May 15, 2009

Men’s and women’s ultimate teams not just playing around

“Whether you are a beginner who just wants to learn what Ultimate is all about, or if you are a seasoned veteran looking for a way to keep playing the sport you love, the University of Chicago Women’s team would love to have you play with us.”

This is the statement that opens the women’s Frisbee web site. But for all its friendliness and informality, women’s Frisbee is an intense and dedicated sport.

Defined by the Ultimate Players Association as a sport “combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football,” the ultimate frisbee played competitively by men’s and women’s teams at the U of C is a far cry from the lackadaisical toss-around you might have seen in the quads.

“We conditioned during the winter, had sprint workouts twice a week, lifting twice a week, practice twice a week, and throwing with a partner and in small groups three times a week. This spring we’ve been practicing in Washington Park… three days a week,” second-year Alex Krueger said.

With such a demanding schedule, you might expect the women’s team to be full of highly experienced, very skilled players. But that’s not the case.

“[We] have a huge range of skills/experience on the team. I’ve been playing since I was 12; some girls came out for the first time this winter,” fourth-year and captain Emma Fuller said.

The hard work is not for nothing. In the spring alone, Chicago attended four major tournaments. The first, Georgia Southerns, saw the squad travel down south; while Roll Call in Washington, D.C., turned out to be a disaster due to flooding.

But the last two tournaments are what matter.

At sectionals, held in Bolingbrook, IL, in mid-April, Chicago ranked seventh of a total of 14 teams. Regionals took place May 2–3 in Oberlin, OH, where the girls placed 12th out of 15 teams.

While this effort wasn’t enough for a bid to Nationals (only the top two teams advance), there were many positives from the weekend. For example, Chicago managed to beat Indiana, to whom they had lost in sectionals only a few weeks prior.

The men had quite a run, too. They ranked an impressive fifth of 16 teams at their regionals in Oberlin, OH, an event that ran simultaneously with the women’s competition.

Whatever the impression, Ultimate Frisbee is alive and competitive at the U of C.

Currently, the women’s team, dubbed “SuperSnatch,” has 23 members. They are considering attending one more tournament, D-III Nationals, if there is enough commitment. And that’s something this group has plenty of.