The Knox Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team was seeded 15th out of the 16 teams competing in the Division III College Ultimate Championships. They came out of the tournament in fifth place.
“We were totally underestimated,” junior Sean Treacy said. “We proved the haters wrong.”
This year was the first time in the team’s more than 20 year history that players have gone to nationals. Despite being seeded second to last, the players came out strong. The championship was held on May 21 and 22 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
In the quarterfinals Knox lost 12-13 in a game against Georgia College, who went on to win the entire tournament.
“It was a very intense nail-biting game,” junior Jonathan Yeoh said. “It was back and forth the whole time. It was really hard fought and in the end we just couldn’t pull through for that last point.”
The team came out with a lot of energy the first day of the tournament, winning two of their three games. They started the second day by beating John Brown University 15-10 before playing Georgia College.
Captains and seniors Harper Garvey, Adam Schrag and Ben Stanger have tried to focus on the team’s mental game and keeping up positivity and energy among players this year. Garvey said that Knox probably had the strongest mental game of all the teams Knox encountered at the tournament.
“We really focused on ourselves,” Garvey said. “We just focused on the 18 guys there and nothing else. We tried not to think about anything uncontrollable — the weather, the field conditions, other teams — the only thing you can control is yourself and to a certain extent your team.”
The players off the field on the sideline have also been a big a part of the team’s mental strategy and focused on staying positive and being energetic.
“We like to say that our MVP is our sideline, because we’re always the loudest, we always have the most energy, we’re always the most positive,” Yeoh said. “I think that culture has really developed in the last few years actually but kind of culminated this year.”
For Schrag, one of the most unique aspects of the Knox Ultimate Frisbee team is that many of the players come in with little to no experience with frisbee or athletics at all. He said that some players at Georgia College had been playing frisbee since middle or high school.
“I think that’s the most exciting part about Knox Ultimate is that you can come in really with nothing and as long as you commit to getting better and putting in the work the team’s going to get you there,” Schrag said.
The men’s team underwent a name change this year as well. Formerly known as Baberham, the team went by The Knox River Rats in the championships.
“We just like to think of ourselves as being dirty, savage, scrappy rats,” Treacy said. “We’re rats from the sewers of Galesburg and our philosophy was just about eating whatever was on our plate.”
Even though the team will be losing five seniors this year, Stanger thinks that going to Nationals and other tournaments was a great experience for the younger players on the team and has high hopes for the future success of the team.
“I think the team will only continue to get better,” Stanger said. “If they’re willing to put in the work and really scrap it out then they can hang with any team. They have way more experience than we ever did at that stage.”