The first thing I did when I found out I would be maybe spending an extended time in the UK was email Simon Brasse. I knew Simon from working with Five Ultimate, I was the team order representative assigned to help Thundering Herd make their jerseys. Making their jerseys could be a post in itself, but to sum it up, or leave you wanting, it included: 2 months, about 75 emails, one light bulb, 15 jersey mock-ups, 1 cow-print tessellated square, one roll of wax paper, and 5 “bullet bulls.” And I was one of three people to work with them, I left for Europe before they finished their order.
My email to Si consisted something along the lines of “blah blah visa blah Schengen blah, I may be there for 90 days, do you know anyone with a spare room, and does your team need a girl?” I got incredible lucky because his friend Abhi was going to live at home for a few months while he learned to drive (place to stay, check) and that the Herd second team did need another girl (instant friends, check).
Thundering Herd has turned into more then I ever thought it would. Herd has somehow managed to turn club ultimate back into college ultimate. What I mean is that the team is intimate and family like, with a mix of new players and veteran players. Overall Thundering Herd is a force in the UK Ultimate scene, their first team places in the top 6 at each tour, and the 2nd team is the number 1 second team in the country, and placed 15th (out of 40 or so) at the last tour. While they are a talented team, they are also a lot of fun. You can find them at any tournament because of their cow-print shorts, and they will definitely be representing at the party on Saturday night, despite having a first round game. I have honestly never seen so many people who can play as well as they can hungover. It’s a true display of athleticism. This is also the team who has introduced me (roped me in?) to Jaeger Trains and Bomb Jaegers (shot of redbull dropped into Jaeger.) In the last three months, I have heard “you’ll be fine” more than I have at any other time in my life.
I think the most impressive thing about Herd to me is the relationship between the first and second team. I have always imagined that this is how a second team should be, and what we did at UW or what is happening with Sockeye and ECU/Voodoo, and Riot and Undergound/Viva is a missed opportunity. Herd 1 and 2 practice together, and scrimmage against each other, everyone is treated equally, and there is no supremacy for being on the first team. In fact, the way the UK version of USA Ultimate is set up, allows for players to play 1st team one tournament and then 2nd team the next, so there is always the chance to move up, or down. Instead of losing the 6 girls and 15 boys on the second team to some other team by cutting them, they add to their numbers at practice and to their presence as a club by keeping them.
Thundering Herd also has an strong international presence with several Americans, a few Australians and Canadians, one New Zealander and one Spaniard.