Sit-down with the MC: The 'Ship

May 29, 2015 Steve Edmunds
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"We have finally lost our squirrelliness", says Shana Alverson from the Atlanta Assassins. "You know when a squirrel is in the middle of the road when a car is coming and it begins to panic and looks at both sides of the road not sure where to go? That's how we felt on the grid the first couple of matches." After getting blown out the first match of the season against the Orlando Outlaws, the Assassins have only improved their game - winning every match since the first one. Louis Arnold, one of the Assassins recently named to the All-Star squad for the South, explained how much more mature the team is now and how they are prepared for anything. Coach Marshall Crown says he has stressed family and togetherness all season long and it is all coming together at the perfect time.

The Assassins togetherness was evident in their dominating performance in the semifinals against the South Carolina Titans. They won 10 out of the 11 races including a come-from-behind victory in the sprint relay. "We are taking the playoffs one game at a time. We knew the Titans didn't have a great regular season but they have some great athletes", said Marshall. Thanks to their communication and quick transitions, the Assassins were able to put together a near flawless performance. The team couldn't stop talking about the comeback on the sprint relay. It just goes to show that no race is over until the other team crosses the finish line. The Assassins were behind right from the beginning, but even with the Titans two elements ahead, the Assassins said they still believed they could make it happen. The team kept there composure and battled to win what would end up being one of the most exciting races of the day.

As the team prepares for the championship match against the Carolina Thunder, Marshall says they do not plan to do anything differently. "[The Thunder] clearly have a lot of talent and are very well coached, but we are looking at it as just another match. We are not going to overthink it." The Carolina Thunder is stacked with talent on both the men and women's side and they are coming into the championship undefeated. The Assassins are well aware of their opponent's strength, however, they are focused on what they can do. "We are racing against the races", says Shana. "We have to play our game and trust each and always have a backup plan." The Assassins are confident that they can beat anyone if they stick to the game plan and play their way.

The Carolina Thunder have been the most dominant team in the SAGL's first season. The semifinal match against the Charleston Marauders was as little closer than what they would have preferred but, in the end, a win is a win. Coach Tim Wright has experienced great success even with the obstacle of having players in and out all season long. He has seemingly found the right formula for grid success. Tim is one of the few coaches that hasn't slammed a clipboard or water bottle on the grid when something goes terribly wrong during the middle of a race. "Getting worked up doesn't help anything. We come in with a plan and try to execute it the best we can." You won't see much emotion out of him until the match is over. One of the Thunder's star females, Whitney Gelin - recently drafted to play in the pros (NPGL) as a part of the Boston Iron - appreciates Tim's cool approach. "We are a good balance. I get so fired up and his calm demeanor really helps me and the team stay focused." Tim has kept this team in sync, working through the challenges of a having a revolving door of athletes due to players being drafted to the NPGL and having to prep for their upcoming camps. It's not easy to get your team as prepared as the Thunder in just a couple of days with athletes that have minimal grid experience.

Tim and the Thunder are finally looking forward to having a full roster for the championship on May 30th. It is a huge match but according to Cliff Kohut "It will be business as usual." They will continue to perform as they always have, while paying extra attention to detail. Each team knows the smallest slip up can cost you a race or even a match. The Thunder demonstrates a great deal of trust in each other and they know they will be tough to beat if everyone does their job.

The 2015 SAGL Championship Match will be held at 6PM, May 30th at 1825 Laurel St, Columbia, following the Vitargo All-Star Match at 3PM. Both Marshall (Assassins) and Tim (Thunder) have made tremendous adjustments and overcome adversity to get to this point. Winning the championship of the inaugural SAGL season is a feat that won't soon be forgotten. Each coach says they are preparing like it is just another match, however, the desire to win is in their eyes. The Thunder want to finish what they started with a perfect season record and proof of their dominance in the country's premiere GRID amateur league. The Assassins have had a chip on their shoulder since their embarrassing defeat in the first week. They still believe they have a lot to prove and expect to win.

All the hype around this match is for good reason. There are big name athletes going up against each other. Many of these athletes will be seen later this year on NBC Sports during the NPGL's upcoming season. Both teams travel very well and will pack the house this Saturday. Each team believes that they can win this match and will no doubt leave it all out on the grid. By Saturday night we will have our first SAGL champion. It's an exciting moment everyone will want to be a part of. See you on the Grid!