Texas Showdown: 2014 Season Preview

Texas Showdown is losing some big name stars including Cara Crouch, but are reloading with young talent as they prepare for the World Club Championships and beyond.

Photo by Christina Schmidt – UltiPhotos

Seattle Riot. San Francisco Fury. DC Scandal. The top teams from Club nationals last year represent cities from all corners of the U.S.

Showdown represents an entire state. And not just any state; at Worlds in August, they’re representing Texas, a state so proud that they have their own waffles and their own beer. Women travel from all over the state to play on Showdown, forcing their team to develop a unique chemistry that highlights each players’ talents and weaves them together. 

“We’re a gritty team that has a lot of heart,” Rabie says, “We play to the athleticism that’s on our roster and we’re relentless in our speed and defensive play.”

They have a hefty plate of expectations after they launched a parade of upsets yet again over Vancouver Traffic and Chicago Nemesis to place 4th after entering the tournament seeded 9th. This semifinals success granted them coveted seats on a plane to Italy this summer, and a reputation for reaching their team’s fullest potential when it counts.

The Changing of the Guard

While the Showdown of 2014 will emerge from the kernels of last year’s structure and last year’s glory, the pieces will fit together in new ways.

“We’ve got a much different team this year than we did at last year’s Nationals.” Captain Shereen Rabie says, “We’re losing some of our older vets, like Cara Crouch, Holly Greunke, and Sarah Blyth.” Ultimate can be life for a long time, but at some point for all of us, life can’t be all Ultimate. Many of Showdown’s most dangerous playmakers are moving on this year, and despite Crouch and Blyth joining their Worlds roster, Showdown has a new deck to sort this season.

The loss of Crouch’s presence on the field will have to change Showdown’s game in particular. She often took over entire points at last year’s Nationals on a team designed to let its stars shine. Her forceful cutting and her skillful throws made her an undeniable offensive threat whose loss Showdown will have to address this season. Sarah Blyth was also an integral cog for Showdown’s rhythm last year, and her reliability and experience surrounding the disc added a necessary base for Showdown that they will have to rebuild.

Showdown’s armory of fast, intrepid midfield playmakers will return: the Forth twins — Bex and Katey; Diana Charrier; Christina Contreras; and Janel Venzant carry the Showdown torch, and they will establish a much-needed infrastructure for the young team. Diana Charrier, the youngest player on Showdown last year, has the chance to play the veteran for their defensive line. Katey Forth could step into Crouch’s shoes with her offensive initiative and her field sense as well.

But Showdown’s unique strategy for their season’s development means that they’ll take their time rebuilding. “[Last year] we learned a lot about being patient with our development,” Rabie recalled. “We’ll try to replicate that same energy this year. We’re looking to foster some break out talent and compete against the other top teams in the country.”

The Young Talent

Texas Showdown snagged some breakout talent, indeed. They gain high-level experience and athleticism in Kimber Coles, who brings elite pedigree from an Oregon Fugue national title and a season with Portland Schwa. They nabbed Kayla Ramirez and Lauren McKenna from Texas Melee, as well as U23 Worlds player Julie Malecek who played for Brute Squad last year.

Finally, Showdown picked up a low key duo from Florida this year that may get some playing time this season. You may have heard of them: Sunny Harris and Mariel Hammond. The two players most notorious for imposing their will on the college game at Central Florida will move together into the Club realm to make their mark on a team known for utilizing individual players’ skills. Harris and Hammond will have to find new roles on a team not designed by Joe Tilley to fit their specific skill sets, but wherever they fit on Showdown, they will wreak havoc.

The Outlook

Showdown now has the youngest team out of the 2013 semifinalists, but they don’t have the opportunity to take the slow burn approach this season. They will have to peak at WUCC and then rally again for the Club Series.

Will Showdown make any significant adjustments this year to accommodate their fresh-faced roster, to address their weak points? When asked, Rabie simply demurred, “We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve.”

We wouldn’t expect any less from Texas.

  1. Katie Raynolds
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    Katie Raynolds took a break from Seattle ultimate to test out the Midwestern scene, but now she's back in the Northwest to investigate this "bubble" she keeps hearing about. She played for Northwestern Gungho, two seasons with Chicago Nemesis, and now plays for Seattle Underground. Katie serves as Ultiworld's Women's D1 College Editor, and is damn proud to cover women's ultimate. You can reach her by email (katie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@kraynolds90).

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