Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com
Alan Kolick, who finished second in the league in assists last year, looks to help D.C. make a return run to the playoffs.
The 2013 season was an uneven ride for the D.C. Current as they traded wins and losses throughout the campaign only to clinch a playoff birth with a victory over New York in their final regular season contest of the year. The Current went toe-to-toe with eventual league champion Boston in the Eastern Conference finals but did not have the power to knock out the Whitecaps and saw their season come to a close one game short of the championship.
Alan Kolick, one of the driving forces behind the Current’s run last year is back for a second season with the team and believes his squad now has the requisite tools to take down any opponents they line up against.
“I think a lot of us were pretty much happy to be [in the conference finals,] obviously we wanted to win the game at the time, but I don’t think that 100% we really felt like we were going to, if that makes sense,” said Kolick. “I think it’s a different story this year. I think this year we feel like we have a legitimate shot to beat any team most of the time, including Boston.”
Kolick, who was named to SKYD magazine’s First Team All-MLU squad, was the Current’s most consistent performer last year completing a whopping 95-percent of his throws– 481 of 506 passes– while also recording 34 assists and nine defensive stops.
“I don’t think I expected to have as prominent a role on offense as I ended up having, it just kind of ended up that way,” Kolick said. “I was coming off the best season that I have had with (D.C. area club team) Truck Stop and kind of started stepping into the role as the team’s main handler prior to the Current season. So I was excited to play with everybody, but I don’t think I expected to be that successful.”
While Kolick’s on-field stats were impressive, his role as a team leader was an equally valuable asset to the Current.
“Alan is just one of those guys that gets along with everyone,” said D.C. Current General Manager Matt Dewhurst. “I think that his ability to bring a team together helps make him a great leader.”
Kolick’s introduction to the sport of Ultimate came during his sophomore year at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA and then continued at the College of William & Mary. He credits his time with the W&M Ultimate Team for helping him develop into the player he is today.
After graduating, Kolick tried out for the top D.C.-area club team, Truck Stop, and has been playing with the squad for the past five years.
In his first season with the D.C. Current, Kolick shared the field with many of his Truck Stop teammates and said that familiarity helped to make his successful.
“That was definitely one of our advantages last year, that 75% of us had played on the same team before and we all kind of knew what each other were looking for,” said Kolick. “So right away we all understood each other and knew generally what roles we would play on the the team.”
Because of his prominent role on the Current, Dewhurst knew that he needed to retain Kolick if the team wanted to compete for the MLU championship in 2014.
“Alan was one of the first people I called last November when we were looking to build our core,” said Dewhurst. “A talent like that is just something you cannot allow to get away, and there was no way we were going to let that happen. I can’t wait to see how he builds off of last season.”
As Kolick readies himself for another season of Major League Ultimate, he looks back fondly on his favorite moments from his first professional season.
“Playing in front of a crowd was really exciting. You get a little bit more amped up because of it, which is great,” Kolick said. “I noticed [the crowd] more at home games because it was family and friends in the stands.”
As much as he enjoys playing in front of a crowd comprised of friends, family, and fans his favorite part of Major League Ultimate is the single game format.
“I think that was the biggest change for me, was the single game format versus the tournament format,” said Kolick. “It allows you to really get in the zone for that one game, really get amped up and go 100%, you don’t have to hold anything back because there aren’t any other games that weekend. I think it made the games a little bit more intense and made us cherish the moment a little bit more. It was a cool change and something that I really preferred.”
As a leader and core member of the team, Kolick will have a large role to play this spring as the D.C. Current gear up for their second season of play, with an eye on capturing the Major League Ultimate championship. The Current will need Kolick to display his skills as an offensive-line handler to remain one of the top offenses in the MLU.
“I come into most seasons with a lot of different goals. Last season I touched the disc a lot. This season I’m going to focus more on defensive play and try to do the same things I have been doing on offense, but be able to take better shots downfield,” Kolick said. “It might be nicer if I don’t touch the disc as much, because that would mean that the team is moving down the field more efficiently.”
While Kolick will certainly be a focal point for opposing squads, defenses will not be able concentrate solely on him as the Current posses several offensive weapons. Kolick said he is excited to see what the Current can accomplish this season after watching the development and progression of his teammates from last year as well as new addition Peter Prial, who was the league’s top goal scorer last season.
“I’m thinking that my role on offense will be a little less prominent this year, we have Peter coming in on offense and Markham (Shofner) started to play a bigger role on offense at the end of last season,” said Kolick. “So I kind of just want to be a facilitator for those guys, be kind of a setup man. I’ve always been more of a break thrower than a hucker, so if I can put everybody else in a good position to make plays this year I would be happy.”
But for Kolick and Current fans to end up happy this season D.C. will most likely have to accomplish something they were not able to do last year, beat Boston.
“I know for me personally and the other guys that have played for Truck for awhile, we’ve never beaten a Boston club team in the last five or six years,” said Kolick. “That has definitely been a huge motivator this offseason and I think this year we feel like we have the most realistic shot of being able to achieve that this year, especially with some of the pieces that we’ve added.”
Portions of this article were written by Sam Shoyer.