Nick Lance started playing competitive Ultimate in 2008, and the following year won a Club Nationals Championship playing with Chain Lightning. He helped guide Georgia Tech’s Tribe to their first Nationals competition in 2012, and won t...
Nick Lance started playing competitive Ultimate in 2008, and the following year won a Club Nationals Championship playing with Chain Lightning. He helped guide Georgia Tech’s Tribe to their first Nationals competition in 2012, and won the Callahan award the same year. He has quickly become a high impact D line teammate with Johnny Bravo this club season. In this interview he spills on his rapid ascension in Ultimate, what it’s like to play with three teams in one year, and what he’s most looking forward to at Frisco.
Let’s start at the beginning. 2008, freshman year at Georgia Tech, you start playing Ultimate after competing in High School track and cross country. What made you jump into Ultimate?
I started playing Ultimate on off days during the cross country season. When we were between cross country and track we had a lot of time where our coach would just send us out to play Ultimate. Before college, the only Ultimate I had played outside of pickup was a winter league in Houston, and a Texas state high school tournament. No schools from Houston had enough players to field a team, so we ended up taking a semi all-star team from the Houston area schools.
Do you think your background in track and cross country helped you excel in Ultimate so quickly? In what ways was it an asset?
In track I ran hurdles and did the high jump. Being fast and able to jump, especially while on the run, is a huge asset in Ultimate. I earned a spot on the D line at Georgia Tech. I didn’t have the technical skill that I have now, but I asked questions and learned quickly. By my second year I was captaining the D line due to a large graduating class and the experience I had gained playing with El Diablo in the summer of 2008.
You did a great job of turning around Georgia Tech’s Tribe in college, and helped guide them to their first USAU College Championships in 2012. What do you think you did differently or brought to the team that they hadn’t tried before?
The only major strategic thing that I can think of was trying to move toward a more simplistic team strategy. In the early years, we always tried to teach everyone the whole bag of tricks, so to speak. During my final two years, there was a much stronger emphasis on the vert stack. For a team at an academically demanding school such as GT, we had lots of practice absences. Because of the spotty attendance, we would always have people who fell through the cracks and would miss key parts of offensive or defensive strategies. This focus on simplicity smoothed out the bumps we faced with trying to bring the whole team up to speed on many facets of Ultimate.
Looking back on this time period, is there anything you would have done differently? Lessons learned?
In the end, I like the way things turned out, so it’s hard to argue for doing anything differently.
Between 2008 – 2012 you played with Georgia Tech’s Tribe (’08-2012), El Diablo, Chain Lightning (2009-2012), and NexGen (2011-2012). How did your body hold up to the rigors of year-round competition? What about your mental state? It can be hard to stay motivated throughout the course of an entire year – essentially with no off-season – year after year. Did you find that challenging?
My body was usually okay with the year-round competition. My mental state, though, would always flow like the tides of the seasons. I would usually bottom out right after Club Nationals when I was coming from elite Ultimate back to a new round of rookie recruits that were starting from nearly scratch. In the early summer months it was always great to get back with the club guys and elevate my game back to the top level.
Tell us about your NexGen experience. Did you feel like it augmented the skills that you were developing in college and club teams?
NexGen was a great experience. Getting to play such high level games one at a time and really give everything you have for 20-30 points a day is a nice feeling. The skill that improved the most for