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Ucci Blog: Ducks Return to Practice
Release Date: 09/20/2010
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Assistant Coach Angela Ucci: Week One of Acrobatics and Tumbling Practice

Coach Mulkey and I are so excited to finally have our team back after summer break. I know our 24 returners were excited to meet the new members of their team and ready to teach them how we “do it” at Oregon.

I saw a couple of our new athletes prior to our first day of practice … I could hear the nervousness in the voice of our 17-year-old flyer Kelsey Leslie when I picked her up from the airport last Tuesday. The common feelings among the new players were excitement and nervousness. So when their first experience as a Duck was a timed two-mile team run at 7:30 Wednesday morning, I didn’t expect much. Since we are not a running sport, coach Mulkey and I didn’t know what we were about to see when we arrived at Hayward Field to watch our new team attempt to make or beat the 16-minute goal. Well, we were pleasantly surprised when over half of our team made or exceeded that goal and it has only gotten better from there as our team is continually surprising us. We actually had to go back and rework our practice plans because our team has meshed so quickly that we were able to progress with skills almost twice as fast as we had expected.

Since the skill side of practice was going so well, we wanted to see how our team was meshing outside of practice, so we decided to have a “tacky” practice on Saturday. I sent the team a text the night before to tell them it was tacky practice and that they could wear whatever ever they wanted; that was the literally the only details I gave them. So, when Coach Mulkey and I arrived at our off campus practice site, again, we were pleasantly surprised to see that everyone, including the rookies, had gone all out. We had freshmen Natasha Katzaroff and Stephanie Schulze in these hideous fur vests, Zakia Houston in head-to-toe Zebra print, McKenzie Wilcox in a blue tutu with a Princess Leia hairdo and even young Kelsey Leslie in layers of brightly colored unmatched clothing. Once the team had a quick photo shoot in their outfits, they were able to pull it together and have an amazing practice without losing focus because of what they were wearing. That’s when Coach Mulkey and I knew we had chosen the right group: women that can relax, have a good time and focus when the time is right. We honestly have had no issues or setbacks thus far!

Coach Mulkey and I keep looking at each other and saying “wow, I can’t believe they are doing so well this early, this is the best first week we have ever had!” As we continue two-a-days this week we hope to have all of our compulsory skills meet worthy by the time school starts on the 27th.

Head coach Felecia Mulkey on day one of practice

Junior back spot Chelsea White reflects on the start of practice.

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