In 2020 the former headcoaches of AUT Women resigned and the Austrian Federation reached out within Europe for a new headcoach for both the womens adult and the u24 nationalteam. One of the main goals was to further support the trend of professionalisation of ultimate, therefore looking for expertise and knowledge. Another aspect that was widely discussed in the womens ultimate scene beforehand, was openness – openness for change in leadership and composition of players from different teams. Out of these points, to name a few, the new head coaches were selected.

With Nathalie and Allen, who can look back on decades of playing and coaching in high level ultimate, we are happy to enter into a new 4 year cycle of Austrian women’s ultimate.

Allen and Nathalie started playing in 1997 and 1998 respectively at Princeton University.  They subsequently played at the University of British Columbia in 2002 and with Freak Show (Singapore Mixed) at WUCC 2002.  From 2002 through 2010 they were based in Austin, Texas where Allen coached the University of Texas men and organized Sucker Punch (open) and Axis of Evil (mixed).  In that time Nathalie played with Buttercup and was a founding captain of Texas Showdown in 2005.  Allen coached Showdown in 2009 and 2010 while Nathalie played with them. They moved to Germany in 2010 and joined the Heidelberg Heidees where they were part of the amorphous leadership teams for open and womens.  They co-captained the Heidees Mixed team at WUCC 2014 in Lecco.  Nathalie played WUGC 2012 with the German mixed team and they started coaching the u23 Mixed team in 2013 and continued in that role until Australia 2018.  Allen took over coaching responsibility of the adult Mixed team 2013 through 2018, and Nathalie played with the team in London 2016.
In Austria they will continue to operate as a coaching team for both teams, Nathalie will prioritize u24 and Allen the adults.

We talked to both of them about their vision, the upcoming years and the differences in the mixed and women’s division.

Nathalie and Allen with their kids on a tournament. Picture by get horizontal

You have been selected to coach the next 4 year periode. What is your vision for 2024? What will the team look like in 2024?

There will be a team in 2024. It’s difficult to predict exactly what that team will look like, and our focus/vision is much more on the process between today and 2024 than the endpoint itself.

We want to have a strong team that plays good ultimate. We want the team to be more than the sum of its parts. We want the team to represent the Austrian ultimate community broadly. We want it to be a challenge and an accomplishment to make the national team.

We expect the team to be much younger than it has been in the past. We also want the team to be geographically diverse so that it represents the entirety of Austria and not “just Vienna”.

We really look at it as a 4 year process. This year is all about getting more people involved with the team and really raising the level of play across the Austrian ultimate community as a whole. Next year will build on that theme, with a special focus on building player confidence and belief that they *should* play on a national team. 2023 will be an interesting year because of the simultaneous Adult Europeans and u24 Worlds; we hope to have two complete teams that we can train together and which will combine to form the strongest possible team for 2024. 

What is your concrete idea for this upcoming season?

The national teams will be hosting a series of 5 training weekends this summer, covid permitting. More details on this will be coming out over Drehscheibe in the next couple of weeks. These weekends are *OPEN TO ALL*, so please sign up!

Our goal is to have everybody who thinks they might want to maybe possibly consider playing on a national team in 2024 participate starting today. We want to work with the players to improve their technical skills and mental confidence and belief.

We’re hoping to have a capstone tournament in the Fall that we can compete as a team. If we are able to have this tournament, we will do a team selection based on the national team training weekends.

Allen and Nathalie were coaching the German National Mixed Team before. Picture by Quentin Dupre

For all the women playing ultimate in Austria right now who consider trying out for the national team: What advise would you give? How can they apply? On what skills will you focus during tryouts?

We will not restrict the player pool at all until tryouts for the 2024 WUGC team. The tryouts will take place in fall 2023. Our background started with US college, where you lose (the top) 1/4 of your players every year, so you have to be ready to regenerate on the fly. We also know that players change over time. The best players now may (will) not be the best players in three years. And you never know who is going to develop between now and 2023. Young players, especially, make tremendous strides very quickly.

In 2021 and 2022, we commit to having at least one open training camp. Subsequent camps may be attendance limited for practical reasons. But our goal is to get as many people involved and hooked as is possible/sensible. This produces a better community supporting the women’s teams and also increases the potential „trickle down“ to improve home club teams (which in turn trickles up to strengthen future national teams).

Looking forward to tryouts in 2022 or 2023, we hope to have two tryout weekends to work with. The first will be completely open (all comers welcome). The second will be by selection. If we only have one weekend, then it will be open and we will have a challenging job to filter the (hopefully many!) potential players down to rosters of ~23-26 players.

The best preparation for those tryouts is to come to the training camps now and get to know us. Playing with us in the next two years gives an advantage with respect to knowing our strategies, our styles, and what we are looking for. It also gives the opportunity to get feedback and guidance from us. It does not guarantee a spot on the team. Similarly, not playing with us the next two years does not make it impossible to make the team (though it may make it harder).

In general, we know how to teach ultimate and ultimate technique. We can’t teach (a) height, (b) athleticism, (c) teammateness, (d) motivation. We look for smart, athletic, team players who are dedicated to the sport and motivated to push the team as far as possible.

on the young player front — we want young players involved early, before they think they are ready to play with the adult team. That’s the time when we think we can have the most positive impact on their development — technical, tactical, and mental.

In the next two years, we really want to see the players that will be 19-22 in 2023. They will be the true wildcards that push the adult team in 2024.

Nathalie is playing ultimate for over 15 years, representing various clubteams at WUCCs and Germany mixed. Picture by Marisa K.

Both of you have been coaching for a while now. In your opinion, what makes a good coach?

In increasing order of importance:
Tactical understanding — How do we win right now?

Strategic understanding — How do we maximise our potential at the end of the game/tournament/season/cycle?

Human understanding — How do we motivate/encourage/grow as players/people?

Both of you have coached in the high level mixed division as well. What advise would you give to women in general, playing in either or both divisions to step up their game?

Play both. Good ultimate is good ultimate, regardless of division.

Physical foundation — work on your overall fitness, especially agility and explosiveness. Mental game — play with confidence, with field awareness and within the structure of your team
Technical game —- throw throw throw throw throw throw

That said, each environment provides its own set of challenges and opportunities.

Mixed will force you to be more physically aggressive and to get used to a faster, more physical game. The confidence to go up against bigger/faster (male) players is a tremendous asset when playing women’s. The physical difference between players in mixed makes space awareness especially important. Mixed is very good for developing your physical game and the team-centric aspects of your mental game.

Women’s requires more precise throws and provides an environment where it is possible to do more on the field without interference from larger/faster (male) players. The confidence in throws and experience of knowing that you can dominate a game. Women’s is very good for developing your technical game and the individual aspects of your mental game.

*u23 was changed to u24 after 2018

This picture was taken in Austrialia, where Nathalie coached the u24 mixed National Team of Germany. Picture by HG Photography

Would you like to profit from these two experienced coaches? Curious to know if you can make it on the national team? Come along and check it out!

1./2. May, 22.-24. May, 12./13. June, 26./27. June, 17./18. July are the dates for the upcoming trainings. For Updates, check out the mails via Drehscheibe.

Make sure to motivate and encourage all women who are interested to participate!

Kathrina ist seit 4 Jahren für den Österreichischen Frisbee Verband tätig und Gründungsmitglied von Uplift Ultimate. Sie ist ehemalige Spielerin des Österreichischen Frauen National Teams und bei Mantis Ultimate Vienna und Trinkokay! von Anfang an mit dabei.

Auch ganz von Anfang an dabei ist Kathrina bei Uplift Ultimate. Sie sucht, findet und betreut vor allem Autorinnen aus der österreichischen Community.

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1 Kommentar

  1. This makes me super happy! I played under Allen and Nat with first the german u24 team and then the adult team. I made my biggest steps in development and actual tactical understanding under them. I’m super excited to see them coach in the women’s division – I really look forward to see what their ’system‘ can do. I also encourage everyone from Austra to go to the tryouts – you will learn a ton.
    Congratulations to Nat and Allen – and honestly mostly to the Austrian frisbee community.

    Ellen (played for a bit with Hamburg Seagulls // German & Danish national teams)

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