2023- The Year of the Spider
Spiders Set to Start 2023 AUDL Season optimistic for growth on and off the field
By Josh Frojelin
Oakland Spiders ultimate returns tomorrow.
The Spiders are entering their second season in Oakland, looking to improve from their 4-8 record in the 2022 season. However, the club is looking for more than just improvements to their record for this season.
Last season, the Spiders may have been inexperienced, but still showed great potential. “Youth plus ceiling,” said head coach Dan Silverstein on his team’s greatest asset last season. “There was a large core of very talented, young players. In terms of resources to the team, that was a huge strength.”
The head coach also pointed out that the players developed with more experience and repetitions playing alongside each other. After all, the team improved to 4-3 after a tough 0-5 start.
Look no further than third-year cutter Max Williams. Williams was coached at UC Berkeley by Silverstein, and is looking to take another step this season. Williams is now one of the Spiders’ captains after leading the team in goals last season as a pivotal member on the team’s starting offensive line.
Fellow captain Evan Magsig is also expected to take a larger role this season. “He started a lot on defense last year,” said head coach Silverstein. “This season, he’s probably going to be a starting offensive player. It will be cool to see that as someone who coached him through college.”
In addition to the natural development of younger players, the team is also looking to build on the chemistry they were able to capture late last season.
“I think that's the biggest thing our team this year needs, just more reps together,” shared Williams. “Getting used to each other's playing styles, really getting to know each other on a deeper level.”
The captain continued: “It's a big difference. Last year, we were talented. But this year, we've done a lot to improve our level of talent and it's a matter of getting ourselves to work well with each other.”
Silverstein also noted it was important for the club to supplement their developing core of players with those who have recently won a championship, and competed at the highest levels of college and club Ultimate. In addition to the players who have remained from the San Jose Spiders’ 2014 and 2015 AUDL Championships, Oakland added Jacob Smith and Jake Thorne, stars with club teams SF Mischief and SF Revolver; and 2019 collegiate champion Mac Hecht to the squad.
“What Mac brings is championship experience and the ability to say, ‘This is what championship teams do.’” Silverstein noted earlier this week. “I think that’s something that’ll be very important to our team. We are in a much better position this year,” the head coach concluded.
Silverstein also expects improvements to the team to come from his own development as an AUDL head coach. “Last year I struggled to be average,” he said. “This year, I'm hoping to be above average. It's different from college.”
The third-year head coach elaborated: “I was expecting that I could win games by being clever, instead [letting] the players win games by learning and playing well.”
“We would have lines go on where people weren't totally sure what they were trying to do… I don't think any winning is going to be because of new strategies. I think if anything, we're going to be simpler,” he concluded.
Williams is also eager to see his coach progress in the AUDL this season. “Dan is the only coach I've ever had for ultimate frisbee and I wouldn't have it any other way,” he mentioned. “I want to say this, because I think it easily gets overlooked and swept under the rug, [but] Dan is easily the hardest working coach/person in ultimate that I've ever met.”
The captain continued: “He has a very high frisbee IQ. He's developed the best zone defense in the nation, in college. We're going to bring it to pro and we're going to hope it stays best in the nation.”
As the season gets underway, with the Spiders’ season opener against the Seattle Cascades, both the coaching staff and team leadership anticipate improvements.
As Silverstein put it, “I'm really excited to see how the captains progress, how all these players progress, how I do. I would really love to go out and beat Seattle.”
“We didn't know how he would stack up in the rest of the [West] region,” Williams shared on the Spiders last season. “This year, we're much more confident. We saw what we were able to do last year. We feel we've improved the level of talent on the team and we're very confident in our identity. Those things going forward will make us a lot better.
“I think we'll see the results immediately,” said Williams confidently.
The opening pull will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Fremont High School in Oakland and be broadcast on audl.tv as the Spiders begin their campaign for their first playoff appearance since the 2017 season.