Knox’s Ultimate teams held their annual Winter Whiteout tournament last Saturday and Sunday. The A Team managed to outplay the competition, earning them first place in the tournament.
Winter Whiteout is an annual Ultimate tournament hosted by Knox in February. Since Winter Whiteout is the only tournament in which the team competes during winter term, Ultimate treats the tournament like preseason play. Ultimate has concentrated on recruiting in the fall, preparing during the winter and competing in the spring.
The Winter Whiteout tournament is unique in that it is one of the few tournaments in which teams play co-ed, rather than dividing by gender when spring season begins. Each team hopes to separate sooner after Whiteout to begin preparing for the fast-approaching spring season, which consists of two to three tournaments, depending on success in regionals.
Due to restricted space in the Field House, only one game could be played at a time, creating a limit of nine teams competing in the Whiteout tournament.
Not all teams competing were associated with a college; some assembled as pick-up teams from nearby communities, and one was a Knox Alumni team.
The first day of the tournament, Knox’s A Team split their four games, beating Western 12-5 and General Heathens (a pick-up team) 13-7 while falling to the Knox Alumni team 8-9 and Champaign-Urbana Mixed 9-11.The A Team knew their toughest competition would be the Knox Alumni team, but felt confident in the team’s progress. Successfully playing a back and forth game, the Alumni were able to eek out a win over the current team.
Sunday, the teams came out with a new intensity, cleaning up passes and creating unpredictable runs. Knox’s effort allowed the A Team to sweep the bracket round, overcoming both Knox’s B Team and Busse 13-4. They ended the tournament with a massive comeback against C-U Mixed, Knox pulling out a close win at 10-9.
With a tournament win under their belt, the team looks to build on their success, hoping to move further than the prior year in which they failed to make it past regionals to nationals.
The teams filmed the tournament and plan on reviewing the film in multiple sessions. Ultimate is not a varsity sport, and therefore has no coach or strict athletic training, though many argue it is just as physically demanding as a number of the varsity sports.
“The amount of time we put into it is comparable to other sports,” senior captain Harper Garvey said. “The amount of effort is comparable to some sports, perhaps not all, but we have a lot of people on the team who have played other sports at Knox, or elsewhere.”
Others agree that a separation should be made between Ultimate and the varsity sports.
“I think, to another extent, it shouldn’t be taken as seriously as varsity sports,” sophomore captain Maureen Lincke said. “Everybody who does Ultimate Frisbee does it because they really love it. Varsity sports I feel like there’s sometimes an incentive to do it, because of money or scholarships, but you can’t get a scholarship for Ultimate Frisbee. It’s mostly about the community aspect and I feel it’s hard to say that it’s on the same page as a varsity sport.”
In place of a coach there are five captains that oversee practices, fundraising, tournament setup, finances, transportation and any other technicalities that would generally be handled by a coach. In past years, only four captains, two male, two female, have been selected. The team felt that adding another male captain this year would better their chances.
“I think a big part, since we’re all seniors, is it’s our last year playing here together and we wanted to give ourselves the best shot to go further than we’ve ever gone,” senior captain Adam Schrag said. “In all seriousness, part of my hope was to be able to cover all the bases and all be on top of everything, so that it doesn’t take us a little bit to readjust and get back into things.”
With three male captains, the change will reveal its full usefulness once spring season begins and the teams split into their respective genders, leaving some to wait before making predictions.
“It’s still kind of hard to say, because our competitive season doesn’t start until Spring Term,” senior captain Ben Stanger said. “We’ve been mixed this term, so we haven’t really had a chance to see how three captains work and affect our [men’s team] competitive play that much, yet.”
Because Ultimate Frisbee’s run entirely by students, participants enjoy a laid-back, fun environment. It is this environment that helps them recruit current Knox athletes from sports like Soccer and Volleyball who are looking to stay in shape and join a team for fun.
With little outside help or interference, the team must hold itself accountable and bond on its own, creating a tight-knit community amongst the Frisbee players. This cohesion and inclusive environment is what many attribute to their success as well as having strong players converge in this year’s winter season.
With their dominance in the Winter Whiteout tournament, the team can prepare for their spring break tournament with more confidence.
The teams will be competing in a large tournament held in South Carolina where hundreds of teams from the East Coast and Midwest will be competing. Knox looks forward to jumpstarting their season early and avoiding a slow start.
“Because our season starts three weeks after spring term starts, it seems like right away that we have our sectionals and regionals,” Stanger said. “There’s not much time to gear up for it. So hopefully going somewhere warmer, earlier, we can start the season earlier.”