Lady Sweets to host regional tournament

Cole Anderson

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Written by Riley Foreman

The Whitman Ultimate Frisbee program recently received some news that made their upcoming season even sweeter. Last week Director of Club Sports Skip Molitor approved Whitman’s bid to host the men’s and women’s regional tournament, which is set to take place during the first weekend of May.

Earlier this fall the Sweets applied to host either the Northwest Conference or Regional Tournament. Molitor signed off on the submission but asked the team to consult him further if USA Ultimate replied in the affirmative. At the Jan. 28 club sports meeting, he gave the green light to sophomore captain Margo Heffron, who helped craft the original proposal.

The news garnered quite an enthusiastic reaction from the players. Without yet playing a game, the Lady Sweets feel like they’ve already secured a big win for the program, one worth showcasing to their Whitman peers.

“I think it’s such a big deal because people see us playing pickup on Ankeny, but no one’s really watched the men’s team or the women’s team play at their full potential,” said senior captain Julia Bladin. “D-I Regionals is a big tournament because it is the deciding factor for D-I Nationals. It will be the highest-caliber games and teams that people could potentially see.”

“High-caliber” might be an understatement for the ultra-competitive conference in which the Sweets play. The women’s team is slated to play in only two D-I sanctioned tournaments, the Stanford Invite and the Northwest Challenge Cup. Preseason power rankings place the Lady Sweets at number five in D-I Women’s Ultimate, with regional rivals Oregon and University of British Columbia claiming the top two spots.

Despite the preseason hype, the team is attempting to concentrate on process, a motto that the captains have worked hard to emphasis over the past few months. This year the women’s program began a team fitness regime that intersperses weightlifting and cardio workouts with weekly throwing practices and scrimmages.

Senior Jessica Shatkin noted how the added fitness component will help the Sweets throughout the season.

“[Fitness] has really become part of our team culture. It’s really important because we’re not just resting on our laurels, we’re not just resting on our skills, but we really are trying to take it to the next level,” she said.

However, the athletic component is just one part of the Lady Sweet’s approach to their highly anticipated season. The women will need to remain focused if they are to secure their third consecutive spot at the D-I national tournament.

“We came up with this idea of ‘process’ because we don’t want our team to focus on the end goals … because those can become distractions,” said Bladin.

“We want it to be about what it takes to get there, what you need to do at every step. Thinking about it as a building process, a playing process, a process of building a team that’s working towards something is what the process is all about,” she said.

Despite stressing mental discipline, the Sweets still know how to have fun. They look forward to hosting their annual fundraising tournament, Onion Fest, which will take place in early April. The weekend will draw hundreds of players, but it will not count towards Whitman’s national ranking. With two tournaments in Walla Walla in one month, fans will have plenty of opportunities to root for the home team.

“I think we’re going to focus more on getting [the Whitman community] out for regionals because it is the tournament that matters for our team,” said Heffron.

Bladin is also excited to play in front of the Whitman audience.

“The fact that our peers get to come and watch and be like, ‘Oh, this is what Go Sweets means and this is what frisbee is all about’ [is important] because it’s such a competitive sport, and I don’t think people see that when they see us on Ankeny,” said Bladin.

While it might seem like all fun and games, it’s time for fans to watch the Lady Sweets’ hard work pay off.

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