Mac Taylor

Written by Baritsa on . Posted in Coaches

Revolver #40

Introduction

Russian Kate (??):

This introduction story is the shortest and the article is the biggest one! (no kidding!)

After one game at Nationals 2012 I talked to Robbie Cahill and Mark Sherwood (both from Revolver). Those two guys persuaded me to organize this Camp couple of month ago and then changed their minds and refused to come… What?! 

- Well, if you refuse to come, give me the equal substitute! – I said to Robbie. 

He thought literally two seconds. 

- Mac! Mac Taylor! – Robbie grabbed guy, who went by, - Would you like to come to Moscow camp? 

- Sure, - said Mac.

Superb! If everything could be so easy! 

And that’s all :) 

After that we just wrote couple of confirmation emails and we’ve got perfect and unstoppable Mac Taylor. 

He sent me this amazing interview in a month, but it definitely worth to wait. 

Here we go!

 

 

 

It is not clear if Mac Taylor is actually human.  He excels at every part of ultimate - throwing, receiving, defending, and partying.  If he throws a huck that is not caught, it is the receiver's fault for not being as good as Mac.

If he swoops on your date at a party, it is your fault for not looking as good or dancing as well as Mac.  But like most immortals, Mac doesn't gloat.  He carries himself with a quiet dignity, waiting patiently for a real challenge.

Josh Wiseman, Revolver #6, friend and teammate

 

 


 

Biography info:  

  • Date of birth - December 24th, 1985
  • Place of birth - Phoenix, Arizona (USA)
  • Height - 6’3” (1.90 meters)
  • Weight - 185 lbs (84 kg)
  • University - University of Colorado at Boulder (Frisbee team - Mamabird)

 

My earliest memory of a Frisbee is from when I was maybe 10 years old. I think my dad bought one at the sports store, or we found an old one in the attic, and we went out in the front yard to toss it around. I couldn’t make the damn thing fly flat for 20 feet, and after a couple dozen throws I lost interest, and back in the attic it went.

Years later, in the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I went to a summer camp with some friends. A couple times during the week a pick-up game of ultimate would start up. The field was probably half the size of a regulation field, and as many people as wanted to play would jump on the field at the same time – games were usually something like 15 people on each side, and it was just madness. Hardly anyone new the rules and less people followed them. I remember on one particular day, there was a cross wind, and it seemed I was the only person that figured that out. I could stand on one sideline, and whenever someone threw a big, floaty throw that got caught in the wind, I was there to clean up the garbage. I probably caught a dozen passes, followed I’m sure by a dozen turnovers (but that didn’t matter), and thought I was the shit.

After the camp, my friends and I brought the game back home, and started getting pick-up games together after school. Slowly we learned to throw, learned some rules, and eventually started wearing cleats. I found a pick-up game with more experience downtown, and would go with a couple friends to that every Saturday morning. A guy there invited me to play on his league team once, as they were short a few players, and so I played my first actual game. In the summer before going to college, I entered my group of friends into the league. We were a group of 16-18 year old track runners and soccer players that didn’t really know what we were doing with a Frisbee, but the competition was middle-aged men and women looking for exercise once a week. We took great pride in winning the league that year. 

So by the time I got to college, I thought I was something pretty special with a Frisbee. I didn’t know it when I decided to go to CU Boulder, but it was a happy coincidence that CU had (and still has) one of the finest Frisbee programs in the nation. They had won the national title the year before I arrived. I played tennis and soccer in high school, never to much success, and saw Ultimate as an opportunity to keep playing sports at a competitive level, and maybe be on a winning team. So I went to the first practices and tryouts.

After combined practices for the Fall semester, A/B splits were made, and I found myself on the B team. I wasn't surprised, as there were plenty of freshmen better than me.

I quickly found out I was nothing special with a Frisbee, or as an athlete. I wasn’t fast, didn’t have endurance, could hardly throw a flick, and didn’t know a dime about strategy. But as I said, Mamabird is one of the best programs in the nation and had some outstanding leadership and coaching that I could learn from. I spent the better part of my first year on the B team, before getting moved up to the A team for the end of the season. 

I took over co-captaining the B-team a few weeks in, and went to a handful of tournaments throughout the Spring. In those 4-5 months, I improved dramatically. We'd drive to neighboring states to play tier 2 or 3 college A teams, so I was constantly competing against players better than me (and getting beat more often than not). On offense, I'd get tons of reps cutting and touching the disc. We had a small squad so I got plenty of play time. The motivation was there (make the A team), and the path was clear - work hard, show dedication, learn from instruction, show improvement.

The coaches took notice of the effort and improvement, and I was invited to Centex for an A-team tryout Spring of my freshman year. I played well enough that tournament to get moved up. 

 

Our B team was definitely built as a feeder for your A team. 

The biggest lesson learned from being on the B team was that even though playing B team may be a slight to your pride, it's probably more beneficial to your growth as a player. I think my time on the B team sling-shotted past the guys my year at Colorado who made the A team right off the bat. I wasn't playing the caliber games the A team freshman were playing, but I was playing four times as many points, touching the disc four times as often, getting beat, doinking passes, and throwing the disc away innumerable times. Early on, experience is most important to improving. This was invaluable experience.

 

The intensity between A and B team practices was most notable. On the B team, the focus was on improving your skill set and learning through trial and error. A-team practices were about competition and excellence. Every point or drill was an opportunity to go head-to-head against your match-up, and players took those mini-competitions seriously.

My first two years on the team I wasn’t significant – I was too damn slow. But I put in work in the weight room and on the track before my Junior year, grew into my body a bit, and gained some speed, which made all the difference in the world. This was the first year I started making an impact, and the following Fall I joined Johnny Bravo.

 

As a captain on the B-team, my role was mainly figuring logistics of tournaments like transportation and hotels. The tournaments we went to were already established by tradition or picked by the coaches (either the two A-team coaches, or our B-team coach). When I was captain of the A team my senior and super-senior years, I took on more responsibility including choosing which tournaments we'd attend and setting up scrimmages against Johnny Bravo (the club team from Denver/Boulder I played on concurrently). I'd also lead introductory weight-lifting sessions for the new guys, who like me, were coming to college skinny, weak, and not yet comfortable in their full-grown bodies. 

I joint Revolver in 2009, after moving to San Francisco after graduation.

I had played with Beau Kittredge and Martin Cochran in college, who were both already living in San Francisco and committed to Revolver. Martin had already played a year on Revolver, and spoke highly of them. I’d played against most of the guys before, some in college, and the rest in club. They seemed like a decent bunch. 

 

A quick story about switching from Bravo to Revolver.

In the 2008 season, the second (and last) season I played Bravo before moving to SF, we played Revolver in power-pools at nationals. It was a good game, and we (Bravo) were leading at the end, something like 14-10. Revolver rallied their troops though, made some big plays, and won the game on double game point.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that story retold since joining Revolver. Sometimes it’s told to remind Beau and me of that time the older Revolver guys beat us (though Bravo finished higher at Nationals that year), but more often it’s recounted as a sort of rallying cry. Like, “Remember that game at nationals when we were down and about out, but we put our heart in to it and came back and won? Let’s do it again!” 

That game is probably the most fortuitous game I’ve lost due to the positive impact it had on the winning team, which I would soon join. 

There are a couple of my favorite tournaments:

Nationals my first year in college was one. I moved up to the A team my freshman year in time for the series. Mamabird lost in the finals that year on double-game point to Brown University.

Still, though I've lost many more finals since then, this is one of my most poignant losses. I wasn't good then - I was fortunate enough to play two or three points in the game – and I had no impact on the game. The frustration of losing a close game like that, without having any power to affect the outcome, motivated me for years to improve, so that I might have a say in future losses ;) 

In 2010 Revolver was one of 5 teams from the US that went to Prague, Czech Republic to compete in Club Worlds, and it was a blast. The tournament lasted a week, and we played numerous countries at varying skill levels. There was also sufficient down time to explore the city, drink the delicious beers, and party with the other teams. It was also the first gold metal I won. Having lost five Nationals finals games already (three in college, one with Bravo, one with Revolver), it was amazing and such a relief to win one, and a World championship no less.

Worlds in Prague was amazing. It was so much more than just a Frisbee tournament. It was a week of hanging out with close friends and teammates, seeing a new country, and the first time I won a championship. Afterwards I travelled with some of the guys around the Italian Alps and Switzerland. 

This last July 2012, having won US nationals the year before (2011), Revolver earned the right to represent the US at WUGC 2012. This tournament was even more fun than Prague, as we were the US’s sole representation (in the open division) and got to call ourselves Team USA. Winning was equally sweet, and traveling around Japan before and after was a treat.

 

Finally, Potlatch 2011 was a blast. At the same time as the regular mixed tournament, there was a college reunion tournament going on (The Big Muckamuck). It was awesome playing with old college teammates, and some younger and older ones I hadn’t played with. It was also a ton of Frisbee over the course of three days, playing essentially two tournaments in one weekend. Mamabird ended up losing in the finals to Wisconsin (damn them!), but the Colorado/Wisconsin mixed team (Rodeo Clowns) I played on won the regular Potlatch tournament. 

I play on the defense. I prefer to cover downfield cutters, forcing my mark away from the disc and tempting the other team to huck it to him so I can try and get a D in the air. Lately on Revolver, I’ve covered handler types where my lanky mark is useful, and I generally have a height and speed mismatch once we get the turnover, so I can run deep and score.

 

I don’t play on the offense anymore because I take too many risks with my throws. A liability on the offense, but more useful to the D-line.

I have good field awareness on defense. I am able to position myself relative to the thrower and my cutter so I end up running a lot less than the guy I’m marking, while also poaching and making the field looked more congested.

 

My favorite throws are the inside-out break backhand, or flick huck.

My greatest achievement in ultimate is that I have never lost a game at sectionals, regionals, or pool play at nationals, in college or club.

My final season in college I got second in the Callahan (college MVP award). As a sort of consolation, we beat the winner of the Callahan in Quarterfinals that same day (take that!). We went on to lose in the final. I seem to finish second place a lot more often than first.

I wear #40. 

I had been #8 in soccer growing up, and requested the number in college. When jerseys were delivered, however, there was no #8, but an unrequested set of #40 jerseys. I took what was there, have been #40 ever since, and am quite pleased with it. As it turns out, some (but not all) of the notable big men from Colorado had numbers as multiples of 10 (#10 Adam “Chicken” Simon, #20 Josh “Richter” Ackley, #30 Hylke Sneider, #40 me, #50 Beau Kittredge, #60 Jolian Dahl). I’ve been asked how this came to be. As far as I know, it was just a coincidence.

What else do I do apart form playing ultimate? 

I’ve recently gotten into rock climbing. I’m really into board games. I enjoy relaxing and doing nothing more than the average person.

I’m a math and Physics teacher at a small, alternative secondary school in downtown San Francisco.

My colleagues know that I play ultimate, and they think it’s pretty cool. I have Frisbees haning around my classroom at school. They always ask how the last tournament was, or where I’ll be traveling to next (they’re pretty impressed I’m going to Russia).

 

Ultimate helps me in everyday life. Enormously. Frisbee has opened up so many different avenues for me professionally and socially, it’s amazing. It’s incredible to be able to move to a new city and instantly have a huge group of friendly people you have something in common with. It makes it so easy to meet new friends – some of which have helped me find employment.

I do have coaching experience. Well, I’m a high school teacher, so there’s that. I’ve also been a coach at the “National Ultimate Training Camp”, a summer camp for advanced high school Ultimate players.

I learn the philosophies of other coaches at the camps. I always thought I had the best coaches and training at Colorado (and still do), but hearing from other coaches has broadened my perspective, and given me a more complete, well rounded game.

I want to take part in Russian Camps because it’s a free trip to Russia, and while I’m there I get to play and teach Ultimate, which I love!

I want to do everything Russian during my trip. I don’t have many preconceived notions of what Russia will be like, except to expect abundant cold and vodka. I want to see what Russia is all about, get a sense of your culture, eat all your food, and see as much of the country as I can. Though I know it’s a very large country and I’ll only get to see a fraction of it.

What else? 

I’m relatively introverted, but don’t take that as a sign that I don’t want to meet and talk to you! Please come up and introduce yourself, as I may be too overwhelmed by all the new faces and new things (not to mention the language barrier) to approach you.

 

From an article on SkyD: 

That’s just how Mac is.  He’s an introvert and typically keeps to himself, a quiet individual. He claims this is stemmed from his father.  When Mac was young some advice he received was, “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  Mac believes he took this advice just a bit too seriously and that’s why he is the way he is: serious.

Mac is takes his ultimate very seriously.  Actually, Mac takes everything seriously. Generally, when you learn about someone who takes everything seriously the first think that comes to mind is the girl from elementary school with the infamous title of  “teacher’s pet.”  The girl who makes sure no one is having fun while she dominates the whole class in times tables and reading aloud.  This is not Mac.  Mac takes his relaxing seriously.  Mac takes his having fun seriously.   If you wander over to Revolver’s website and read Mac’s profile it says that if he wasn’t playing ultimate he’d be “Couch sittin’, movie watchin’, beer drinkin.’”  He does all of those things with gusto.


 

I feel like I’ve already written a novel!

 

See you soon on the fields! 

Mac Taylor, 
Revolver #40