In the past couple of years some videos and pictures have surfaced from the underwater world in the north of Florida. A new team called TURC (Tallahassee Underwater Rugby Club) have started practices, and more and more players are joining the club after the Covid Pandemic break.
UWRUGBY.ORG contacted their organizer Mischa Steurer for a quick interview and introduce Tallahassee Underwater Rugby to the rest of US and Canadian Clubs.
UWRUGBY.ORG: It was a great surprise to find that a new Florida team has joined the UW Rugby world! How did Tallahassee UWR started?
Mischa Steurer: I played UWR for 15 years in Austria and Switzerland. After coming to the US in 2001, I lost track of the sport for a long while. In the spring of 2019, I ran into Joerg Hess, a fellow from Germany who also played there for several years prior to coming to the US. We instantly connected and started the club. Joerg knew the coach of the aquatics program of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) who offered us time in the pool to get stated. So we stretched out feelers and found some folks interested to try it. Of course, we needed baskets and balls. So Joerg ordered balls from Germany and I constructed baskets from PVC pipe and rubber mats I had left over. The team steadily grew and after about 1 year we had around 12 folks on the list most of them playing regularly once a week. We even planned to attend a tournament organized by the Florida Krakens in the spring of 2020. Then, the pandemic hit. After a year of pause we could finally restart again about 2 months ago. By now, we have 16 players on our list of which around 10 play regularly twice a week.
UWRUGBY.ORG: Who is the organizer?
M. S. Me, my wife Maria, and Joerg. The “oldies” from Europe J.
UWRUGBY.ORG: Where is Tallahassee located?
M. S. Almost exactly between Jacksonville and Pensacola, Florida, about 5h drive south of Atlanta and 4h drive north-west of Orlando. It is actually the capital of Florida.
UWRUGBY.ORG: How many days a week does your team practice UWR?
M. S. Two (Monday and Thursday)
UWRUGBY.ORG: Having the real UWR goals is a big milestone for clubs. Does Tallahassee have them yet?
M. S. We have goals. But not the “real” ones you may be referring to. Our goals are the proper size, though.
UWRUGBY.ORG: How many players do you have? How do you see their future in UWR?
M. S. Currently, we have 16 players on our list. Most of them just started in the last 2 months. Only four remained from the bunch who played before the pandemic. As for aspirations, right now we are just happy to have some quality training time and full body workout twice a week. As we train the team we may consider seeking tournaments in the future. However, we have a significant disadvantage with our pool being only 10 ft. 3 in deep.
UWRUGBY.ORG: How did you find out about Underwater Rugby? What’s your experience?
M. S. I played UWR for 15 years in Austria (Vienna) and Switzerland (Zurich). I came to know the Vienna UWR club after I asked my scuba instructor at the university how I could improve my swimming with fins technique. Then I got hooked on UWR. It was a big part of a long period of my life. Back then I played tournaments but never aspired to make it into the national league. I would say I am a fairly experienced player, though.
UWRUGBY.ORG: US and Canadian clubs started a collaboration to develop the sport in both sides of the border through the North American League (NAL) Do you see your team going to tournaments in the US anytime soon?
M. S. As I said, we are still far away from attending tournaments. Whether that will ever become a driver for us we shall see. First, we need a set of players who stay for a long time and learn the sport really well.
UWRUGBY.ORG: A couple of years ago the US clubs started a big effort to start the ladies UWR league. How do you see the interest of ladies on UWR? How many girls are in your team?
M. S. We are so lucky to have five ladies on our team, including my wife Maria J. They are doing very well and have a lot of fun chasing us boys through the pool.
UWRUGBY.ORG: What are your plans for Tallahassee UWR in the near future and on the long run?
M. S. Near future: keep on growing in numbers so we have a more solid base of long term members for sustainability. In the long run I hope to attend the occasional tournament.
UWRUGBY.ORG: What are the dimensions and characteristics of your pool?
M. S. Depth: 10’-3” (3.1 m)
Width: 42’-7” (13 m)
Length: 83’-4” (25.4 m)
UWRUGBY.ORG: Having UWR clubs nearby is a great help for UWR development. Have you been in contact with the Florida Krakens in Pompano Beach or the keys?
M. S. Yes. As I said we actually planned to attend at tournament in Pompano Beach last year but then Covid hit.
UWRUGBY.ORG: Do you want to send a message for the US and Canadian UWR teams?
M. S. I would send greetings to the SFO team. I had a pleasure to be guest player with their awesome team while on a business trip in 2019. Also a shout out to Angela and Nicole from the FL Kraken. I hope to finally see the Kraken team in person in the not too distant future.
Photo: Tallahassee Underwater Rugby Club partial Team – Mischa Steurer