Texas Showdown had another year of roster turnover and a losing record at the 2015 US Open. Can the team make a deep Nationals run after a slow regular season start like they have in years past?
July 23, 2015 by Nina Fogel in Preview with 0 comments
Last year, Austin Showdown was written off early in the season because of the significant amount of turnover they faced in the offseason. Yet, as an underdog going into the 2014 Club Championships, Texas made an impressive run, breaking seed and losing by only two points to the highly favored Boston Brute Squad.
But it’s a new year, and once again they enter the season with a new group of personnel. They’ve lost 13 players, including their captain Shereen Rabie and stat leaders Mariel Hammond and Christina Contreras. The question remains the same: can Showdown make another run, despite a new-look roster?
New Team, Same Texas Toughness
What this team lacks in name recognition and player accolades, they make up for in grit and determination. They’ve already battled the Texas heat and rain to easily win Texas Two Finger.
Their first tournament of high-level competitive play was the U.S. Open, where they beat Schwa (12-9) but lost their other five games—including a double game point loss, 13-14, to Heist. Sitting at No. 10 in the Ultiworld power rankings, Showdown has a lot to prove this year.
But they’ve shown that they can compete, even when winning wasn’t their first priority. Showdown had no results-oriented goals going into the U.S. Open. “We have all the talent to win a championship, but our first priority is to build a cohesive team that wins together,” said captain Julie Malecek. At the tournament, captain Janel Venzant and rookie Anna Meyers were dominant on the field, especially because Rebecca ‘Bex’ Forth, Tina Woodings and Sarah Levinn were all missing, as was assistant coach Sean McCall.
The team needs talented veterans to step into new roles as leaders, while relying on major contributions from their big three players: Levinn, Bex Forth, and her twin sister, Katey Forth. These players have the task of not only leading the team on the field but being a bridge between the old and new. But, as Malecek said, “A handful of players playing hero-ball isn’t a recipe for making it through a long tournament like USAU Nationals.”
Diamonds In The Rough
The team’s departures are being replaced with talented new faces. From the mixed division, Showdown grabbed Andrea Crumrine, Erin Schran, and Jen Schmerling. From their feeder team, Houston Inferno, they picked up Anna Meyers, Elise Ruffin, and Michelle and Laura Landis, as well as the productive Andrea Esparza from Texas Melee.
There’s a sense that this team is cobbled together and still has a lot of learning to do. On the topic of rookies, Malecek said, “There always seem to be players whom we have never heard of, often from small towns that we’ve never heard of, who come out and show us that they deserve a spot on the roster. We did manage to bring in a few great throwers…and we stumbled upon a few really fast women who will have no problem making the jump to elite club.”
Trials of a Texan
Everything is bigger in Texas and togetherness is an added challenge for Showdown. Despite being based in Austin, only half of the roster lives in the city. Showdown is the only nationally competitive women’s team in the area, so a lot of the members travel between 2.5 and 5 hours to attend practice. To accommodate, the team has six hour practices on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as sessions during the week based on geography. The team simply has to take advantage of the time they have together.
Showdown also has a new coach, Adam Goff, formerly of New York BENT. A recent transplant to Austin, Goff brings experience and wisdom to a relatively young team. “He brings a balance to the team because his coaching style is about playing to individual players’ advantages,” said Malecek. Despite his experience, Texas’s new leader knows he has a learning curve. “As a rookie coach with this team, any opportunity to learn the team and the players and face real competition is good,” Goff told Ultiworld.
Showdown is facing an uphill battle. They have a new team, new captains, and a new coach. They still haven’t played a tournament with a full roster this season. Showdown has the potential to have another great run like they did last year, but it’s still a wait-and-see on how much the past success of the departed can inspire this current generation.
Before the series, Showdown will participate in the Pro-Elite Challenge and Pro Flight Finale.