Knox College’s Ultimate Frisbee Team hosted the annual Natalie Veneziano Memorial Winter Whiteout Tournament Feb. 6-7 in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse. Ultimate teams from schools across the state were in attendance, as well as club teams hailing from Chicago and Peoria. In total there were 10 teams and over 200 players, fans and friends in attendance.
Knox, led by junior co-captains Peter Walker, David Kurian and Liz Thomas, put up a good showing, riding their defense to wins against Western Illinois University and Bradley University. The team was close in every game it played, falling to the Knox Alumni in a tight game and then nearly beating Illinois State, who went 4-0 on the first day of the tournament. Knox’s team finished 2-3 overall and was ousted in the quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Eastern Illinois University.
“The team put up a great fight,” Walker said. “We wanted to come out and play our game, and I think we did that for the most part. We’re a young team, so we’re only going to get better from here on out.”
Northern Illinois University took home the title for the second year in a row, surviving an early surge by Eastern Illinois University in the championship game.
“We managed to win it again, but the competition gets tougher every year,” NIU captain Nick Nenni said. “This is one of the most fun tournaments around, and coming out here is always a blast.”
The Knox team also debuted its new moniker, “Baberham.” Paying tribute to Knox’s history with Abraham Lincoln, it was a welcome change from the four-year tenure of the team’s previous name, “Xonk.”
“We thought we’d change it up a bit. This is a young team and a new generation of Knox Ultimate. Plus, the name’s pretty sweet,” junior Eric Ballard said.
Baberham looks to take the momentum gained at the tournament into spring term, when both the men’s and women’s teams will vie for the Central Plains Sectional Championship and a spot in the Great Lakes Regional Tournament. The resurgent women’s team, led by Thomas, is gearing up for its first appearance at the tournament in two years.
“I’m excited about the women’s team we’re building,” junior Grace Fourman said. “We’re hoping to get a strong team together and have some fun at Sectionals.”
The Natalie Veneziano Memorial Winter Whiteout Tournament has been held at Knox since 1995 and is named in honor of a former Knox Ultimate player who lost a lifelong battle with leukemia in 2004.