Interview with Jimmy and Chris on their move to Australia
By Helen Epstein
Helen Epstein sat down with Jimmy Mickle and Chris Kocher to chat a little about the recent US Club season and their expectations coming to Australia
In 2018, two of the world’s best ultimate players are coming to Sydney for the Nationals season and will join Colony for the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jimmy Mickle and Chris Kocher both represented the USA at the World Games in Poland in 2017. Jimmy is from Boulder, Colorado and plays for Johnny Bravo in the club season and the Dallas Roughnecks for AUDL, while Chris hails from New York, captaining PoNY and playing for New York Empire in AUDL. We sat down for a quick chat about all things ultimate (and kangaroos).
Helen: Hey guys, welcome to Australia! We are really excited to have you. First of all, tell us how you guys met!
Jimmy: We first met playing Junior Worlds in 2010.
Chris: He was an alternate [reserve] on that team and got called up to play at the last minute. I think I was sceptical of Jimmy at first, and I think we were kinda close that year, but I think we became much closer when we played NexGen together in 2012. Kevin Minderhout asked a bunch of college players to play on this team that drove around and played in different cities in the United States. Jimmy was one of the first, he was on all three years, I was only on the second two.
Jimmy: Yeah, we basically spent a month together on a bus, playing frisbee for two summers, that’s probably when we got the closest. Played on the Worlds team in London in 2016, and then World Games this summer as well, so there’s been a consecutive number of years where we’ve spent the majority of the summer together, so we’ve got definitely pretty close through that.
Helen: So what made you want to come to Sydney?
Jimmy: Well, for me personally, a big thing I was looking to do was play more ultimate. Sydney is not only a spot with good ultimate, but a season that goes on when there’s not a club season going on in the states. So it kinda made sense from that point of view, and then Cupcake, Tom Tulett who plays on Colony, came and played on Bravo for the last two seasons, so I felt a little bit of a connection to Australian Ultimate through that. I got to see how he operated and what Australian ultimate had to bring over to the states - lots of ideas - and I wanted to kinda go and immerse myself in that society as well.
Chris: Yeah I studied abroad in Australia in my junior year of college. I was in Brisbane and the gold coast. I never actually made it to Sydney, so I decided to come! It all sort of worked out with having a club season that’s different to the club season in the US, and having played against a bunch of the Colony players, I’m excited to play with them this year.
Helen: So neither of your club teams have qualified for World Clubs this year. I know it was a bit of a different Nationals season this year and a bit of a difficult Nationals. What are your reflections on your Nationals seasons in your clubs?
Jimmy: For me personally, it was definitely a season with ups and downs. Following last year where we over-achieved, I think we came into this year with high expectations, and with that definitely brings some new challenges. Definitely a really fun year, but yeah disappointed in how we played at Nationals. I’ve played for long enough that I’ve played on lots of teams that have done well and lots of teams that have done poorly, so it’s always a bit of a crapshoot when you get to Nationals and you try to give yourself the best chance. It was definitely a bit of a disappointment. But I’m excited to get playing again.
Chris: For us, we made quarters for the first time in PoNY’s history. We had hopes of doing better obviously, I think it was important for us to get over that hump of winning a pre-quarters game, and I think sort of somewhat along the same lines as Jimmy, there were ups and downs in the season. I think we did a pretty good job of gradually getting better each tournament, and so we were happy with how we did at Nationals. Definitely satisfied about the way we played for the most part.
Helen: Do you guys do any wild training things in the lead up to tournaments, like diets? I know Jimmy loves Pilates…
Jimmy: Yeah, this year was a little different because of World Games, AUDL and everything, it felt like it was hard to peak multiple different times. I think Chris and I put a lot of our energy into being ready for World Games at the end of the summer, and we only had a little bit of time off, a little bit of time to feel the burnout, and then a last six-week push for club season. My regimen didn’t change that much from before World Games to club Nationals but it was more of … just trying to stay healthy, and stay on the field. But yeah I’m definitely a big fan of Pilates! I don’t get to do it as much as I would like, like when I was down in Dallas, but yeah highly recommend.
Chris: I think Jimmy and I had a similar experience, where we were trying to peak for World Games, and then coming back, having a little bit of a dip, and then trying to peak again for Nationals. For me, it was a lot of trying to make sure I didn’t get injured, so I spent a lot of time stretching and rolling. Something I started doing on the advice of Grant, who is one of our teammates, is acupuncture, so I started going to an acupuncturist before tournaments and before Nationals, so I did that probably four times, between right before World Games and Nationals. I don’t know exactly how it helped me, but I didn’t get hurt in any of those tournaments, so… it’s something I think I’ll continue to do.
Helen: What are your thoughts on men’s versus mixed, and the Australian model of having both season in the year?
Chris: I mean, I think it’s pretty sweet there’s two seasons and you get the chance to play both, I think a lot of players in the US would play mixed if it was in a separate season from open or women’s. I mean, there might be some pushback on that, and there’s definitely lots of exceptions on this. But I think top level players tend to play open and women’s, and if there were two seasons I think the majority of people would play mixed. I think it would make both seasons more competitive, because I imagine the top players would be playing mixed.
Jimmy: Yeah, I feel the same way. I wish we had a separate season where we could play both. World Games was the first high-level mixed team I’ve been a part of. It was a really great experience to get to play with people I’ve never played with before. I was a big fan of it, and I hope I get to do more of it!
Helen: Which ultimate player would you like to play with who you’ve never played with?
Chris: I actually thought about this because Jimmy sent me some of the questions. I’ve only played against him once I think, but I think it’d be super fun to play with Matsuno, because he has a different style than I’ve ever played with, and he’s obviously a really incredible player. Someone else I would’ve loved to play with was Miranda Roth. She went to my high school and I just heard a lot about her, and I’ve had the chance to watch her coach, and she works at Paideia (Chris’s high school in Atlanta, Georgia which has spawned many an ultimate legend). I think it would’ve been fun to play with her in her prime as well.
Jimmy: I’ve been fortunate to get to play with a lot of good players, but I guess someone I’ve never really gotten to play with is Kevin Underhill, who’s on the Canadian World Games team. I’ve played against him my whole career, but would definitely want to play with him. As far as Australian players, it would be pretty fun to play with the Phillips sisters too!
Helen: What is the weirdest thing that you’ve heard about Australia?
Jimmy: I saw some video of some tourist that got attacked by a crocodile in Australia, and I definitely second-guessed my plans! But yeah heard mostly about deadly animals, it’s definitely terrifying. So I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending outside. I’ve also seen Australians drink, that’s pretty terrifying as well! I’m hoping I come back alive.
Chris: I remember when I was studying in Australia, there’s different slang or lingo that I wasn’t accustomed to. Like what do you say when you see someone, and you’re like “how are you?”, you say “how are you going?”
Jimmy: it’s “How you going?”
Chris: “How you going”, yeah, for the first like month in Australia, I did not understand it. I was like “I dunno, I’m going?” And I think, eating kangaroo, I didn’t really know about that until I went there. We ate it a lot when I was over there.
Jimmy: Oh goodness.
Helen: So you guys are locked in for Colony for World Clubs?
Chris: I mean, I think so?
Jimmy: We’re gonna play with Colony. Unless a better offer comes along or something. Just kidding. We’re gonna play the season with Colony and then play Clubs with them as well.
Chris: Honestly it would be super helpful if you knew a place we could stay.
Jimmy: Yeah we haven’t organised anything. We just booked flights. We figure it’s gonna work itself out.
Helen: Sweet, thanks for your time guys! Look forward to seeing you in Sydney in January!