The 2015 Women’s Nationals campaign was one of great change for Chilli’s sister team, Huck Off, with the two-time National champions welcoming a number of new faces to the squad.
Having claimed back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, Huck Off were without a number of stalwarts for the 2015 campaign. Co-captain Julia Harris was out of action due to a poor life choice which saw her working in Australia for the year, while experienced dynamo Brianna Mersey was also out of action for the second half of the season due to a trip to her native Canada.
In addition, ace handler Christine ‘Mr McWhiskers’ Moore has departed these fine shores destined for Oxford, while last season’s impact player Fern Bettle-Morcroft has returned to the USA.
But the change certainly wasn’t all bad.
New additions Bergyn Massyn (fresh from a successful campaign with the South African Under-23 squad), wunderkid Christine Court, organiser extraordinaire Shikara Nel, dynamite newbie Catherine Lewis, Namibian import Cathy Pineo and up-and-comer Naledi Legodi were welcomed into the fray.
The league campaign was a highly successful one, with captain Emily Westerlund guiding her troops to the final where they were defeated by Devils Peaks (soon to be renamed ‘Craft’), who were boosted by the powerful Chilli partnership of Keren Middelkoop and Megan Banner who were on loan for the season.
With Nationals hosted in Cape Town, four teams from the Western Cape did battle with an outfit from Gauteng for the bragging rights in women’s Ultimate.
There were some tough lessons in store for Huck Off on the second day of the tournament which saw the defending champions required to fight it out in a play-off for their spot in the semi-finals. But with their backs against the wall, Huck Off showed their true character.
Having defeated Star Wars fans ‘Princess Layout’ for a spot in the semi-finals, the ladies in bluish-green came out swinging in their final four clash with top seeds TnT.
Despite being without the services of Court and star cutter Tina Klintworth for the final day, Huck Off put in a lion-hearted performance in which they fell agonisingly short of a spot in a third consecutive final.
Westerlund heaped praise on her troops following their successful campaign.
“We battled to get our defensive structure together on day two, but everything came together in the semi-final against TnT,” she explained. ” Using the gusty conditions to our advantage, we completely took away the under options with our stellar man defence, and the wind took out the long options.
“I’m so proud of our team,” she added with a smile.
While they may not have retained their title, Huck Off certainly won some fans.
“The way Huck Off played in that semi-final was incredible,” said Chilli Open captain Matt Lewis. “The fight they showed when the odds were against them was inspiring.”
Chilli handler Jonno Luis added: “Fuck yeah Huck Off!”
“I think Emily’s leadership was immense,” said Chris Webster, while eating an egg, of course.
Harris was approached for comment about Huck Off’s campaign, but the email bounced back. Apparently the internet has yet to make it to Hobart.