LUDA: Give us a brief history of Sweet Justice. Who founded the team, and how long have you been together?
Sean: We decided to do a team in early August after a failed attempt to make one last year. Most people on the team started our sophomore year in high school, so about two and a half years.
Billy: Last year we attempted to start a team (called Warmachine) but without a set practice schedule and full commitment from the players, we failed miserably. We had a single game against another school, which we lost. This year we met and decided we were going to rethink the entire process with hopes of being taken seriously. That was in August, before school started. We started practicing mid-August and are (obviously) still going strong.
LUDA: How did the larger
ultimate community contribute to the inception of Sweet Justice? Sean: I've played with Rigor [Rigor Mortis, Omaha's open club team] for about two years now. This was my first year going to tournaments though. They all have been very supportive of Sweet Justice.
Billy: Sean and his brother, Connor, are the only ones on the team who have played for Rigor. A handful of us played in SOUL (Summer Omaha Ultimate League) this past summer, and I (along with Sean and a few others) play at Memorial [in Omaha]. This shows we have a large range of experience, from Sean, who's played on a club team, to some people who never had played a full game of ultimate before.
LUDA: How did you come up with the name "Sweet Justice", and what does it mean?
Sean: Our original team name was going to be WHUT (Westside High Ultimate Team), but we decided that was lame and went with Sweet Justice. The big fist represents "Justice" and the Ring Pop represents "Sweet".
Billy: It has sort of been an inside thing just around our school. To be honest, it dates back to a friend of ours, Chris (who is not on the team), who would sneak up behind people in the hall, try and pants them while he yelled "Sweet!" and not stop until they said "Justice." Kind of a weird thing, but it has stuck for years.
LUDA: What tournaments have you gone to, and how did you guys do?
Sean: We have been to CotC [Children Of The Corn, sponsored by Cornfed, UNL's ultimate team] and beat Drake and . We also recently went to the Flatland Freezer in and went 4-4, beating twice and both the high school teams, putting us in the top two in the nation in the youth division.
LUDA: Talk a bit about your practices; how often do you practice, and how do you structure them?
Sean: We practice twice a week after school. I run our practices with the stuff I learned from Rigor along with some Sweet Justice freestyle plays, but it's usually half drill, half scrimmage.
Billy: Practice starts with just some tossing to warm up, sometimes we stretch, then we drill. When we started, our drills were very simple, basic cutting drills, etc. We slowly graduated to things like Zone D and different stacks, but we still find ourselves reviewing a lot of what we've taught. We usually then do a familiar drill, like the huck drill or something, then we scrimmage. As it gets colder, we are currently looking for an indoor place to practice to stay in shape over winter. One of our major problems is conditioning, and we hope to change that this season. We also have club . This is a pickup game for anyone at the school (and sometimes people who don't go to our school).
LUDA: How many active players do you have on your roster?
Billy: We've got about 30 listed right now, and we have anywhere from 15-30 at a given practice. Some people show up that aren't on the roster, but these are people who we know won't be showing up for tournaments. We let them practice though. We figure if they want to try and get better, why not?
LUDA: How long have you each been playing?
Sean: I've been playing for 3 years
Billy: I started playing in tenth grade in club. This past spring, I started playing pickup at Memorial, which really increased my skills, but I'm nowhere near Sean's level.
LUDA: What's happening in the immediate future for SJ? As in, what tournaments are you planning to attend, what are you doing for recruitment, etc.?
Sean: Chicago invite in march, Kansas high school state championship in April, and then youth nattys in May.
Billy: We plan on going to an indoor tournament that Cornfed has planned in Lincoln, as well. We hope to be able to travel to that, but due to our lack of school sponsorship, a lot depends on whether we can get a place to stay, whose parents will chaperone, and how we can transport ourselves there. We may be doing some sort of tryouts in the spring to weed out anyone without commitment.
LUDA: Any other tidbits or pertinent information you want readers to know about SJ?
Billy: The goal behind our team is, obviously, to play Ultimate competitively. However, we also hope to inspire other high schools to start their own teams. Even though a lot of us will be leaving for college next year, we care about the future of Ultimate. We want it to be take seriously as a sport, and being recognized in high schools would be a good step. After that: the Olympics.
Sean: Our jerseys are more orange than any other team ever.
LUDA: That is very true! Thanks for your time, guys--best of luck going forward.
Check out Sweet Justice's website at www.sweetjusticeultimate.com. Support youth ultimate in Nebraska!