#87 Matthew McCabe

Nickname: McCabe
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 175 lbs
Years w/ESN: B 2006-2009
Major: Political Science and English Writing
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
E-mail: mmccabe AT gmail.com

I went into high school a basketball player, a track runner, a soccer player and a swimmer, and i had no intention of changing that. I had delusions of possibly trying football, but eventually decided against it. My athletic career forever changed my first day of my freshman year at St. Joe’s Prep. In our freshman orientation activities our homeroom went outside to the front lawn of the North Philadelphia campus, a small patch of grass no longer than 40 yards deep by 15 yards accross surrounded by a gravel path, beyond that was Girard Ave and 18th street. Even though the field was not ideal, and the game was not played in strict accordance with the actual rules, I was for the first time introduced to the game of ultimate frisbee.

I chose not to try out for the Prep’s soccer team that fall rather than buy cleats, and that winter i was cut from the basketball team, in the spring I ran track a bit, but knee issues kept that from becoming a viable option.

Through this whole time my friend and fellow homeroom student, Mike Panna, and I played ultimate on the front lawn almost every day after school. Mike’s older brother had played for Scranton and Philly’s Rage open club team, and had taught Mike the various throws – flicks, hammer, scoobers, etc – which he graciously and patiently passed on to me. Over the next year or so we continued to play until in spring of our sophomore year I went to my first PADA hat tournament – Mikey’s Spring Thing – where i realized that there was a whole different level of the game. From there in the fall of our junior year Mike and I organized the first competitive high school ultimate team in our school’s history and participated in our first season of PHUEL (Philadelphia High School Ultimate Educational League). We went to our first tournament with 11 guys, learned that there were such things as fouls, zone defense, stacks, in cuts, and a whole slew of other valuable information.

The next spring though we were ready, recruiting a large number of underclassmen we practiced 4-5 days a week, running a mile and a half through north philly to a maybe 2/3 size field, practicing for an hour and a half and running back. This was my first experience being on an ultimate team and I wouldnt trade it for anything. Over the next year we got to semifinals in PHUEL championships three times, and in our final season our senior year made it to the state championship tournament and reached the quarterfinals. I have an incredible amount of pride in what we did at St. Joe’s, and i hope to carry that with me when we walk on the field now for Pitt.