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First-years show off disc skills at Elephantitis

John Brady
A member of our team, Team Mario (right), attempts to catch a Frisbee last weekend. Photo by John Brady
A member of our team, Team Mario (right), attempts to catch a Frisbee last weekend.   Photo by John Brady
A member of our team, Team Mario (right), attempts to catch a Frisbee last weekend.
Photo by John Brady

Mithila Iyer

Grinnell College hosted its annual Ultimate Frisbee tournament, Elephantitis, this past weekend. With 27 teams participating overall, the tournament was a success, both in terms of accolades and enthusiasm.

“I think Grinnell’s tournament has a really good reputation amongst all the participating colleges,” said Hannah Lieberman ’16, co-captain of the women’s team. “Teams really like to come as it’s a very fun event. It’s most teams’ first time playing in the fall, so it’s a good start. We really enjoy hosting it.”

Jack Graen ’17, co-captain of the men’s team, added that the tournament is helpful for the player development of the participants.

“I think that it’s a very relaxed environment, which is helpful for new players, and also it’s nice for returning players to ease into their season,” he said.

Several teams participating in the tournament, including Grinnell, had a large number of freshmen, who managed to hold their own.

“I think the rookies proved themselves really well,” Lieberman said. “Almost every member on the women’s team who’s a first-year has never played before, and this is their fourth week of play, so it’s really impressive to see these new players play five games in a weekend and really hold their own on the field.”

Ultimate has a number of difficult to remember, intricate rules which make the strong first-year performance even more impressive.

“There are a lot of complicated rules, so that’s one thing that we really have to help the first-years learn, because there are no referees as it is a self-governed sport. You have to figure out the calls on the field,” said Colleen Moser ’16.

In many ways, Elephantitis is a tournament designed for the development of first-years’ Frisbee prowess.

“Ultimate Frisbee, especially in college is a sport that’s picked up by a lot of students as they’re coming to school their first year, so these early tournaments are very focused on development of first year players. The result is secondary,” Graen said.

Due to the size of the tournament, the men and women’s respective competitions are divided into four pools to allow multiple matches to take place simultaneously. This allows the men and women to field two teams each, giving all the players adequate playing time, key for player development.

“You could see the new players got better as the day went on, and they felt more comfortable playing, which is a really important thing for the fall tournaments. Each team won at least one game, which is pretty decent, as we play a lot of D-I schools that are really good and have a lot of returners,” Lieberman said.

Preparation for the tournament began as early as June, with the field space being reserved and the designing of t-shirts and discs. The tournament was funded by each team’s entrance fee of $300. For the captains, however, tuning up the first-years took priority over any logistical tasks.

“That really started with teaching them how to throw. We had to get them oriented into the game so they understood the rules, talk about basic offensive and defensive strategies and really just try to make sure that anything that might have come up over the course of a tournament was covered,” Graen said.

The upcoming fall season is unsanctioned, and while individual player development is important, especially for newcomers, the ultimate goal is to build a better overall team.

“I think the goals of the women’s team are to have each player feel like they’re improving and gaining confidence on the field, to gain more skills as well as to feel more comfortable experimenting on the field,” Moser said. “We’d also really like to function really well as a unit.”

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    Laurie McKennaSep 28, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Hi there,

    Is it possible to get a good quality copy of the photo accompanying the 9/24/15 story on Elephantitis taken by John Brady? I’d like to give a copy to my son, Sayles Kasten, who is the Grinnell first year depicted.

    Thank you,
    Laurie McKenna