Ultimate Frisbee Heads to Nationals

By ALYSSA BROWN

COURTESY PHOTO
The men’s ultimate frisbee team qualified for Nationals for the second year in a row, currently seeded first.

After a thrilling regular season, both the women’s and men’s ultimate frisbee teams earned their bids at New England D-III College Regionals last weekend by winning their pools on the first day of the tournament. The Middlebury Pranksters will be competing in the D-III College Championships, also known as Nationals, in College Station, Texas on May 18 and 19. 

During the 2019 season, the Pranksters attended College Southerns in Statesboro, Georgia, where both teams won their pools the first day and played competitively against teams like Carleton and University of North Carolina-Wilmington. There, the women’s team put up a fight against UNCW’s ruthless “Seaweed,” losing by just one point to the Division I team in a surprise fourth game. The men’s team placed second overall. At the end of the Pranksters’ brief escapade in the south, the women’s and men’s teams parted ways and competed in separate tournaments in Virginia. The men’s team played in the Atlantic Coast Open at Virginia Beach while the women participated in the I-85 Rodeo Tournament, also in Virginia. 

COURTESY PHOTO
The women’s ultimate frisbee team will travel to Nationals in Texas on May 18 and 19. Attribution: COURTESY PHOTO

The Pranksters worked incredibly hard this season. Sophomore Van Lundsgaard said, “We’re really excited for this opportunity to compete at a higher level and contend for the national championship, especially since both teams have had such phenomenal seasons. I feel like this is a testament to the work everyone puts into this community and it really is a collective accomplishment.” The men’s team enters the championship tournament ranked first in the nation (competing in the tournament for the second year in a row) and the women’s team is seeded fifth.

Senior captain Alex Forde reflected on his time on the team during his four years at Middlebury. “Every year of frisbee brings opportunities for new friendships and connections, but this year it felt even more heightened for me,” he said. Playing a club sport involves sacrifices and spending hours on solving logistical challenges, but for Forde, he and his teammates feel privileged to play a sport they all love. “We work hard, hold each other accountable, and dream big, while also always being willing to laugh at ourselves, accept and embrace quirkiness, and build great friendships with one another,” he said.

Not only have the Pranksters been refining their cuts and throws, they have also been nurturing each other and their strength as a community. Social Captain Lily Barter ’19.5 understands that, “Community doesn’t just happen. People have to put work into it to make it magical. Not just the people in charge, but everyone, otherwise it is unbalanced.” The entire team united in March for a community workshop in which players discussed team culture and barriers of inclusion that members of the team’s community might face. Barter explained her belief that not many other sports teams attempt to foster this kind of community and create awareness that makes space for potential change. Older team members were proud of their younger teammates’ willingness to engage with these topics and continue to support each other with respect, genuine kindness and openness. One of the many reasons the Pranksters are headed to Nationals includes the community that is forged by the captains and the rest of the team. This is a team where the players work as hard for their teammates as they do for themselves, express their love in every cheek-kiss and smile and reveal glimpses of their spirit with every song they sing. 

 “Proud doesn’t even begin to describe it,” commented Grace Kellogg ’22 on her reaction to earning the bid to the college championships. Qualifying for Nationals is just one of the many ways in which club sports at Middlebury are demonstrating their excellence in and dedication to their sport. With a growing community and deep team rosters, the team is excited to have made incredible strides this year, on and off the field. They are also looking for contributions to help make the trip to the tournament. To contribute, visit go/mensultimatenationals and go/womensultimatenationals. The Pranksters are ecstatic to be representing Middlebury in Texas this spring and hope you will tune in to their games online. Yee-haw!

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Ultimate Frisbee Heads to Nationals