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The Scarlet & Black

Mac Field invaded as ultimate team prepares for new season

By Liana Eisman

The Grinnell Ultimate teams begin a new campaign this year, building off the  success of last year and a new crop of first years.

Although it is a club sport, the Ultimate Frisbee team at Grinnell maintains a level of organization and commitment that is comparable to that of established varsity teams.  

“We practice just as hard as the varsity teams that I was on in high school,” Cory Keeler ’12 said. “We have the same practice format—we stretch, we do drills and we have a routine that we get into. We practice probably for like eight hours a week and then when you include running or sprinting workouts it’s probably around ten hours a week.” 

The women’s team, the Sticky-Tongued Frogs, and the men’s team, the Grinnellephants, practice together in order to prepare for their success at seasonal games and the various tournaments that they attend on an annual basis. 

“We go to like five or six [tournaments] in the fall,” Keeler said. “Then in the spring we don’t go to as many but they are more serious. The spring is our competitive season.” 

The first tournament of the fall season, Elephantitis, will be held on Grinnell’s own Mac Field on Sep. 19.  Because it’s the only home tournament in the fall for the teams, both the Stickies and the Grinnellephants split themselves into two squads, effectively entering four teams into the tournament. The seventh annual Elephantitis tournament will feature 14 open college teams and 10 women’s college teams, including several state universities such as Missouri, Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas State.   

“The team has taken a turn towards a more goal and win-orientated season,” Captain Ben Finkelstein ’10 said. “We are looking to win a lot more games and in the spring when we have the college series we hope to get farther than we ever have before.”

Last year, the Grinnellephants placed fifth at a tournament that is equivalent to Division III National Championship for varsity sports.  They also received the Spirit award for best sportsmanship.  However, any pressure the players feel to repeat the success of last year is completely their own.

“In terms of formal intensity it does not compare to varsity sports,” Finkelstein said. “It is a lot more of a personal intensity, more of a familial intensity where you want to do well because everyone else on the team wants you to.”

Despite this commitment to their sport and to one another, the Ultimate Frisbee team still faces skepticism and frequently finds the need to defend their status as a legitimate sport on campus. 

“We are not treated like a sport in the way that other sports are and that is frustrating,” said Keeler. “I wish that we could have some of the amenities that other sport teams enjoy. The [Ultimate] players are paying for travel, paying for jerseys and paying for all of the stuff that you get for free on varsity teams”. 

Although there are disadvantages to not being a varsity sport, the Ultimate Frisbee team does not necessarily want to attain this distinction. Without the pressures and the restrictions of being a varsity sport, the Ultimate team is able to foster a more relaxed and accepting spirit among their team members. 

“It is a time when everybody can participate because no one has said that you are our starters or you are on the B team because it is only three weeks into the season,” Keeler said. “If people are looking for exercise or are interested in picking up a sport that is less of a time commitment than a varsity sport, they should come out!”

It is with this attitude in mind and a disc in hand that the Ultimate team hopes to gain the same respect and recognition that is given to other sports teams on campus, without sacrificing their spirit of cooperation and love of the game.

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