Q&A with 2nd year Breeze player Anthony McLean
When did you start playing Ultimate and how did you get involved with the sport?
I started playing Ultimate in 2011 during my freshman year of college at George Mason University. I was throwing around a football on campus when some Ultimate players asked if I wanted to attend their open practice. I had never played before, so I was not sure what to expect. As the year progressed, I definitely enjoyed playing with the team, but wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit more than a season. The captains convinced me otherwise, and I decided to continue playing the following fall. Fast forward four years, and here I am playing my second season with the Breeze!
Can you name a few flashpoints in your growth as an Ultimate player?
The first club tournament that I had attended was Bell Crack in Pennsylvania with BITMAP. It was a learning experience for me. Playing against non-college players made it obvious that I had to develop a number of aspects of my game. I was able to work on portions of my game throughout the rest of the season. I would also have to say attending Club Nationals last year with Ambiguously Grey was a flashpoint in my Ultimate career. Our team motto is to give 100% for your teammates, and as the Series approached, we knew our results were not indicative of a Nationals appearance. We rallied around each other and made the necessary steps to achieve a Regional Championship, as well as an incredible performance at Nationals. We proved to ourselves that we could defy odds and be successful.
Describe your focus during the off season. What have you been working specifically on to improve as a player?
My focus for this past off season was mainly about taking care of myself, physically and mentally. I played a ridiculous amount of Ultimate in 2015, which included my last season with George Mason, the 2015 Breeze season, WAFC 6-on-6 Summer League, a few tournaments with friends from Philly, and an entire club season with Ambiguously Grey all the way through Nationals. After the season ended, I wanted some time to myself to refocus to create some goals heading into 2016 and beyond.
I began to stretch a decent amount in the off-season to ease some lingering injuries, and also did my best to avoid playing highly competitive Ultimate to allow my body to relax. Especially playing at this level of Ultimate, I think it’s equally important to focus on personal well-being in addition to the throws, athleticism, and catching ability. I have already noticed a positive change in my playing style compared to last season, so I am looking forward to the rest of this season!
What’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a player? as a teammate?
I have to agree with Chuck on this. Remembering to continually put on sunscreen is a true challenge as a player. A challenge as a teammate is to not fall asleep in the car ride home to help keep the driver awake.
What are some of your goals for the 2016 season with the Breeze?
One of my goals is to continually improve through the season in my own personal game, and to improve as a team. With the caliber of our roster, an accoladed coaching staff, and awesome team management, it’s great knowing that improvement is possible.
Another one of my goals for the 2016 season is to place higher on the AUDL’s Top Plays of the Week. In the 2015 season, I placed 19 on the top 25 for a layout score against Philly and I would love to place higher!
What’s something that you admire about one of your Breeze teammates?
I admire the work ethic of Andrew Allen. I’ve had the pleasure of being his teammate on both the Breeze and Ambiguously Grey, and he continues to outwork any opposing player. He’s also a great defensive role model as he can jump to compete in the air, and also continually prevents his man from getting the disc while on the ground. Overall, he is an outstanding player!
What throw have you had to work on the most over your Ultimate career?
The lefty backhand. Although, after watching Bob throw three 40+ yard hucks with his left, mine need some work.
Who has most influenced you in the Ultimate community and why?
After thinking about it, I don’t think I could name just one person. I would say I have four major influences to my Ultimate career, two of which are from my college career, and two are from my club career.
From my college career, those two are Daniel Kantor and Dave Berg: Kantor was the coach of George Mason’s Ultimate team during my freshman, sophomore, and junior year. Berg was one of the captains during those same years. They had the most influence on my college career because they helped lead the team to our first two Regionals appearances in program history, which was an outstanding accomplishment when you consider that we only had 16 players attend Sectionals my freshman year. Kantor and Berg also spent time developing players individually, so their advice and support were always greatly appreciated.
From my club career, the influence comes from two of my first club team captains in 2013 – Dave Kiefer and Alex “Goldy” Goldstein. After my sophomore year of college I was looking to play on a club team during the summer. In being from South Jersey, Ultimate was mostly non-existent, so I began my search to play in Philly. After doing some research, I was given the contact information for a second year mixed team called BITMAP. Just like my first year of college Ultimate, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I appreciated Dave’s and Goldy’s patience throughout my tryout process with the team, especially since I had to miss the first practice because I couldn’t find the fields… awkwarddd. Dave and Goldy also introduced me to a good amount of players in the community, so that opened up new opportunities to play in summer leagues and small events, like hat tournaments. I continued to get better at playing Ultimate through my two seasons with BITMAP, and I can not thank Dave, Goldy, and the rest of the team for helping me become the player I am today.
What’s your favorite post-game meal?
If I had any option, I would want chicken alfredo (which is pronounced Papa John’s Pizza). I also have to say my favorite post-game drink is chocolate milk. After any workout, practice or game, the first thing I go for is chocolate milk.
In which ways are you involved in the DC Ultimate community? What’s unique about the DMV Ultimate scene in your eyes?
Like most players, I have participated in WAFC leagues. I currently live outside of the city, so I have been participating in the Fairfax Ultimate League more recently. I also play on Ambiguously Grey, which is DC’s elite Mixed team. This will be my second season with them, and my first season as one of the captains. Added bonus: I was on Kerrigan’s team when we won the 6 Months to Wildwood tournament this past February! Outside of the immediate DC Ultimate community, I am the social media manager for the Ultimate-focused photography company UltiPhotos.
In my opinion, the most unique aspect of the DC Ultimate scene is the talent level. There are not many cities that have 3 top-half finishers at Club Nationals, which means that our talent level is continuing to grow every year. There is a steady increase of players looking to compete at higher levels, and that is quite remarkable. For example, Ambiguously Grey had over 100 people express interest in tryouts this season, and that did not include returners!
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer