Updated: Jul 3, 2018
Fashionably late to the party, Wellington Wildcats have just been enjoying a long pregame and are now ready to cut some sick shapes on the international Ultimate scene's proverbial dance floor. We sat down with spirit captain, Matt Dol, to get the lowdown on the team and their hopes for Cincinatti.
How is the squad looking?
This squad is missing some notable Wildcat names from the squad that took Colony to universe point in the final of 2017 Australian Ultimate Championships, and only has 6 returning Wildcats from WUCC 2014, however, has an impressive resume overall. From New Zealand representatives across all age divisions to players taking their first steps onto the world stage. With an age range from 17-41, this Wildcats roster has an exciting mix of fresh talent and experience.
The overall makeup of the team is 15 Wildcats (Wildcats based overseas), 7 players from other NZ clubs (Endeavour, Groot and Dogma), and 1 international pick-up.
Go on then, who's on the team?
Brandon Palmer (Coach)
Angus Hines (Captain)
Joseph Penaia (Captain)
Nick Pannu (Captain)
Matt Dol (Spirit Captain)
So what's your prep for WUCC been like?
Having a roster spread throughout the country, our preparation for worlds has made training as a squad tough and meant that we have to be very focused when we do have the opportunity to train together. We took advantage of the New Zealand Ultimate Summer Series and treated the Wellington and Auckland legs as training camps for the team, using them to solidify team structures and chemistry against a variety of New Zealand oppositions and playing styles.
Players were encouraged to play for their local clubs for the New Zealand Ultimate Championships. The North Island based Wildcats played on a small roster that was filled out with Wildcats who have been selected for Katipo, the New Zealand U20 Men’s team, and are currently training for the World Junior Ultimate Championships taking place in Canada later this year. The Christchurch based Wildcats played for their local club, Dogma.
The Australian Ultimate Championships allowed most of our New Zealand based roster to get valuable high level game time against the best men’s teams in Australia. While we didn’t place as high as we were hoping to, the growth and development we got out of the tournament were immense.
With the end of the tournament season ending and winter getting underway we’ve had 3 weekend training camps in Wellington. The weather and field conditions haven’t always been the best, but the camps have helped develop the bond and the culture of the team, while refining our arsenal and pushing each other.
Pre-tournament we will be touring Minneapolis, Madison and Chicago for the first time as a full squad and playing against local teams. The team are looking forward to hitting the ground running and testing ourselves before it’s show-time in Cincinnati.
What sort of culture is the team trying to bring to WUCC?
The big focuses for us as a team are definitely best effort at all times, communication and spirit. The culture that we’ve built so far over this campaign is one of always putting in the best effort on and off the field for ourselves and our team, communicating positively (with plenty of banter) and setting a high standard of Spirit of the Game for ourselves and our country.
In recent years New Zealand Ultimate has become pretty well known for being highly spirited. This is not just due to Kiwis having a pretty chill culture in general. It has taken a large amount of focus, community conversations, interpretations of the rules of Ultimate, and most importantly, buy in from players across all levels from grassroots all the way through to our worlds level players.
The Wildcats are definitely on board with this and have been actively discussing and working on areas we think we can improve on, while upholding ourselves to areas we believe we perform well in. For this team Spirit of the Game isn’t just a second thought, it’s an active part of the way we train and the way we play.
The pools are now set for WUCC, any thoughts on your draw?
The team are excited with the variety of teams we will get to play in the initial pools stages, not to mention chance to go up against Revolver if we manage to finish in the top two of our pool.
Bad Skid are looking hot with the likes of the Beuttenmüller brothers as well as a lot of Germany’s top end talent. Also notably, with Buzz Bullets missing, Nomadic Tribe are stepping up to fill the shoes as Japan’s best men’s team and will be the first time the Wildcats have gone up against the Japanese style of play.
Looking through to the second set of pool play we’re looking forward to the possibility of rematches against Euforia and Mooncatchers, who got the better of us at the 2014 World Ultimate Club Championships, and of course the chance to put our full roster against Hot Chilly who took us out in pool play at the 2018 Australian Ultimate Championships.