Carolyn Rivero `26 makes a pass at regionals.
Carolyn Rivero `26 makes a pass at regionals.
Contributed by Claire Torgelson `25


Women’s frisbee team to compete at nationals for first time since 2015
The Grinneleanor Roosevelts after competing at the USA Ultimate North Central Region Championships on April 13 and 14. (Contributed by Claire Torgelson `25)

The Grinnell College women’s ultimate frisbee team, the Grinneleanor Roosevelts (Svelts), will compete in the national USA Ultimate Division III (D-III) College Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beginning on May 18, 2024. After several decisive victories at the North Central D-III College Women’s Championship on April 13 and 14, the Svelts were able to secure one of four regional bids to the national championships. This year marks the first time the Svelts have secured a national championship bid since 2015, an achievement that players and captains attribute to the hiring of part-time coaches in the spring of 2023.

From left: Theodora Hadley `25, Grace Kurtz `25, Sara Garcia `25, Julia Smith `26, and Kristen Bellinger `26. (Contributed by Claire Torgelson `25)

“A big thing this year that’s different from years past is we’ve had coaches and been able to lean on them as a resource through the season, which made a huge difference in terms of how we were able to play games and our competitive success,” said Meredith Neid `24, one of three Svelts captains. 

Their coaches, Nicholas Culver and Rebecca “Bex” Crown, are former Division I frisbee players and members of a Des Moines-based ultimate frisbee club, CLX Ultimate. Culver and Crown attend one Grinnell practice per week, typically on Friday afternoons. 

The introduction of coaches has been accompanied by discussions about the team’s goals, as players and captains have attempted to balance competitiveness with concerns about team culture. 

“Ever since I’ve been at Grinnell, there’s been difficulties with political discussions about what our goals are for the season and whether we want to be a competitive team that’s subbing, not [having] equal playing time, and that’s always been a discussion throughout my three years,” said Claire Torgelson `25.

“Something that this team is very careful with is how competitive we want to be and how focused we want to be on outcome-based goals,” said Rosalie Kurtz `24, a current captain. “I think that is something that we’ve wrestled with a lot this season and kind of gone back-and-forth on, especially in the middle of this spring season.” 

“A difficulty was definitely deciding, as a consensus, what our level of competitiveness was, what competitiveness was to us,” said Carolyn Rivero `26. “Having open talks, where we’d all just gather together and express our feelings and what this team meant for us, I think that bonding helped us overcome it.”

“I think with our tournament that we qualified for nationals with, it was fun to see us show up in a competitive sense,” said Kurtz. She also attributed the Svelts’ success to the team’s makeup of experienced players. “We had a good mix of players this year that have been playing for a while, some that had played before they came to Grinnell, but a lot that had started when they were in their first or second year,” she said. “A lot of players that have grown into themselves and gotten into the game really well.” 

Grace Kurtz 25 reaches for the disc at a team practice on MacEachron Field on April 24. (Meilynn Smith)

This year, four bids were allocated to the USA Ultimate North Central Region, the Svelts’ region along with teams from Macalester College, Carleton College, St. Olaf College, University of St. Thomas and Michigan Technological University. Eight teams were present at the tournament, as Carleton and St. Olaf each sent two teams. The Svelts were ranked fifth at the start of the tournament, meaning that in order to advance, the team would have to beat one of the bidded four teams: Macalester, Carleton’s “Eclipse” team, St.Olaf’s “A” team, or Michigan Technological University. 

“Going into regionals … I had spent a while charting out the possibilities for us, and we hadn’t played Michigan Tech this season, so I had no idea how they were, but all I knew was that we had to beat Michigan Tech, essentially,” said Torgelson.

“Originally, we ranked number five for our region, and then we won against them [Michigan Tech] in our first day,” said Betty Lin `25, the third team captain. “And the second day, we won against them again.” 

During the Svelts’ second match against Michigan Tech, Rivero was switched from the team’s offensive line to its defensive line. “I ended up playing handler –– I am not a handler,” she said. After what she described as “a very smooth progression of just throw after catch, throw and catch,” Rivero was able to score a game-tying point. “I was just kind of standing there, I wasn’t sure really what happened, and then I just see all my teammates running at me,” she said. 

“They were all piled up on me and I had no idea, I was like, ‘Did we win?’ I think it was that boosting of morale that made us have more fun, push even harder.” 

Meredith Neid `24 prepares to receive the frisbee at a practice. (Meilynn Smith)

In the weeks before the national championships, team members are trying to strike a balance between preparation for the tournament and having fun.

“Anyone on the team is invited to nationals and I think we’re just focusing on having fun, staying organized and enjoying the outdoors,” said Torgelson. “Focusing on the fundamentals and being together with seniors before they graduate.” 

Julia Smith `26 said that she envisions the end of the season as “trying to find a good balance between working towards nationals, but also taking some time to have some fun, interact with the G-Phants [Grinnellephants].”

Neid said she appreciated the support of the College’s open ultimate frisbee team, the Grinnellephants, as the Svelts celebrated their nationals bid. “They met us at the bus and had a celebration for us,” she said. “I think that just really said something that’s beautiful about our communities, how invested they were in this goal, and they’re playing in regionals this weekend, so we’re also invested in their potential qualification.” 

The results of the Grinnellephants’ regional conference tournament, held over April 27 and 28, can be found online at


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