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Checking in with 2018 Callahan winner Jackelyne “Kobe” Nguyen

Checking in with 2018 Callahan winner Jackelyne “Kobe” Nguyen
USA Ultimate recently announced the winner of the 2018 Women's Callahan Award: Jackelyne “Kobe” Nguyen. A member of UC-Berkeley's Pie Queens, Kobe quickly went from being a completely inexperienced rookie to being one of the leaders in the sport of ultimate. Thanks for answering our questions, Kobe!

Savage: How did you get into playing Ultimate?
Kobe: Ultimate was an unexpected treasure that made its way into my life. Before ultimate, I played basketball competitively throughout high school, even reaching the state championship finals one year. After getting into Cal I immediately looked into joining the club basketball team, but it didn't exist. I knew I still wanted to play a team sport so I looked into rugby and ultimate: the 2 sports known as things to try in college. Logistically, Pie Queens had their first practice before rugby's, and after that practice I had never felt more supported by any group of women who barely knew me. They took the time to teach me how to throw, catch, and constantly high five after I did anything, good or bad. Their warm spirit and community is what kept me in this program and what has led me to love each and every aspect of this sport.  

Savage: What do you love about the sport?
Kobe: Definitely the community. I've made all of my close friends through ultimate regardless of the division I'm playing in. The great spirit that holds as the foundation of this sport is what drives my excitement and passion to be a part of the ultimate community. Not only is the spirit amazing, but also ultimate itself is a unique sport where success comes from an entire team rather than an individual. That feeling of crushing a defense with all seven people touching the disc to score is one of my favorite feelings. Plus, ultimate is thrilling because of its balance of calm and collected play and athletic and hype plays that can happen within a single point. 

Savage: How do you train? 
Kobe: Nothing too fancy here. I do track, lifting, and field workouts outlined from each team I've been a part of. Whenever we would have tourney week I'd make sure I can get some extra pulling or throwing reps before practice. Something that my roommate and I would do during track workouts is role play our last sprint as a universe point scenario. "Pie Queens with the D, she picks it up, hucks it to space. Will she make it to score and win the game?!" This last sprint typically ends with us pretending to sky each other and crashing on the nearby grass. 

Savage: Any tips for young girls just starting out in the sport? 
Kobe: As cliche as it sounds, don't give up. Whether you're starting in mixed or women's, as much frustration you may get whether it's not getting thrown to or not feeling like you can throw, keep trying! Never feel like asking a vet to throw is bothersome because they are just waiting for you to ask. And if you feel like some of your throws aren't game ready, make 100 percent cuts or play out of your mind defense, these pieces are just as important. Women in ultimate is a growing movement, so you have a whole community of women to back you up if you ever feel down. 
Savage: What's your ultimate Ultimate memory?
Kobe: So many memories to choose from! I would say a collection of events that happened my sophomore year on Pie Queens. After graduating, a ton of seniors the year prior that expected to make Nationals, our program figured that the next year would be a rebuilding year. Tournament after tournament we started winning big games and playing well, which ended up with us earning a bid for the Southwest. Our team was ecstatic and didn't know what to do as none of us had gone to Nationals ever before. Going to Nationals that year felt like a dream as the success of our team came from everyone on our roster. To top it off, Marisa won the Callahan and as a mentor, teammate, and best friend to me, I have never felt so happy for someone who I knew deserved it so much. That entire year set the Pie Queens program on great footing to continuously be a program that strives on building its players and providing an environment for people to love the sport as much as we love each other. 
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Road to Nationals: 4 Questions with Stanford Bloodthirsty

Road to Nationals: 4 Questions with Stanford Bloodthirsty

The last few weeks, we've been interviewing some Savage teams that were headed to D-III College Championships in Illinois. Now, we're moving on to the D-I teams, starting with Stanford's Bloodthirsty. Thanks to Jack August Kimmel for answering these questions for us.

Savage: Any pre-game rituals?

JAK: Stanford Bloodthirsty is a team full of goofy, fun savages, and we use these traits to our advantage when facing off against opponents. Before each game, we focus on bringing the hype and energy from the very first point to the very last point of the game, and this starts with our warmup. In our warmup jog, our team does a chant that we learned from a former player who grew up in Mali, and although nobody knows exactly what it means, it certainly gets our team focused and energized. Right before the game, we end our warmup by huddling tightly and unleashing the hype through a chant or cheer.

Savage: How do you celebrate a win? Mourn a loss? 

JAK: Our team thrives on the energy and swagger that comes from our intense defense and systematic offense on the field, but our sideline also plays a large role in maintaining high energy levels throughout the game. To keep this enthusiasm stable, we cheer after every point, win or lose, knowing that we need to immediately focus on the next point. Ultimate tournaments are often structured such that games are played consecutively, meaning we need to not only be able to carry our energy from point to point, but also from game to game. That’s why, win or lose, we are sure to always maintain focus on the next game, and engaging in ridiculous cheers and playing music helps remind us who Bloodthirsty is: a team full of goofy, fun savages.

Ironically, one aspect of our team’s cheers that set us apart from other teams is our unashamed willingness to steal cheers from other teams. We aren’t Ducks, Hodags, or Airsquid, but if a cheer sounds catchy or cool, we have no problem using it. But when we aren’t copying cheers, we’re usually yelling about Crab People, Shrek, Solar Shields, or the number 4.

Savage: Who are your MVPs?

JAK: The three captains that have led our team throughout this season are the MVPs of our team. Gabe Hernandez, Allan Ndovu, and Drew Mathieson have inspired and motivated us to play for each other and have fun no matter the outcome of a point or game. Our team will surely miss these three seniors next year, and they have created a team culture and demanded a level of play that has brought us back to nationals for our second straight year. 

Considering that swagger is such an important element of our team culture and identity, we would be remiss not to mention the role our Savage Ultimate apparel and uniform play in maintaining our team’s swag.  Look good, feel good, play good. It’s that simple. When our team is repping the joggers and the quarter-zips in warmups, the parents are wearing the team T-shirts, and by game time we all have on those Savage jerseys, we know we are absolutely stunting on our opponents. Pair these with our signature sunglasses, the Solar Shields, and add in a chant about the number 4, and there is no stopping us. We can’t thank Savage Ultimate enough for keeping our swagger at maximum levels and ensuring that we not only play well, but we also look good while doing it.

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Savage Recap: 2018 USA Ultimate Beach Championships

Savage Recap: 2018 USA Ultimate Beach Championships
Sixty-one ultimate frisbee teams converged on Virginia Beach, Va. this past weekend for the 2018 USA Ultimate Beach Championships. The five divisions had some intense play on a weekend that was supposed to be dark and stormy—but ended up being quite alright. Fortunately, the rain and wind stayed away for the most part.

Savage was on site supporting its teams and making new friends. Our favorite stand-out team was Dismal Swamp Rats, who won the Mixed Masters Division. And our hometown boys Richmond Fludwhale were one of the only teams to beat the Men's Divisions Champions Humiliswag.

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