Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Ultimate Frisbee teams get competitive, stay relaxed

The slacker sport has brought their A game.

Founded on the principles of feel-good sportsmanship and summer afternoon fun, ultimate Frisbee has moved to the next level of competitiveness.

Whitman’s Frisbee teams have grown in both size and talent since ultimate first showed up on campus in the 1980s.   Especially for the men’s team, this year has seen the fruition of many years of hard work.

“We started out the fall season [which is co-ed] really well. We won a tournament over in the Tri-Cities called the Hanford Howl, which we’d never won before,” said senior Mike MacCully.

At the recent Trouble in Vegas ultimate tournament the men’s team took seventh out of over 100 teams and some of the best competition in collegiate ultimate.

“In Vegas we upset Oregon, and they’re always one of the best teams in the country.   Last year I think they finished fifth in the country,” said senior Jonathan Loeffler.

“It was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament,” said first-year Jeremy Norden.   “Because of our performance at Vegas it put us on the national scene,” said Norden.

“Given our results [at the Vegas tournament] we got invited to the Stanford Invite, which is the most prestigious tournament of the year.   We’re ranked ninth going in which pretty much means we’re in the top 10 in the country this year.   We’re pretty excited,” said Loeffler.   Only the top 16 teams in the country receive invitations to the Stanford Invitational.   This is the first trip to the Invitational for a Whitman ultimate team.

Just because of their recent success doesn’t mean the men’s ultimate team has left the relaxed spirit of the game.

“This year has probably been a bit more competitive for this team, but I think since we’re all Whitman students, I think we’re all pretty balanced and take a healthy and holistic approach to things,” said Loeffler.   “We still want to eliminate the win-at-all-costs attitude.”

“We were the only team that I knew of at the [Vegas] tournament who was camping…I think that’s pretty indicative of our style,” said Loeffler.   “Also, we were the only team in the top 16 championship bracket that we saw at the big party.   We’re all about maintaining a bit of the spirit of the sport in a competitive environment.”

The women’s team also prides themselves in staying true to the fun-loving heart of ultimate.

“[Ultimate Frisbee] is a relaxed mix of fun because there’s drinking and goings on, but there’s still that competitive edge.   We work hard, but we liven things up,” said sophomore Katie Rouse.

While the women’s team didn’t fare as well at the Trouble in Vegas tournament, going 2-7, they still found it to be a valuable experience.

“It was a little rough to have to practice in the snow and have to prepare for a tournament when it was so cold and you couldn’t really practice, but I think for the amount of work we put into those practices, we did really well at the tournament,” said senior Barbara Simeles.

“We obviously didn’t do well in standings, but I think everybody improved leaps and bounds.   And it was a good cultural experience examining the strip and Vegas in general,” said Rouse.

“Also, the fact that the boys are doing really well really pumps up the girls too,” said Simeles.

Indeed, both teams look forward to the sectional, regional and national tournaments ahead in the spring and, of course, Whitman’s OnionFest, which takes place the first weekend after spring break.

“[OnionFest] is just a really fun tournament,” said senior Erin Stuhlsatz.

“And it’s a club tournament instead of a college tournament, so you get that break in the middle of the season. You get all kinds of people, and it’s a dress up tournament, which is fun.   Plus it’s at Whitman,” said Simeles.

One of the most successful non-varsity sports at Whitman, ultimate Frisbee has added a lot to the college atmosphere.

“I think the simplicity of ultimate makes it really successful and it’s pretty easy to learn also,” said Rouse.

While all the members of the men’s team played varsity athletics in high school, both teams praised ultimate Frisbee for opening up new opportunities for them.

“Neither of us has ever played traditional sports,” said Stuhlsatz of herself and Simeles.   “But for Frisbee it’s pretty new for almost everybody.”

“One of the great things about Whitman and club sports in general is the opportunity to compete and be involved in something, while still finding balance in your life.   [Ultimate] definitely enriches Whitman and gives it a name,” said MacCully.

“College is a really good time to come out and try different things and in real life it’s hard to go out and have those opportunities,” said Stuhlsatz.

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