Russian Kate (??):
After the previous article Kurt was mad at me for not remembering him, but remembering his brother. What a shame! I suppose that he’s gonna hate me forever for such an article…
Ultimate is played by absolutely different people. You remember some of them for super game on the field, some for spending great time with them off the field, some, very few, for both. I would say that for me Chris is of secon type.
My first Nationals, 2011. I met so many new people on and off the fields, experienced my first difficulties in communication with Doublewide, and I guess that’s why my first memories about Chris were only from the last day and the party at Daiquiri Deck.
This pretty small club was stuffed, like Moscow subway during rush hours, I’m not kidding. And there were only two places where you could more or less take a breath. Losing my balance I almost flew into this buffer zone when somebody caught me up:
- Oh, look at her! This is that darkhorse Russian girl from the fields? – both guys laughed. – Hi! I’m Brodie, and this is my friend, Chris.
Of course I knew Brodie Smith, I saw his videos and trick shots and of course I wanted to meet him and talk for a while; so I should have been happy, but I just stood there and stared at Chris. There is some hidden wild spark in his eyes (in both brother’s eyes actually), which makes his gaze so piercing. Like cobra’s look before hunting jump. Though I think it’s a special look for the girls :)
Finally Brodie got my attention and we talked about Russia, girls, camps, US, and something else. I had a mixed feeling after this chat: on the one hand it was fun to talk to them, but on the other hand I felt very uncomfortable for not understanding half of their Southern American English and it seems to me that they both got it and took advantage of this.
Next time I met Chris one year later in October of 2012 on the same fields in Sarasota. At first I recognized this wild spark in the eyes and then I remembered his name and the moment of our first meeting. I was very surprised when he came up to me and said:
- Oh! I remember you! You are that darkhorse Russian girl!
“WTF?” – I thought, however continued the chat. Just to be polite. Thanks God I did it! Chris turned out to bevery kind, interesting and fun guy.
I still don’t understand half of what he says or writes and have to open dictionary again and again, but we always have something to talk and laugh about. Together with his brother they make a flammable mix!
And yes, of course he is excellent D player. High speed, lay outs, tough mark – that’s all about Chris, kinda work darkhorse :)
Chris is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. His personality is contagious and you won't go a minute in a conversation with him without laughing. He is genuine, honest, loyal, and dedicated. His unwavering positive outlook on life is contagious with those who are around him. Chris exemplifies the kind of person you want as a teammate, the kind of person you want as a friend, and the kind of person you want as a brother.
Chris has a strong passion for Ultimate and as his teammate on the field for so many years I can safely say that there has never been a dull moment when Chris was around. The campers are lucky to have Chris at this camp. He will surely make this a memorable experience for many of the campers with his on-field shenanigans and his off-field blooper. Chris will easily be everyone's favorite coach by the end of the trip.
Kurt Gibson, Doublewide #7, brother and teammate
- Date of birth: 5/3/1987
- Place of birth: New York, New York
- Height: 6’ 2’’
- Weight: 180 lbs.
- University: University of Florida
I started playing ultimate in my first year at college in 2005-2006. I grew up playing basketball, football, baseball, lacrosse, and swimming, but was not good enough to make those teams at University of Florida. My older brother Kurt played ultimate on the college team though, and he pretty much made me come out and play on the team. I am glad he did because I have been playing ever since.
I somewhat remember my first practice, I started off the before the season started practicing with University of Florida B-Team, because honestly, I was super terrible. I had only thrown a frisbee a few times at the beach over the years, and I wasn't even good at doing that! So it was kind of depressing to show up to a practice for this new sport and be the worst player out there. I remember we had a very "hippy" coach that was teaching us some zone I had never heard of called the "clam". He was also showing players how to throw through the zone to beat it. It was interesting to learn about but I had no idea what was going on. Needles to say, my first practice was interesting because I learned a lot of new things but I still was terrible at the sport.
My first year - My first year was probably the greatest year any 1st year player could ever boast about.
Like I said, I started off on the B-Team at college, and although I was learning over the first few weeks of practice I attended, I still was very bad at all aspects of the sport. I could not throw a backhand well, and I definitely could not throw a flick. It was so hard! I played football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and swimming when I was growing up, and I was always a great player at all of these, so it was a little bit frustrating to not be good at Ultimate. The only thing I was good at at least was running fast.
Well, once the Spring school semester came around, and the college ultimate regular season was beginning, somehow I was told by my older brother that I was getting moved up to the A-Team. (It definitely was not because of my skill). My brother was one of the captains, and he was able to convince the other players that even though i wasn't good then, I would get good if I started playing with them. Well, I think it ended up being a great strategy.
I did get better week after week, because I would show up 30 minutes before every practice to work on some basic skills with our other captain Cyle Van Auken. I would literally just make 50 downfield under cuts, practice running full speed through the frisbee so that I would not get lay-out D'd, catching it, and then dumping it back to him as he came up behind me to re-set the disc.
That is what I could be good at doing in a game to be helpful to my teammates so that is what I practiced getting better at every day.
Anyways, I ended up getting to play a whole lot that season, but not because I became extraordinarily good at ultimate, it was because our team was so good that I would get to play when we were crushing the other teams. I even got a nickname that year as "The Closer!" because I would usually score the last goal in all of our games.
Our University of Florida team had a final record of 49-1 that season, losing only by 1 point on double-game-point to our rival Wisconsin Hodags at the Centex tournament. We went on to win the National Championship though, and one of our Captains Tim Gehret won the Callahan award too.
So, in my first year, I won a national championship, improved a lot as a player, and met a lot of super fun, life-long friends. I couldn't wait to play again the next year and get even better.
My most memorable tournament was in college in 2008. I remember we took our University of Florida college ultimate team to “Club Terminus” which was up in Atlanta, Georgia I believe. The weather was out of control. We literally were playing ultimate in a snow blizzard. 30+ mph wind speeds and heavy snow was blowing in everybody’s face. It was very difficult to throw a Frisbee, let alone compete in a real game. These windy and cold conditions were what our team played best in though. We had an unbelievable 4-man zone, and not even many of the best club teams could break through it. We hucked the disc going downwind every single time and set our zone all game long. We ended beating Ring of Fire at that tournament, but lost to Chain Lightning in the finals. As a college team, it was a pretty unbelievable feat to play as well as we did against that level of Club competition. And it was super fun hucking every point in the wind!
My greatest ultimate achievement I would have to say was being the captain and leader of my 2010 University of Florida College ultimate team that went on to win the USA Ultimate College National Championship that year. Of course, there is nothing like the feeling of winning a Club National Championship like I did in 2012 with Doublewide and knowing that you are on the *best team in the world, but there is also nothing like leading a team of young men in college, with all the distractions and commitment issues that you can run in to with college students, that make it that much more difficult to keep the entire group focused on the ultimate prize of winning it all. Not to mention you only get a maximum of 5 years of eligibility to win which makes it all the more emotional when you are able to win it.
I joint Doublewide in 2010. My brother Kurt was the captain. I had already played a season on another club team, Ring of Fire, but I moved to Doublewide because I missed playing with my brother and my other Florida teammate Brodie Smith. Not to mention, the rest of the team was loaded with young, talented athletes and I knew if I wanted a chance to win a Club national championship, Doublewide was going to be the team to get there!
Now practice is very different. On Doublewide, we have organized a team that has maybe half of its players actually located in Austin, Texas which is where we are based out of. The rest of the players are from outside cities or even states (like me). Because we are from all over the country, we would use about 1 weekend a month for everybody to drive or fly into town to practice on a weekend. And we would practice alllll weekend. Many hours. Because there was not much time, and we had to use our team efficiently to build chemistry together while we were all there, practice was very organized and structured. We would spend some time doing some drills, but I think the majority of our time we spent just straight playing ultimate together.
We had a good sense of who were Offensive players, and who were Defensive players, so we would just simulate games and try and get as many reps in as possible to practice playing with each other. We also practice what other teams like to do against us to try and beat us. Every team is different: on the mark, downfield cutting, offensive formations and flow, what throws they like to throw when they play against a zone, how much they like to huck, how many tall athletes or short ones they have etc. So, depending on the team, there is a lot of strategy to think about.
For example, there was a team this past season that, when the disc would get to a sideline when we were on offense, they would start off marking us "straight-up" to take away a big throw, then as the stall count got around 4-5 seconds, the mark would curl around behind the thrower and not allow the dump pass off while the defender guarding the dump would simultaneously take away the up line cut/space. So we practiced a specific dump cut to swoop directly behind the trapped sideline thrower to get the disc off and swung around safely.
We practice with a high intensity pretty much all the time. Everybody is super committed to being the best player they can be and getting our teammates to be the best they can be as well so we challenge each other and play really hard against each other.
Doublewide D and O Tactics - Like I mentioned before, depending on the team, the tactics always change.
Offensively, depending on the size, speed athleticism, and disc skills of the players on the opposing team, we will adjust our game plan. At least when dealing with the top 5-10 teams in the country. Beyond that, sometimes you can get away with just playing 1 style and strategy and getting away with a victory, but against the top teams, if you don't have a focused, unique and tailored strategy and game plan for that particular team to counter what those teams like to do best, then you are definitely putting your own team at a disadvantage.
Defensively peaking, strategy-wise, everything must be made difficult. "No easy buckets". On Doublewide we have a full roster of players (27?) and everybody plays defense. And especially if you are strictly a defensive player, you most definitely run as hard as you can until the point is over because there are plenty of subs to rotate in the next point once you get the lay out d and score to get the important break.
What we talk about in the huddle: We obviously discuss what we need to do better and where the other team is hurting us most. But, we also always point out what we are doing well or positive. We always like to have a positive mindset, no matter what the score, up or down, and we like to verbally recognize when we are doing certain things right and effectively in order to keep everybody doing those things for the rest of the game.
I am primarily a downfield defender and cutter because I am tall, fast and love trying to make big plays! The best thing I do on the field is lock down and play some tough defense!
My favorite throw is the “elevator” pass. I don’t ever throw it…but I used to in 2009 when I was still in college. It is so fun to throw! Only problem is, it is not a very smart throw to throw… (if you want to know what the “elevator” is, ask me at camp and I will show you…)
I wear #30. It is funny, I always grew up loving two numbers, #2, I wore in baseball because my favorite baseball player was Derek Jeter on the New York Yankees, and then in basketball my number was #30, because my favorite player was always Allen Iverson. Because I was more of a basketball lover, my “go-to” number was always #3. But when I got to college and started playing ultimate, my brother told me that our closest Uncle’s two lucky numbers are 20 & 30. Kurt was already #20, so he told me to just add a “0” to the end of my favorite number “3” and start wearing #30. It was an easy transition, so I did it!
I love salsa dancing, playing guitar, playing basketball, studying the stock market.
I work at Vitera Healthcare Solutions
My colleagues know that I play ultimate. They think it is very cool, but none of them actually know what the sport even looks like!
I have told many employers in job interviews, when they ask me what is the one thing I have experienced in my life, or in school, that has shaped me into the person I am today, I ALWAYS tell them about my ultimate Frisbee teams, and how the leadership roles I have had in the sport have helped me grow and learn how to motivate and inspire the people around me to achieve as much as I know they are capable of achieving.
God has given me a talent at playing ultimate that has allowed me to achieve the things I have achieved in this sport. Winning championships, and being a part of top level teams).
There is nothing I would love to do more, than to give back, and share my experience, and any knowledge I may have, to help others (whether they are in Russia or not – I do love Russia though!) to also have a chance of reaching their dreams and goals as aspiring ultimate Frisbee players no matter what age they may be.
Every time I go out to play ultimate, I see some kid throwing some throw, or making some cut, or making some big play that I probably have not seen before.
There is always something to learn even if it is from a 5 year old running around trying to play the sport!
I want to do a “one-bite challenge” during my visit to Russia!
What do I already know about Russia? I know that Russian Kate lives there.
I can’t wait to meet all of you and play some ultimate with all of you!
I am suuuuper darkhorse.