Frisbees fly around in the campus consciousness somewhere between “Frisbee’s a sport now?” and “Aren’t they the people throwing stuff at trees?”
Ironfist, the John Brown University men’s ultimate frisbee team, has been to the national tournament twice in the last two years. The women’s team, Savage Skies, has exploded numbers-wise.
Three years ago, Savage Skies would take seven women to a tournament and play as many as five, hour-and-a-half-long games without any substitutions: intense cardio, but not a strategy for staying competitive throughout the tournament. Playing without substitutions is called going savage.
“This year and last year have been great recruiting years for us; we’ve really doubled and tripled in size,” Andrea Boss, Savage Skies captain, said. “We started off my sophomore year with barely seven people. Now we have twenty one.”
The men have also seen expansion.
“This year we’ve lost several good players; Andrew Goode, Jacob Moore and Chris Geinheimer have been significant contributors on the field during their time here,” Kyle Dyer, Ironfist captain, said. “Despite losing them, we have an unprecedented amount of first-year players.”
“We reloaded with the best freshman class I have seen come through,” Aric Powers, fellow Ironfist captain, added.
Both teams have just returned from Rookie Ride, a tournament that introduces new players into the fast paced, highly competitive world of Ultimate Frisbee. Powers was “impressed with how the younger players have learned the game so quickly.”
“I saw huge improvement over the weekend,” Boss said of Savage Skies’ tournament play.
Field awareness is a hard thing to teach in practice. Knowing where space is on the field and when to be in that space is fundamental to a competitive ultimate team.
Savage Skies is also announcing their first-ever fundraiser. To raise money, sophomore captain Greta Smith is threatening to shave her hair.
“We are super excited about our first fundraiser: Save It or Shave It,” Smith said. “Tournaments are usually pretty expensive and we were given a pretty small budget this year, so we’ve go a lot to raise if we want to continue to go to tournaments. We’re really hoping that other students and even faculty and staff will get as excited as we are about this and help support us.”
Look for Savage Skies’ table in Walker and contribute to one of two jars: “Save it! Or Shave it!” Smith may or may not be shaving her head, depending on which jar gets more money.
While a big recruiting class is great, Ironfist and Savage Skies have work to do. Tournaments are set up such that most of the weighty, rank-deciding events happen in the spring. Ultimate teams use the fall to develop rookies and hone skills.
“Specifically, we are looking to improve individual awareness of both offense and defense,” Dyer said of his team’s goals. “By doing this, we can play effective team defense and utilize all of our athletes on both sides of the disc.”
Competition isn’t everything for the ultimate teams on campus. Captains from Ironfist and Savage Skies emphasized how each team provides ministry opportunities in concrete, practical ways.
“We pray with every team after every game at each tournament,” Dyer said. “Win or lose, God gets the victory when someone comes up and shares how much of a blessing that simple prayer is.”
“We really do focus on the community and also outreach,” Andrea Boss said about Savage Skies’ character. “We play with great sportsmanship and integrity, and then afterward, we always ask the team if they want to pray at the end, thanking God for the game, that kind of thing.”
Alongside serious competition, the JBU ultimate teams offer others a vision of something greater and two great reasons to be proud of club sports culture here on campus.