It is the beginning of the school year, and that means one thing: Ultimate Frisbee practice is on.
The men’s Ultimate Frisbee club, Ironfist, and the women’s club, Savage Skies, have taken it upon themselves to execute a winning formula that emphasizes team chemistry while at the same time developing skill.
“Right off the bat this year, after the club fair got a good list of names, we got a bunch of guys coming out to practice these first couple of weeks,” Ironfist president Ryan Gulbranson said. “It’s been really fun to see these new faces and to get to know the new guys. That’s always a blast at the beginning of the semester.”
Though neither team has had many practices, both clubs have noticed that a bond has started to form.
“I’d say we’re gelling pretty well, I mean, as best we can after two practices,” first-year Savage Skies member Kate Garrison said after her second practice.
“We scrimmage against each other, which has been good in terms of getting to know people on your team. When it’s one big group, it’s hard to get to know people, but since we’ve been getting into smaller groups and scrimmaging against each other, it’s been helpful.”
Both Garrison and Gulbranson said that their teams have gained several players who have played Ultimate Frisbee before.
“They lost a lot of seniors last year, but a lot of new freshmen came, and most of them have played before,” Garrison said. “They’re really good, and they pick up on things pretty quickly.”
“Seeing from where these freshmen are coming from this year, I’m looking at all of them, thinking, ‘Shoot, these guys are a lot further along then when I first set foot on the Frisbee field my freshman year,’” Gulbranson said.
According to Ironfist captain Mark Belvardi and Savage Skies cutter Abby Buffington, both teams have the season goal of going to nationals in the spring. Buffington said that one way they plan to get there is to be ready to play against different kinds of teams.
“We work on different types of defense in order to compete against the different teams that we’re playing,” Buffington said.
“For instance, we’ll play a man defense, where we just mark up one-on-one, or we will start strategizing and start working on our zone defense once we get more of our new players mixed in with our more experienced players at practice.”
Belvardi explained that the fall season is a great time to get the new players acclimated to the game so that they can be prepared to play when the stakes are high.
“I definitely would say that one of our big goals and challenges for this year is trying to get some players in the rotation and getting them that game experience early on,” Belvardi said. “Get them experience in the fall so that they can contribute in the spring when it really matters.”
In light of the team chemistry aspect, Belvardi also emphasized the importance of knowing everyone on the team at a personal level. He stated that how well the players know each other as people have a huge impact on how the team functions on the field.
“We’ve kind of made an intentional goal this semester just to try and focus on building trust off the field,” Belvardi said.
“It is easier to understand how they’re thinking and how they see things if you understand how they see things as an individual. The personality of a person really is apparent in the way they play and the way they think, so understanding that part is really important.”
Overall, both teams are pleased with how they have been developing and can tangibly see success in the future of the season.
“I think it’s going really well,” Buffington said. “Hopefully they come to like Frisbee as much as we do and we’ll have a good mixture of the old and new players in order to keep good plays going for our tournaments.”
“In the fall, (we want to) really develop depth with our rookies as well as keep our skill level up as returners and vets,” Gulbranson said.
“That’s probably our biggest goal besides having a blast and keeping everyone coming back and having a good time, because when you have fun, you play better.”