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History of Fury

by Gwen Ambler

Early Days - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008

In the early 1990's, the San Francisco Bay Area Maine-iacs were the top team in the country, appearing in the finals four times in as many years. After winning it all for the third time in 1993, the Maine-iacs disbanded, leaving the women's ultimate scene in the Bay Area in flux. In 1994, many of the Maine-iacs players joined together to form a new team, Felix, which won a championship title, only to disband in turn. In 1995, Phat City was born and qualified for Nationals from the Bay Area, but its existence also only lasted a year. 1996 saw two Nationals-bound teams emerge from the ashes of the previous years' teams: Da Fence and Homebrood. Many former teammates now found themselves playing against each other, and Homebrood seemed to have the competitive edge in their match-ups. In 1997, Da Fence dissolved as three of its players decided to start a new team that would have a lasting legacy. Jennifer "JD" Donnelly, Nicole "Sprout" Beck, and Gloria "Glo" Lust-Phillips founded a new team with the vision of combining the youth and athleticism of college players with a more experienced core. In particular, their goal was to create a team that could take advantage of the Stanford "farm system" JD had created while coaching the local school. Fury was born.

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From day one, Fury brought on board a number of young Stanford players, including Callahan winners Dominique Fontenette and Andrea "AJ" Johnson. By the second year of Fury's existence, the team had found a dedicated coach, Bob Pallares, to help lead the fray. Despite the leadership's best efforts, and although the large crew of Stanford players were on the dominant team in the college circuit at the time, Fury still found itself missing bids to Nationals in its first two years of existence. Instead, Homebrood represented the Bay Area at Nationals. However, by 1999 the system finally seemed to be working. Although Fury never won a tournament during the pre-season that year, it still earned one of the three bids to Nationals that season for the first time. Once at Nationals, the team overcame a power pool, blow-out loss to Boston's Lady Godiva by upsetting Seattle's Women on the Verge in semifinals and defeating Portland's Schwa in the finals. Fury had exploded on to the national women's scene.

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By winning Nationals in 1999, Fury had earned the right to be the sole women's representative of the USA at the 2000 WFDF Ultimate and Guts Championships (WUGC, aka "Worlds") in Heilbronn, Germany. Disappointingly, the team was upset by a skilled Japanese team in semis and then lost its subsequent game for third place against Finland. Fury went home without a medal and struggled during the entire 2000 season to find its groove. Despite the abundance of talent on the team, including another Callahan winner Jody Dozono, the team only made it to the semifinals of Nationals before bowing out to Lady Godiva. 2001 saw an additional semifinals appearance for Fury, this time against Riot. The game was an upwind/downwind affair where Riot scored one more upwinder than Fury to earn a berth in the finals.

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In 2002, Fury was determined to prepare itself for the windy conditions of Nationals in Sarasota, FL. The team sought out windy locations all over the Bay Area to practice its zone defense and wind throws. It also competed in the WFDF Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC, aka "Worlds") in Honolulu, HI, where the team was able to test its zone defense against a number of patient Japanese offenses. The team lost in quarterfinals of that tournament to North Carolina’s Backhoe, but was focused on performing well later in the season. At Nationals, the conditions were calm and lacked the gale-force winds Fury had been expecting. Nonetheless, Fury upset Riot in the semifinals and faced off against perennial powerhouse Lady Godiva in finals. Even in the still conditions, Fury was able to use its zone D late in the game to overcome a five point deficit and take the game to double-game point before succumbing to the Boston women.

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During the 2003 season, Fury picked up right where it left off and continued to perfect its four-person-cup zone defense. This year the weather cooperated at Nationals. A strong crosswind all tournament long enabled Fury to take full advantage of the defense it had been working on for years and other teams were unable to adjust in time. Fury breezed its way through the competition, besting Chicago’s Nemesis and Vancouver’s Prime in quarters and semis, respectively, before winning the finals over Riot by a huge margin, 17-4. That victory enabled the team to represent the USA at the 2004 WUGC in Turku, Finland. In Turku, Fury lost to the Japanese in pool play and then to the Canadians in the semifinals. The game for third place was a re-match against Japan and Fury fought hard to earn its first international medal. Later that year at Nationals, Fury faltered in the quarterfinals against Backhoe and ended up losing on double-game point. At the end of the 2004 season, Coach Bob announced his retirement after successfully coaching the team for seven years.

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Thus, 2005 marked a turning point for Fury. Bob's retirement forced the team to re-examine where it was and where it was headed. The team decided to change its offensive structure from the standard vertical stack to a spread offense. Without finding a coach to fill Bob's shoes, the team also decided to employ a self-subbing strategy within the confines of an offensive and defensive team subbing structure. Late in the season, the team added Idris Nolan as a coach to help with its new offensive strategies. With so many changes, the team was only just beginning to realize the full potential of its new offense by the time Nationals rolled around. Fury made it to the semifinals when, for the second year in a row, the team was eliminated by Backhoe. Nonetheless, the team was committed to its horizontal offense and was eager to improve it for the next season. Finding Matty Tsang to coach the team in 2006 was just the ingredient the team needed to take advantage of its potential. Fury ended Riot's nearly two-year winning streak and won the competitive Northwest Regionals for the first time in its history. At Nationals, no team scored more than 9 points against Fury as it beat Atlanta’s Ozone and Colorado’s Rare Air in elimination play before winning the tournament over Riot, 15-9.

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With Matty back for his second season along with most of the core from the past few years, Fury's 2007 season was dedicated to refining its horizontal offense. The strategy was a success as the team only suffered two losses all season and won Regionals for the second time in a row (this time with a narrow one-point victory over Riot). At Nationals, Fury took the competition by storm and its closest game was a power pool victory over Brute Squad (15-8). In bracket play, Fury went through Backhoe and Lady Godiva before it faced off against Riot for the fifth time of the season. Fury won the finals 15-6 after jumping out to an early lead. Back-to-back championships for the first time in Fury history!

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Winning Nationals had two bonus perks for the 2008 season: a sponsored trip to Japan for the Dream Cup in March and the right to represent the USA at Worlds in Vancouver in August. Fury started practicing the first weekend in March in an attempt to prepare for the Dream Cup, but Japan out-matched the team 15-9 in finals. Back in the US, the team renewed its resolve of peaking at Worlds and added five new players to a roster that was only missing two players from the 2007 championship squad. Fury sought out the best competition it could find before Worlds (even traveling to the east coast for the Boston Invite) and won every one of its pre-Worlds games. At Worlds, an early double-game-point loss to Japan was avenged when Fury won the finals as Team USA 13-10. After winning gold, Fury turned its attention to UPA Nationals and went undefeated through the field, including beating Boston’s Brute Squad in quarterfinals and Vancouver’s Traffic in semis. In the finals, Fury matched a familiar rival: Riot. This time, Riot had the upper hand as it took a quick 10-1 lead. Battling back with zone defense and sheer will, Fury went on its own run and won the game 15-12. Fury also won the spirit award, adding to the pile of trophies the team earned in 2008.

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A number of players put off retirement to help Fury achieve the elusive "double peak" of winning Worlds and Nationals in the same year. After 2008, many of those players retired to pursue other interests such as careers and families. After such a special season, Fury faced the difficult task of reloading the team roster to continue its legacy far into the future. The 2009 squad was up to the challenge...

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Timeline

1997: Founding year of Fury.
1998: First year of coaching by Bob Pallares.
1999: Team qualifies for Nationals for the first time. Fury wins Nationals.
2000: Team places 4th at WUGC in Heilbronn, Germany. Fury finishes in the semifinals at Nationals.
2001: Fury finishes in the semifinals at Nationals.
2002: Fury finishes in quaterfinals at the WUCC in Honolulu, HI. At Nationals, Fury is a finalist.
2003: Fury wins Nationals.
2004: Fury earns bronze at WUGC in Turku, Finland. At Nationals, the team finishes in the quarterfinals.
2005: Fury is a semifinalist at Nationals. The team self-subs and starts playing a spread offense.
2006: Fury wins Nationals.
2007: Fury wins Nationals.
2008: Fury play in the Dream Cup in Japan in March. Fury win gold at at the WUGC in Vancouver, Canada. Fury wins Nationals for a third year in a row. Fury win the Spirit Award at the UPA Nationals.
2009: Fury wins Nationals.

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Team Facts

It is important to remember that while each of us is an individual with our own part to play as a member of Fury, the legacy of this team is built on both the past and the present. Every time we step on the field, we represent the feats of our teammates before us. Knowing that past helps us fully achieve our potential in the present. Here are a few facts all good Furies should know:

  1. Fury was first formed in 1997.
  2. Fury was named after the three Furies in Roman/Greek mythology, avenging goddesses who relentlessly sought justice.
  3. The backbone of Fury's leadership has always been threefold: the junta [committee who picks the team], captain(s) [player(s) who run the team], and strategists [committee who prepares the team for victory].
  4. Fury won Nationals in its first appearance at the championships in 1999. Fury had not won a tournament all season before Nationals that year.
  5. Fury has won six UPA national titles: over Schwa in 1999, over Riot in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and over Brute Squad in 2009.
  6. Fury has been eliminated from Nationals twice on double-game point, once in the 2002 finals against Lady Godiva and once in the 2004 quarters against Backhoe.
  7. Fury has lost in the semifinals three times at Nationals: to Lady Godiva in 2000, Riot in 2001, and Backhoe in 2005. Fury has made semifinals or better at each of its Nationals appearance except in 2004.
  8. The last time Fury lost at Sectionals was in 2001, to Homebrood.
  9. Fury has won Northwest Regionals three times: in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Each victory was over Riot.
  10. Fury has attended four World championship events: WUGC 2000 in Germany, WUCC 2002 in Hawaii, WUGC 2004 in Finland, and WUGC 2008 in Vancouver. Fury won bronze in Finland and gold in Vancouver, both by defeating Japan in medal games.
  11. Fury's 17-4 win in the finals of Nationals in 2003 showed the world how effective a four-person cup zone could be in high-wind situations. Women's ultimate has not been the same since.
  12. Fury staged the greatest come-back of all time in the finals of Nationals in 2008. Down 10-1, Fury went on a 14-2 run to win 15-12.

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Player Facts

(The year each person was on Fury is in parentheses after the name)

  1. Fury's founders were:
       a. Jennifer "JD" Donnelly ('97-'04)
       b. Nicole "Sprout" Beck ('97-'08)
       c. Gloria "Glo" Lust-Phillips ('97-'99)
  2. Fury has been coached by:
       a. Bob Pallares ('98-'04)
       b. Idris Nolan ('05)
       c. Matt Tsang ('06-'08)
  3. Fury has had six Callahan winners over the years:
       a. Dominique Fontenette - Stanford 1997 ('97-'00; '05-'06)
       b. Andrea "AJ" Johnson - Stanford 1998 ('97-'00)
       c. Jody Dozono - Oregon 1999 ('00-'08)
       d. Pauline Lauterbach - Brown 2001 ('05-'06)
       e. Alex Snyder - Colorado 2006 ('06-'08)
       f. Georgia Bosscher – Wisconsin 2009 (’09)
  4. Fury has had multiple players selected for the World Games Team USA:
       a. Amy Little - 2001; injured ('99-'04)
       b. Dominique Fontenette - 2001 & 2005 ('97-'00; '05-'06)
       c. Kirsten Unfried - 2005; injured ('03-'05)
       d. Jody Dozono - 2001; alternate ('00-'08)
       e. Gwen Ambler - 2005; alternate ('01-'08)
       f. Stacey Schoemehl Nolan - 2005; alternate ('99-'08)
       g. Alicia White – 2009 (’04-’09)
       h. Cree Howard – 2009; alternate (’08-’09)
       i. Alex Snyder – 2009; Canada (’06-’09)
  5. Fury has one UPA Hall of Fame Inductee:
       a. Gloria "Glo" Lust-Phillips - 2008 ('97-'99)
  6. Fury has one Kathy Pufahl Cande spirit award winner:
       a. Jody Dozono – 2009 (’00-’09)

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Over the years, Fury has been comprised of a diverse group of women, but everyone has shared a common goal: to excel at the sport we love, together.


 
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