NU Ultimate Frisbee team soars to national club finals

Evelio Contreras

With nicknames like Tricia “the Testosterone” Huie and Beth “the Toe Drag” Lopour, the women’s ultimate Frisbee team sounds more like a gang of vicious bodybuilders than Midwest regional champions.

And after pummeling rival University of Chicago 13-1 early in the regionals, it’s easy to see how the nicknames fit.

Clinching the regional title with a win against Ohio University, women’s Frisbee will make their first appearance in the Ultimate Players Association college championships in Boston on May 25.

“We’re definitely an underdog for nationals,” said Courtney Bethem, co-captain and Weinberg senior. “We’re playing the best women in the nation. It’s very competitive.”

NU women’s Frisbee is ranked 11th in the nation, a far cry from last place two years ago. Frisbee coach Nancy Glass has high hopes for national competition.

“The team has a great work ethic, and they respect each other,” Glass said. “Our goal at nationals is to break into the top eight to get ourselves into a position where anything can happen in the play-offs.”

The 2001 women’s Frisbee team has made long strides in attaining varsity sport status, co-captain Shelly Peyton said.

With half of the team made up of freshmen and only two players graduating this year, women’s Frisbee should maintain its winning ways next year, said Meriden D’Arcy, a Speech freshman.

“Regionals was really good,” D’Arcy said. “We had five games in a row last Saturday, and with 16 people on our team, we always have fresh legs (ready) to go. With so many people on sidelines, it’s really a lift for our team.”

Ultimate Frisbee became popular on college campuses during the 1960s and later gained a large following on the Internet. In 1998 the women’s Frisbee team gained recognition as a club sport at NU. Earlier, ultimate Frisbee was coed, with men outnumbering women.

On Tuesday night women’s Frisbee practiced with the majority of the players arriving 15 minutes early. The players threw Frisbees while sharing jokes and stories as part of their preparation for Boston.

“Our team name this year is Gung-Ho,” said Peyton, a McCormick junior. “It means, ‘working together.’ We are very together – one spirit, one voice.”

Part of the team’s success comes from the closely knit friendships it has developed during the year, said Christine Cheng, a Weinberg freshman.

“It’s so much fun,” Cheng said. “Everyone gets along well. People want to go to practice and want to go to games. We hang out all the time – it defines our team.”

When not at practice, teammates meet for dinner, watch “Survivor II” on a regular basis and send e-mails to each other, Cheng said.

But in its three-year history as a club sport, women’s Frisbee has yet to earn respect at NU, team members said.

“Most people don’t really know it’s an established sport,” said Nancy Ketsche, a Weinberg junior. “When I tell people we played at Notre Dame, they look shocked. A lot of people just think it’s fun or cute. There’s a national organization out there!”

Rather than rest this weekend, women’s Frisbee is practicing throws and techniques.

D’arcy said the team is successful because everyone respects and cares about each other.

“This is the first weekend we have this quarter without a tournament,” D’arcy said. “Shelly sent out an e-mail scheduling practice. I think the e-mail said it all: ‘What would we do without a weekend of ultimate?'”