Last weekend, the Whitman Sweets Frisbee team competed in what turned out to be its last tournament of the season, culminating in a hard-fought battle against University of Washington for a spot in the national tournament. Despite one of the best collective team efforts all season, the Sweets fell short. Though the loss was disappointing, the team accomplished what they set out to do at the beginning of the season.
“This year we had quite a few team meetings and I personally am so glad we have those. We do things as close to a democracy as possible and we realized that yeah, we want to win every game, but we specifically did not set the goal to make nationals,” said junior Nathan Sany about this season.
That mentality was a shift from the previous season, where the ultimate goal was to go to nationals for a second year in a row. Sany went on to note that in past years, a significant reliance was put on a few exceptional players whose incredible individual ability took the pressure off the rest of the team.
This season, the emphasis was shifted to better, more fluid team play by integrating every player’s talents into a system where reliance was spread across each player’s shoulders.
“We played the best Ultimate I’ve ever seen the Sweets play this Sunday; it was incredible. And to see us so focused and having such a great time doing it, not making nationals is not as big a deal to me because we wanted to play as one team and it took us the entire season, but at regionals we did it. We were one team and we trusted every single person and that’s why I play the game, so we can have everybody do big things and I was thankful to see that, even though it means not going to Wisconsin,” added Sany.
This is especially impressive given the doubts floating around the Ultimate world prior to this season.
“Many teams thought we were not going anywhere this season,” said junior Walker Larson “[But] actions such as beating UNC Wilmington, the school who did not invite us to Easterns because we were not considered â€˜elite enough of a team,’ 13-7 at the Stanford Invite, might give such skeptics a reason to second guess themselves.”
The Sweets will likely assume a similar role next season, but look forward to continuing to shock the Ultimate world.
“I think the expectations will be lower next year because we are losing players and we are losing some leadership, but I think that we’ll still get wins. We still have a ton of returning players,” said Sany.
This skepticism will remain as the Sweets are again losing some key seniors, namely Jacob Janin, who was the team captain, coach and role model in a lot of ways, according to Sany.
“He’s going to be a huge loss. I’ve played with him over the past couple summers and it’s crazy to think about him not being around,” said Sany.
Nonetheless, this season proved to me more successful than everyone but the Sweets expected, and hopes are just as high for next season.
“While the season as a whole went well, many would consider our two performances at California highlights. We won the Stanford Open, guaranteeing us a spot at the Stanford Invite, where we would go on to beat the number one seeded team in the nation, the Wisconsin Hodags, in pool play,” said Larson.
Sany saw the season’s successes as growth that will help the team down the road as they continue to build the program.
“We grew a ton as a team this year and I can foresee us doing that next year, too, especially with some new players,” said Sany, looking ahead to next season.
If the regional tournament revealed one thing about the Sweets, it has to be that they remain loyal to their team in failure and success.
“I don’t think I can pick out a single moment that I consider to be the best of this season. It’s hard to choose what to define as a particular highlight when spending so much time with such a talented group of individuals,” said Larson.