in Chicago history and that’s definitely something to be proud of, especially with how this program has turned itself around in the last five years.

VII:  What do you do when you're not playing ultimate?
R.B. I am currently a graduate student at Northwestern working on my master’s degree in Prosthetics & Orthotics. I will graduate March 2023. That along with lots training, playing with my dog, visiting family and friends, and enjoying all the things Chicago has to offer are what I do outside of ultimate. Prosthetics is the mainstay though.

VII: What do you think sets your team apart from others in the AUDL?
R.B. I think we have the most fun out of every team in the AUDL, and we have become very competitive. We celebrate each other after a great play, and we pick each other up when we fail. I think our culture is extremely professional, and one that is continuing to improve every year.

VII:  Who are some stand-out players on your team and what makes them special?
R.B. Pawel Janas is the best center handler in the world in my opinion. He can make any throw and is consistently the focal point of other team’s game plan in how to stop us, and yet he continues to be extremely effective. Nate Goff is the best defender in the world in my opinion as well. He’s got the size, speed, and intelligence to make incredible plays and always be a threat on the field. Paul Arters is a world class thrower. The things that man does with a frisbee will make even someone who doesn’t know the sport drop their jaw. I believe I’m a standout as well due to my intelligence, speed, and receiving skill for our offense, but I don’t particularly like gloating.

VII: What's your favorite team to play against and why?
R.B. I don’t know that I necessarily have a favorite team to play against if I’m being honest. Playing at Madison is great because the atmosphere, fan engagement, and field is the best in the AUDL. I also played with a lot of those guys when I lived in Madison.

VII: How does your team prep for a game? 
R.B. We have practice once a week, and a scouting report for every team we play against. We look at our opponents’ tendencies and strengths and weaknesses and game plan as best we can to counter that to give us an advantage to win. The foundation is competing and going all our regardless of the result.
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Back To School Sale

Back To School Sale

It is officially school season and we're celebrating with our annual Back To School Sale. Now thru Labor Day get huge savings on all things VII. 

Mystery SaleHead over to our mystery items collection and get huge discounts. We've got $7 Jerseys and $19 Full Sub Mystery Jerseys along with t-shirts, jackets, discs, and more! It's a mystery! Supplies are limited so hurry before your size runs out of stock! SHOP NOW!

AUDL BOGO 50% OFF SALELast weekend the New York Empire defeated the Chicago Union to win the 2nd AUDL Championship in 3 years. USE CODE AUDLBTS and buy any AUDL item and get any other in our store for 50% off. SHOP NOW!

MLQ SaleDid you hear the news? Quidditch is now officially Quadball! Good thing MLQ doesn't have to change their branding! Grab a replica MLQ jersey for 25% off. Use code MLQBTS at checkout. SHOP NOW!

NEW Spikeball Gear!Check out all the new gear from Spikeball X VII. Use code SPIKEIT to get 15% off! SHOP NOW!

Calvin Heimburg's New Wave Jersey DroppedCalvin's out at World's this week vying for a World Title. Let's Go Calvin. Use code CALVINBTS to Buy any Calvin item and get any other item 50% OFF anything in the store! SHOP NOW!

Looking for anything else? Use code LABORDAY22 for 25% entire store! 

PS. Calling all college teams! Want to take advantage of 25% off your team store? Fill out an interest form by Sept 5th. START HERE.

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Here's what to expect from MLQ's 2022 season

Here's what to expect from MLQ's 2022 season
Major League Quidditch's 2022 season is officially underway, and to mark the occasion, we're checking in with the league's Jack McGovern. We're talking standout players, events, and teams, plus an update on the Quidditch name change. Be sure to order all of your official MLQ gear exclusively through VII Apparel Co.!

VII: What's new with the MLQ this season? 
Jack McGovern: Our two Canadian franchises are back! The Ottawa Black Bears and the Toronto Raiders are playing their first games since 2019 due to border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire league was suspended for the 2020 season of course, but cross-border play remained shut down for the 2021 season, so only the American teams got to return to the pitch. We are really excited to have the Black Bears and the Raiders back and looking forward to seeing what they can do. Toronto opened their season with a three-game sweep over Cleveland last weekend, so the year has started well for them!

VII: What are the teams to look out for in 2022? 
JM: The Austin Outlaws and the New York Titans are the returning finalists from 2021. Austin won their third Benepe Cup and enter the season as the heavy favorites, having just added a large contingent of players from the college national champion squad at the University of Texas. New York comes into 2022 with a new coaching staff and was not originally predicted by many analysts to win the East Division, but they just absolutely showed out in their season opener last weekend against the Washington Admirals, who were labeled as the team to beat heading into the year, and won two out of three games. The Minneapolis Monarchs, an expansion team in 2019, are also looking to defend their North Division title in 2021, which was only their second season in existence! They are hoping to string together a couple division titles in a row like the three-peat that the Indianapolis Intensity last achieved from 2015-2017.

VII: Who are some standout players to keep an eye out for? 
JM: Thirteen new players were just added to Team USA and nine are playing in cities with an MLQ team this summer! They are pretty spread out too so chances are there is a national team player on a team near you. Here is the complete list: Rachel Ayella-Silver (New York Titans), Justin Cole (Washington Admirals), Taylor Crawford and Ian Scura (Boston Forge), Ryan Davis (Charlotte Aviators), Miguel Esparza and Daniel Williams (San Antonio Soldados), Erin McBride (Austin Outlaws), and Darian Murcek-Ellis (Kansas City Stampede). 
There are also a number of returning Team USA players from the Austin Outlaws, Boston Forge, New York Titans, and Washington Admirals. Team USA is preparing to host the International Quidditch Association World Cup in Richmond, Virginia next year, so this summer is a key season for players with hopes of representing their country on home soil to prove themselves on the pitch.

VII: What are some of the big events fans should put on their calendars? 
JM: We are staging our first-ever North Division Championship in South Bend, Indiana on June 23-24. With the return of the Canadian teams and the Rochester Whiteout shifting over from the East Division, the North Division now has six teams as opposed to five members like the other two divisions. In response, the league decided to split the North Division into two halves of three teams for the regular season and then host a playoff-style tournament to determine the divisional qualification spots for the league-wide MLQ Championship in Howard County, Maryland on August 20-21. The North Division Championship gives the league a chance to put on another marquee event in a great city and shine a spotlight on the often overlooked franchises in the middle of the country.
In the same vein, the two Canadian teams, who usually compete in separate divisions, will play against each other for the first time and contest a  three-game series in Toronto on July 30. The Scavenger Showdown, named for the beloved mascots of each franchise (which are a raccoon for the Raiders and a black bear for the Black Bears), will determine bragging rights at the highest possible level north of the border.

VII: What's up with the name change — any progress with that? 
JM: Yes! As you might have heard, Major League Quidditch and US Quidditch, the governing body for the sport in the United States, are in the middle of a process to change the name of the sport. We have conducted surveys of players, staff, and fans and are currently analyzing the data and seeking feedback from legal teams. We feel it is an extremely important decision for the sport to be able to continue to grow, so we want to make sure to get it right. Sorry that I can't provide more information, but you will hopefully be hearing from us soon!

VII: Anything else noteworthy you'd like to add? 
JM: We got off to a great start last weekend and we are thrilled about the schedule for the rest of the summer! Check and see if games are being played anywhere near you and get your tickets now!
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7 Questions with Austin Sol's Kyle Henke

7 Questions with Austin Sol's Kyle Henke

We're well on our way into the AUDL's 2022 season, and continuing our series of Q&As with some of our favorite players in the league. Next up: the Austin Sol's Kyle Henke. Superfans: Be sure to grab your official Austin Sol replica jerseys and more right over here.

VII: First, a bit about you. How long have you been playing ultimate? What brought you to this team?
Kyle Henke: I've been playing ultimate since 2016 — my freshman year of college. After playing with Texas Tech Tumbleweed for a semester, there was some buzz around the professional open tryouts in Texas that were happening. I was encouraged by a teammate of mine, Carson Wilder, that the tryouts were an excellent opportunity to be seen by high level players, and the feedback is very helpful for exponential improvement. I seized the opportunity, and next thing I knew I was in Dallas being introduced to Jimmy Mickle and the like. While I didn't make the Roughnecks in 2017, I did gain confidence going into the Austin Sol tryouts for whom I played the 2017-2019, and now 2022 season.

VII: What do you do when you're not playing ultimate? 
KH: When I'm not playing ultimate, I'm likely doing some sort of manual labor, whether it's power washing, landscaping, or welding. I enjoy seeing instant results of my work, and most manual labor fills that desire.

VII: What do you think sets your team apart from others in the AUDL? 
KH: Different from other teams in the AUDL, my team is in a slow transition to prioritizing local players. There's something that is slowly building in Austin between college, club, and pro that resembles a sustainable pipeline and it's very exciting to be a part of.

VII: Who are some stand-out players on your team and what makes them special? 
KH: Reid Bacon stands out to me as a member of the Sol. He's very passionate and intentional about whatever role he plays, whether on or off the field. He is a reliable piece for the Austin Sol. 

VII: What's your favorite team to play against and why? 
KH: I enjoy playing against, you guessed it, Dallas. There are too many players on that team that I've gotten to play with in the past — college, club, and pro — that make the games that much more competitive. 

VII: How does your team prep for a game? 
KH: In preparation for a game, our team watches film, listens to music, and goofs around to keep everyone loose. As I said, we're a young team, and humor has been an easy way to calm the nerves.

VII: What are your hopes and dreams for the 2022 AUDL season?
KH: My hope for the 2022 AUDL season is to have as many perfect points as we can. For me personally, the pursuit of the perfect offense possession is the most satisfying. For the rest of the team, a perfect zone defense or converting a break opportunity is also a win if we can do it perfectly. 
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6 Questions with D.C. Breeze's A.J. Merriman

6 Questions with D.C. Breeze's A.J. Merriman
We're continuing our blog series with some of our favorite AUDL players. Next up, D.C. Breeze's A.J. Merriman!


VII: First, a bit about you. How long have you been playing ultimate? What brought you to D.C. Breeze?
A.J. Merriman: I’ve been playing ultimate since 2015, and been a Breeze fan pretty much since day one — since I found out ultimate was a real sport. (Google took me to the AUDL before anything.) I tried out in 2018 and then made the team in 2019. 


VII: What do you think sets your team apart from others in the AUDL?
A.J. The Breeze is different from other teams in our approach. We have a very committed front office as well as very committed players. Two of us are full time ultimate players and many more play ultimate more than anything else. We have two (almost three) club teams filled with mostly Breeze players that finish top 4 at regionals each year. (Truck Stop and Vault) A lot of cities can be almost cliquey when it comes to different teams and the AUDL, but ultimate all meets at the top (the Breeze) in D.C. 


VII: Who are some stand-out players on your team and what makes them special? 
A.J. Jonny Malks, Alexandre Fall, and Christian Boxley are all outstanding players that are goofballs and bring their own fun energy to the team. Fall is a retired frat bro who always has energy and plays till the last whistle. Jonny has all the references and offbeat quirky jokes, he’ll get real personal and have you laughing about things you didn’t think you would be. His throws (and pivots) are equally as surprising and will leave your mouth wide open. (Subscribe to his YouTube). Then Box is more low-key — you’re gonna have to be standing next to him to hear a witty comment or funny opinion about something. But once he gets on the field it’s impossible not to notice how sharp his details are, from footwork to just flow within the game, he’s got kyrie level zen when it comes to moving on the field. 


VII: What's your favorite team to play against and why? 
A.J.: I like playing against NY because they’re good. Really, really good. That’s all I’ll give them. Wish I had a different answer. 


VII: How does your team prep for a game? 
A.J.: Our team all preps differently. We’ve got a couple guys that get really hype almost angry before games, we’ve got a kinda psychotic so amped we're calm group, and a bunch of really nice guys who just relax, chat with each other and play Yu-Gi-Oh. But we’re all gettin ready to have the most fun we have all week during those two-hour games. 


VII: What are your hopes and dreams for the 2022 AUDL season? 
A.J.: Hopes and dreams? A championship for the city with my boys. We’ve got some really good young talent but they’re ready to help us bring home a chip, and they’ll only get more ready as time goes on. 
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7 Questions with the AUDL Dallas Legion's Kevin Richardson

7 Questions with the AUDL Dallas Legion's Kevin Richardson

It's AUDL Season, and we at VII Apparel Co. are proud to be outfitting some of Ultimate's greatest players. To celebrate the season, we're interviewing ambassadors from some of our favorite teams. First up: We're chatting with Kevin Richardson of Dallas Legion. Be sure to get your Dallas Legion fan gear — including replica jerseys, shorts, and socks — on the official VII AUDL Fan Shop. Take it away, Kevin!

VII: First, a bit about you. How long have you been playing ultimate? What brought you to this team specifically? 
Kevin Richardson: I have been playing since 2004, my freshman year in college at The University of North Texas. I have lived in the DFW market my entire life and after playing club in Texas for many years I joined the Dallas Roughnecks (now Legion) in 2018. 
VII: What do you do when you're not playing ultimate? 
KR: My wife and I own a personal training business and real estate business. We love being outdoors and spend most of our free time traveling, competing in races and events or just taking our dogs for a trip anywhere we can go.
VII: What do you think sets your team apart from others in the AUDL?
KR: Dallas Legion has a lot of experience in the AUDL with our veteran teammates, and I think as a season progresses, teams rely on experience a lot. We have some new, hungry athletes in the DFW area and mixing these two groups together gives us a very talented 20-man roster on game day. 
VII: Who are some stand-out players on your team and what makes them special? 
KR: Matt Bennett has been an AUDL stand-out for many years, and his defensive running-mate Ben Lewis has the ability to get breaks at any time on defense. I think Brandon Malecek and Jimmy Zuraw create a really unique handler duo capable of unlocking the entire field for our receivers. Jimmy's lefty throws can break the mark anywhere on the field and Brandon historically has been one of the best long-ball throwers in the league. Lastly, I'll point out rookie Alec Wilson Holliday. One of the fastest players on any field and is hungry to take the best matchups on defense.

VII: What's your favorite team to play against and why? 
KR:
Easy answer — Raleigh or Carolina Flyers. I respect the heck out of Mike DeNardis and his team over in Carolina. They play the right way and in 2021 it was great seeing them raise the trophy finally! They develop athletes and players better than any other team in the AUDL and I am so happy I get to play them again this year. 

VII: How does your team prep for a game? 
KR: Our Slack channel is usually pretty busy the week of. Early in the week we are getting in our track workouts and throwing workouts, hydrating and eating our best. Thursday night we have a throwing/drills practice and have a talk about the weekend's matchups and goals. Friday we recover, get our gallon of water, watch film on our matchups and get some rest. Game Day is different for everyone, but I try to get the team up and on their feet early and break a sweat. 5p arrival and 5:30p throws on the field, 6p stretch, mobilize, ramp up. 6:30p full speed drills, 6:50p 7 on 7, 7p Game Time. 
VII: What are your hopes and dreams for the 2022 AUDL season? 
KR: Win some games! We are in a tough division — five games against a talented Austin team, two versus Atlanta and Raleigh plus Minnesota. It's a tough schedule. I'd like to steal some games from those three South teams and put us in the conversation of taking that final playoff spot! 
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7 Questions with Philadelphia Phoenix's James Pollard

7 Questions with Philadelphia Phoenix's James Pollard

As we reach the end of February, our final featured Black athlete this month is pro ultimate player James Pollard!

"I love it. I get to play the sport I love without having to pay money to do so. I get to share my love of the game and put on a show each game for the fans in the stands. I could be the reason that young kids that look like me want to learn how to play the sport."

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A Disc-ful of LoVIIng

A Disc-ful of LoVIIng
People say a heart is the shape of love, but they've probably never seen a plastic circle work its magic. Whether they're flying toward an endzone or a basket, discs have the magical capacity to bring together entire communities, start beautiful friendships, and create adorable couples. There's nothing like sharing your passion with your best friend in life and love, and we want to celebrate everything our favorite sports do for us! Check out these disc-inspired meet-cutes below to tug your heartstrings and hug your frisbabe** a little closer this V-Day. Continue reading