Frisbee Teams Gearing up for Sweet Seasons

Gaby Thomas, Staff Reporter

The Sweets, Whitman College’s ultimate frisbee teams, have gained increasing notoriety within the Whitman community and beyond throughout the past few years, and they have hopes to make this 2017 season one filled with the same mixture of laid-back goofiness and competitive tenacity that they have come to be known for.

Both men’s and women’s teams became club sports in 1992. During the fall, the teams practice and scrimmage together, tuning up skills and allowing new players to become acquainted with the rest of the team. The men played in local tournaments to get a feel for their new roster. In the spring, the season begins to pick up in time commitment and competitiveness, and the team travels to tournaments, competing against some of the best college teams in the country.

Throughout the years, The Sweets have grown in numbers and excellence. This year’s seniors on the team were part of the club’s big jump to Division I during their first season at Whitman. The women’s team made it to the Division I Collegiate Nationals for the first time in 2013, and again in 2014 and 2016. This last May, the Lady Sweets finished second in the nation after falling to Stanford University in a final game televised by ESPN.

“Nationals really showed us how our team culture can be so powerful and competitive, while also fostering positivity. It was an incredible experience,” sophomore captain Mackenzie Timbel said.

The women’s team welcomed two new volunteer coaches this year from a club team called the Seattle Riot. They have brought new ideas and served as inspirational role models for the players, working on techniques like cutting and zone offense. When the women’s team isn’t on the field, they are lifting in the gym to build up strength for peak performance in games. The men’s team holds similar conditioning, skill-focused and weight training practices. The Sweets spring season closely resembles that of a varsity sport, in so far as they have practice six days a week for multiple hours at a time.

“Sweets culture is a great balance between fun and focus. It’s expected that everyone come to practice with the intention of dedicating those hours to bettering themselves and their teammates,” Lian Gamble, a first year on the women’s team, said.

“It’s the best thing I’ve done at Whitman because it’s a great, diverse group of people. It’s the most fun I’ve had at this school,” senior Alex Hardesty added.

At the end of January, the women’s team travelled to Santa Barbara for their first tournament, where they faced off against some of the California powerhouses.

“Our goal wasn’t to win, but to try new things and learn from each other,” Hardesty said, reflecting on the women’s tournament in Santa Barbara. The men’s team went to The Stanford Open a couple of weeks ago and finished in eighth place.

These were the teams’ first tastes of playing outdoors this semester, as the weather in Walla Walla had not been conducive to conditioning and tossing outside yet. Additionally, it gave the team a chance to familiarize newcomers with the Sweets’ style of play and team culture.

“Our goal this spring season is to build a cohesive team full of chemistry, positivity and competitive grit,” Timbel said.

Photo by Amelia Wells.

For the men’s team, “Our team goal this year is to celebrate each other. When we contribute to the positive culture of the team, we have more fun, and we create an experience we can be happy to be a part of no matter what, and we perform better as a result,” Farwell said.

Looking forward, the women travel to Palo Alto, California for the Stanford Invitational in the first week of March, and both teams will compete in the Northwest Challenge Cup in Seattle at the end of March. For both teams, regional championships in April determine if they will compete at Division I Nationals in Ohio this May.