UAH Nightmares And The Growth Of The DIII Southeast

Two years ago, Georgia College went to Nationals uncontested. Now there are 15 teams vying for a spot out of the DIII Southeast.

uah nightmaresThe men’s Southeast Division III Men’s Region has been one of the most interesting of any division in the country. Just two seasons ago, barely any teams signed up for the series and when the Regionals location was selected, all but one team backed out, leaving Georgia College with a bid to Nationals without playing a single game.

Fast-forward to 2015. Conferences (effectively Regionals) begin tomorrow and the Southeast has 15 teams set to face off in Huntsville. Although not all of these teams have played this spring, the strong showing at Conferences should be encouraging for the Southeast and for the rest of the DIII nation.

The host team and 2-seed, Alabama-Huntsville Nightmares, is one of these teams that has stepped onto the scene and changed the dynamic of the region. UAH, in their first season as a team, finished the year ranked 20th in the nation and with a tournament win at Samford’s home tournament and a finals appearance at Music City. Although their competition wasn’t elite, the Nightmares won the games they needed to win and asserted themselves against the region.

“We were unknown last year because we didn’t exist,” said head coach Michael Robie. 
“One of the keys to the start of the team was the transfer of Tom Radcliffe from community college and Michael Delp from Alabama. These two, along with a few others, didn’t want to lose their college eligibility due to playing club. Tom, Delp, and Tannon Hedges recruited very hard in the fall to find committed student athletes.”

In particular, Robie credited Radcliffe for the development of the program. “The thing that really pushed UAH to actually forming a team and succeeding this year was the drive of Tom Radcliffe,” he said. “His constant push to make this team better and not accept lame reasons to miss practices and tournaments made everyone take this team seriously.”

The team has a small roster of Huntsville-area club players and understand that their style of play needs to conform to their limited numbers. “Three of our players played for Freaks Uv Nature at least one season while another four players played on Freaky Too. This base of experienced players helped us navigate through the beginning of the season,” said Robie.

“We live by the mantra “Dark Meat,” Robie continued. “When dark meat is put in the oven it cooks slow but when white meat is in the oven it will dry up and burn out quickly. Some ultimate players run really fast and jump really high but get gassed by the end of two or three games. Dark meat may not have be the fastest or have the best hops but they can go all day. This is dark versus white meat.”

With only one bid for the region, UAH will have to fight through the favorite, Georgia College, in order to pick up a spot at Nationals. I told Robie that the people were excited for the matchup but he says the team is only focused on their next game.

“They can look forward to it all they want, but if we don’t win the games before that, then we wont be playing in the finals. One game at a time!” said Robie. “If we can stay healthy through the tournament, then we will have no problems. The only reason we lost to UTC in the finals of Music City was due to injuries to Tom, Delp, and Eli earlier on Sunday in bracket play.”

We’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out who earns the bid from the suddenly contested Southeast. Regardless of who winds up in Rockford, the growth of Southeast conferences is promising for the sustained competition of the region as well as the state of DIII ultimate.

  1. Jesse Moskowitz
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    Jesse Moskowitz is the DIII editor for Ultiworld. Born and raised in Queens, New York, he started playing Ultimate at the Bronx High School of Science in 2008. He captained Connecticut College Dasein and currently plays Mixed Club with 7 Express (NYC). You can reach him by email at jesse@movoli.com.

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