Ultimate Frisbee teams go to Stanford Open despite frustrating travel negotiations

Nate Lessler

Credit: E. Johnson

Whitman’s men’s and women’s club Ultimate Frisbee teams traveled to Stevinson, Calif. last weekend to compete in the Stanford Open. But this trip only happened after lengthy negotiations that prompted intervention from ASWC’s finance chair.

“It was a long negotiation process,” said senior Elle Burstein, co-captain of the women’s club Ultimate team. “The club sports department originally decided that our trip to Stanford wasn’t in the best interest of the department, because of budgetary and safety concerns.”

The Ultimate teams’ travel plans, as well as those of all Whitman club sports teams, must be approved by the Club Sports Committee in order to receive funding, according to Assistant Athletic Director Skip Molitor.

When considering club teams’ travel plans, the committee must take safety, cost, supervision and missed class time into account.

Although the committee denied the initial request on account of budget and safety concerns, they  proposed that the Ultimate team’s budget could allow  either the men’s or women’s team to attend the tournament, under the condition that they would travel in a Whitman-owned, 15-passenger mini-bus.

This decision was met with frustration on the part of the Ultimate team because they were put in the difficult position of having to choose between two qualified teams.

Members of the Ultimate teams were also confused by the committee’s decision because they believed that traveling by bus presented more of a potential safety risk than flying. Confusion also arose because the teams’ budget included sufficient funds to cover both teams’ travel to the tournament.

When sophomore ASWC Finance Chair Matt Dittrich caught wind of the situation, he issued a memorandum stating ASWC’s support of the men’s and women’s Ultimate teams being able to compete at Stanford. ASWC provides approximately one third of the funding for club sports.

“There have existed vague guidelines, standards and appeal processes pertaining to the prospect of Whitman College Ultimate Frisbee traveling to the Stanford Open,” the memorandum states. “The tardiness regarding the eventual notification of denial was sufficient to yield additional costs and a lack of alternative options; therefore it is the opinion of the Finance Chair . . . [that] Ultimate Frisbee’s request to send both teams, male and female, to the Stanford Open . . . should be considered by the Whitman Club Sports Committee.”

Not long after Dittrich issued the memorandum, the Club Sports Committee announced that they would allow both the men and women’s teams to travel on a charter bus to Stevinson in order to attend the Stanford Open.

“We felt this means of travel was the most reasonable in regards to . . . safety, cost, supervision and missed class time,” said Molitor.

According to a source who requested anonymity due to a working relationship with Molitor, transporting the teams to California via charter bus was just as costly as a flight.

This fact, as well as a total of 30 hours spent traveling on the road, left members of the ultimate teams questioning  whether or not a charter bus was the most logical choice in regards to safety and cost.

Both teams, happy as they were to go, expressed frustration. Burstein acknowledged that club sports continues to progress.

“Club sports is still developing,” she said. “Every year that I have been here there have been new developments within the programs.”