Frisbee Program Finds Success

File Photo: CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Senior co-captains Troy Holland, left, and Nico Lake led Catholic Justice to a Colonial Conference championship.

File Photo: CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA
Senior co-captains Troy Holland, left, and Nico Lake led Catholic Justice to a Colonial Conference championship.

Even though most teams begin their seasons on the field, the Georgetown club Ultimate Frisbee team arguably began its season at the Council of Advisory Boards fair on Copley Lawn in the fall. Freshmen and sophomores approached the team’s table on a hot August day to speak with current players and learn more about a sport most of them knew little to nothing about.

Georgetown’s four-team Frisbee program amounts to more than 100 students, not only making it one of the largest club sports on campus but one of the biggest student organizations at the university. The format of Georgetown’s program includes four club teams that each have rosters of 20 to 35 people, with A and B teams for both the men’s and women’s sides. Catholic Justice and Black Squirrels are the men’s A and B teams, while the Huckin’ Foyas and the Biddin’ Foyas are the women’s A and B teams.

By April, all four teams have experienced significant growth, development and success over the course of the year. Two weekends ago, Catholic Justice and the Black Squirrels went undefeated at their sectional tournaments to capture the title of Colonial Conference champions in their respective divisions. As far back as October, the website UltiWorld named the Huckin’ Foyas’ freshman class as one of the strongest in the country. Meanwhile, the Biddin’ Foyas have groomed a significant number of inexperienced players into knowledgeable and capable athletes.

Catholic Justice competed in four games the first day of sectionals April 16, winning handily in most of their contests by a margin of at least seven points in each game. The following day included a 15-10 victory over Maryland in the semi-finals, a longtime rival of Catholic Justice.

“Maryland is pretty much our main rival and our biggest rival and they had beat us earlier in the year by one, so that was a nice win to get,” Catholic Justice senior and co-captain Nico Lake said.

Georgetown went on to defeat George Washington 15-8 in the finals to win the program’s second title in the past three years.

“GW had actually beaten Maryland on Saturday 13-10,” said junior Perry Cao, president of Catholic Justice, “We knew that we would have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically and that it wasn’t going to be a gimme; it was still going to be a tough challenge.”

The Black Squirrels captured the Colonial Conference title after a series of competitive games, two of which were decided on “universe,” which is the equivalent of sudden death.

“We had broken seed a couple times in our tournaments, but we hadn’t blown away the competition by any means, so we were sort of the underdog coming in and it was awesome, and it was great to beat everybody,” Black Squirrels junior and co-captain Andrew Sullivan said.

The Huckin’ Foyas finished third place in their sectional tournament after going 3-3 on the weekend. Even though Georgetown put up a fight against two of its biggest rivals — Delaware and Maryland — it ultimately finished behind those two teams.

“All of those bigger state schools are usually our toughest competition because they draw from the biggest pool of players and they get the most resources, things like that,” Huckin’ Foyas senior and co-captain Kelsey Brown said. “But we had played both of them earlier in the season so we knew we could match up against them.”

Both A teams will now prepare for the regional tournament this weekend, which includes competitive pools of teams that will challenge both Catholic Justice and the Huckin’ Foyas significantly. However, the captains on both teams have an optimistic view of their chances going up against tougher teams.

“Regionals is the biggest tournament of the year and that’s where we always want to peak,” Lake said. “We’re seeded sixth coming into it out of 16 and regionals works where the top two teams make it to nationals. … If we play to our potential then things will go fine.”

Huckin Foyas junior and co-captain Michelle Carey echoed similar sentiments.

“Since it’s the last tournament of the season, the most important thing for me and for our team is just for us to play the best we’ve ever played, and to play for each other and just know that this is where we put it all on the field and this is the culmination of our season and our year with the whole team,” Carey said.

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Senior co-captain Kelsey Brown led the Huckin’ Foyas to a third place finish at the team’s sectional tournament.

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA
Senior co-captain Kelsey Brown led the Huckin’ Foyas to a third place finish at the team’s sectional tournament.

The Black Squirrels have elected not to travel to their regional tournament, even though they did qualify. The Biddin Foyas’ most recent tournament was their regional tournament, where they placed third. Because that was the Foyas’ last formal tournament, both B teams have officially concluded their seasons. One of the most prominent themes that the captains across the two teams saw this season was the astounding level of improvement and team unity throughout the year.

“Close to half the team is new players which meant we needed to work on our on-field chemistry early in the season,” Biddin Foyas’ senior and co-captain Julia Dunne wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We now make consistent connections between new and returning players in our offense, and are stronger on defense because the entire team is communicating well and is used to each other’s playing style.”

“This season our rookies grew at a much faster rate than before, thanks to our loving and helpful returners [and] the rookies’ dedication to our team and the sport,” fellow senior and co-captain Stephanie Szakats wrote in an email.

Sullivan spoke to the Black Squirrels’ improvement this season.
“Seeing the individual players develop and the chemistry develop is awesome. That’s probably one of the best parts of the team.”

The Georgetown program’s growing popularity among the student body reflects a larger trend in increasing involvement in these types of programs. While some high schools do offer Ultimate Frisbee as a sport, ultimate is still growing in many regions of the United States. Recent years have seen an upward trend of popularity in ultimate programs across the country, particularly on college campuses. In a June 2013 article in USA Today, author Jasmine Barta noted the number of college students involved in Ultimate Frisbee jumped from 9,951 in 2004 to 16,058 in 2011.

Lake explained although several athletes on Catholic Justice had no prior experience, their commitment has led to significant improvement across the board.

“The freshman class has been awesome with that, we have people who are incredibly committed who eight months ago had never touched a Frisbee in their life. To see them come in and have that energy and passion has been awesome,” Lake said.

Overall, this season has been a success for all four teams in the Georgetown program. For its athletes, the sport is about growing together as a unit just as much as it is about finding success on the field.

“We are so, so proud of and inspired by the group of girls we leave behind,” Szakats wrote, speaking particularly to her role as a senior. “We can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.”

Even though its season is coming to an end, athletes in the Georgetown ultimate program will practice all summer long in their hometown recreational and club teams, preparing for another year of introducing Georgetown students to a sport that is only becoming more popular.

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