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Grinnell ultimate Frisbee kicks off their first tournament on Mac field

The Grinnelenor Roosevelts dressed in their self-made team jerseys amidst the Elephantitis tournament. Contributed by Clare Newman.

Ellianna Cierpiot

The weekend of Sep. 10, Elephantitis, a historically annual ultimate Frisbee (ultimate) tournament, graced Mac Field. This marked Grinnell’s ultimate team’s first tournament in over a year.

The tournament, which normally hosts several visiting teams from other schools, only involved two additional teams, the Grinnell Alumni team, and the women’s ultimate team from Macalester College.

A normal ultimate tournament contains many teams, playing in two lines of seven people each, and each game plays to 15 points (scored by catching the frisbee in your team’s endzone) until the time reaches 90 minutes of play. Since play was limited due to fewer teams, there were rounds where the Grinnell open team (a team open to anyone, regardless of gender or experience) played themselves.

“[The tournament] … was much more about establishing the community and growing the community,” said captain of the team, Jacob Cowan `23.

Because Elephantitis is focused on letting beginners get familiar with ultimate, there were no official winners of the tournament, and points were not carefully tracked, according to Cowan.

Grinnell’s ultimate program is split into an all-gender open team and a women’s team, name the Grinneleanor Roosevelts, also know as the Svelts.

According to the women’s team captain Clare Roarty `22, the tournament was also intended to help new players get a full sense of the game. She said that since the Grinnell team doesn’t play full games in their practices, the tournament was a great chance for players to develop comfort with how the game works, and gain a good sense of the field.

“It’s really hard to know where you’re supposed to be on the field, and know what kinds of cuts are going to be effective, and when you’re in the way of a really good pass,” Roarty said. “So that just comes with time, and that’s something tournaments help a lot with, especially because you play on a truly regulation size field.”

This noncompetitive, learning-focused atmosphere also included a team dinner with the Svelts and the women’s team from Macalester. One of the other Svelts team captains, Grace Duffy `22, said that the dinner helped the members of the two teams connect.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the Macalester team,” Duffy said. “They have always been good competition for us, and also they’re a really good-spirited team.”

Duffy said that the women’s team made dinner for the Macalester team. “We cooked a bunch of chili and had them in our backyard, and we just hung out for a couple of hours and chatted and it was really nice” she said.

Besides team-building, Duffy also said that the tournament was exciting because there are more players than there have been before. He said that the Grinnell team beat the alumni team at the tournament this year, which is the first he’d seen that happen.

“This year in particular, it’s really, really exciting,” Cowan said. “There’s a lot more buy-in, and people really want to get better, and people are better.”

The ultimate season this year includes both a fall and spring postseason, because of the previous season being truncated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a normal year, the ultimate team only plays in the fall.

According to Roarty, the Svelts are looking towards a less competitive, more learning-focused season. However, Cowan and Roarty both said the open team is looking to be much more competitive.

“I think that the last time a team went to Nationals was in 2012, and I think that we legitimately have a good shot this year,” said Cowan.

Although the Svelts aren’t focused on that goal, Roarty said that she’s just excited to be able to be involved with the team again.

“It’s just so fun to watch people play good frisbee,” Roarty said. “Seeing people make good plays, especially people who are still learning, it’s exciting.”

The teams both look forward to the Exit 69 tournament, held by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota this weekend.

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