The Knox Ultimate Frisbee A Team went undefeated through their six games and won the Winter Whiteout tournament this past weekend.
The annual tournament, dedicated in memory of former Knox Ultimate Frisbee player Natalie Veneziano ’98, also traditionally serves as a homecoming of sorts for Knox alums who played on the Ultimate Frisbee team during their years at Knox. The Knox alumni form a team together every year, always competing against the other attending teams.
Playing the stacked alumni team in the semifinals, the A team came out with boundless energy and won 15-6. Facing many alums who had played important roles on the team in recent years, some even having been captains, the A Team impressed with their strong performance.
In the finals, the A Team faced Busse, a club team from the Chicagoland area. Carrying the momentum from their last game, A Team managed to win on game point 14-13.
Junior Maureen Lincke, one of the team captains, emphasized the differences between the two Knox teams, the A Team and B Team. While the main goal for B Team is growth as individuals and as a team, A Team is more focused on winning games.
Lincke also noted that Winter Term is mixed season in which the Men’s and Women’s teams play together before splitting for Spring Term.
Since B Team usually consists of less experienced players, Lincke was excited to see an increase in comfort and confidence in the B team players.
She believes that the tournament provided an opportunity for players on Team B to test their abilities, learn strategy and gain chemistry by playing more than they would on A team.
“I think we saw that. I think we saw a level of competitiveness and determination that we hadn’t yet seen,” Lincke said.
It also helped to have senior captain Casie Panganiban working with B Team as a player-coach during practices and the actual tournament, using her experience to encourage the team.
Senior Jonathan Yeoh, another one of the captains, explained that the tournament helps put the team in the competitive mindset and allows them to accurately gauge their skill level.
“When we’re practicing it’s kind of hard to see where we’re going to fall, and how competitive we will be,” Yeoh said. “So Winter Whiteout is really the first time we are able to test our abilities at a full game level.”
Prior to this tournament, the team had only been able to test their skill based on how well they play against each other.
Lincke noted that she and the other captains try to make sure B Team only scrimmages with itself, and A Team only scrimmages with itself. That way, both teams are able to play against people of a similar skill level, as well as improving the chemistry among the entire team as they look forward to Whiteout weekend.
Sophomore Olivia Peterson mentioned that the skill seems to be more evenly dispersed this year in comparison to previous years, when one or two star players tended to carry the team to its win. She noted that the energy of the tournament motivated her and other players to increase their effort and intensity.
She feels that this energy will carry on to the competition season during Spring Term.
“It gets me back in the mindset of playing in a tournament because it’s different than practices,” Peterson said. “It’s validating because it shows what you’re working for.”
Peterson hopes that the tournament will remind players what the team is trying to work toward and will increase the amount of effort and energy players put into the practices.
Senior Andrew Richter agreed that the tournament was more of a team effort than it had been in previous years. He noticed that while nobody in particular stood out as more valuable than others, the team in general performed better than what he expected.
Before A Team’s first game, Richter recalled that senior captain Sean Treacy reminded the team of the deep roster they feature this season with a less top-heavy skill distribution than past seasons.
Realizing that every player would have to step up a lot more this season, Richter said that winning the tournament cemented the idea that both the Men’s and Women’s teams can compete at high levels in Spring Term even without the stars they leaned on in the past.
While freshman Carly Gilbert played Ultimate Frisbee on her high school team for several years, the experience of playing at Knox has increased her enthusiasm for the sport.
“The environment and the community around Ultimate is really welcoming,” Gilbert said. “We all challenge ourselves and each other to be better players, but we’re also really [focused on] who we are as a team and how we can be improved as a team.”
While choosing which college to attend, it was important to Gilbert to find a school with an active and successful Ultimate Frisbee program.
Going into the Whiteout Tournament, Gilbert felt a mix of excitement and nerves at the prospect of competing against alumni, having heard a lot about their high skill levels.
A Team won Whiteout a year ago as well and both the Men’s and Women’s teams translated that victory into strong team seasons in Spring.
The Men advanced to D-III Nationals for the first time in program history, finishing in fifth place in the nation.
The Women’s team just narrowly missed advancing to Nationals as well, losing in the conference finals.
With a strong performance by the Knox B Team, and an undefeated run to the championship victory by the Knox A team, Winter Whiteout 2017 has set the stage for both the Men’s and Women’s teams to have strong Spring seasons.
Editor’s note: Casie Panganiban is a Copy Editor for TKS. Sean Treacy is the Circulation Manager for TKS.