By Wyeth Coombs
Tuba Benson-Jaja is ready to make an impact as our new Head Coach this season. He has been involved in ultimate for over 25 years as a player and a coach. His experience includes playing with the Raleigh Ring of Fire for 13 years, coaching the Jacksonville Cannons from 2015-2018 (two playoff appearances) and as an assistant coach with the Hustle last season. We got a chance to speak with Coach Tuba about his experiences and his thoughts on this upcoming season.
How would you describe your coaching style?
“A big part of my coaching style is based on positivity. If you’re not enjoying or having fun doing what you’re doing, then it’s not worth doing. I follow that philosophy whether it’s with coaching or in life. I think if you are encouraging people and motivate them, then they’re going to give more, want to buy in, and work harder. We’re trying to expand upon what Coach Miranda Knowles has done the last 6 or 7 years here where there is a good flow of communication and positive energy.”
On the coaching staff and structure for this season:
“We’ve got one of the richest coaching staffs here in Atlanta when it comes to the sport of ultimate and leadership in general. This crew has so much experience and we’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to how we treat each other and how we treat the players. It is one of the reasons why I am so excited to be here as the head coach.
“We’ve got George Summers who will continue as our Defensive Lead Coach. Miranda Knowles will be working as the offensive coach. We are adding Skylar Pitts as our special teams coach, and he will be working with me as well. Former Hustle defender Ben Gagne-Maynard will be joining as a defensive assistant. This gives us a strong coaching core and then also gives us a strong growth environment for coaches.”
On the team culture:
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys on this team this year from the coaches to the captains to the players who are all buying into the team culture this year.”
On the four appointed captains:
“All four captains in their own ways resemble things we are looking for as far as the values. From the game IQ and intellectual stuff, we see in Christian and Matt. Brad and JP are hard workers who get out there on the field and show everything with how they play. We need people who are going to be with us and serve as amplifiers of the values we as a coaching staff are looking for.
How do you feel about being appointed as head coach of the Hustle?
“I feel a sense of gratitude for being in this position. I’m so grateful for being in a place where ultimate is a pro sport. I feel super grateful not only to be in the head coach position, but to also be part of an organization that shows the sport has grown more than it was when I was playing 20 years ago.
What should Hustle Fans look forward to most about this upcoming season?
“Fans should look forward to a very consistent level of growth from this team. We have a lot of really good players, and these players are training the hardest they ever have this preseason to turn their bodies into machines. If I was a fan, I would be thinking I need to get to every single game because there is not going to be a dull moment when it comes to our on the field product.”
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