Northwestern women’s Frisbee team places 9th in national competition

McCormick graduate student Lien Hoffmann reaches for the disc. She is a member of the Northwestern womens club ultimate Frisbee team, which recently competed in Nationals.

Source: Gabriel Peal

McCormick graduate student Lien Hoffmann reaches for the disc. She is a member of the Northwestern women’s club ultimate Frisbee team, which recently competed in Nationals.

Amy Whyte, Reporter

The Northwestern women’s club ultimate Frisbee team was not expected to advance past regional competition, but that did not stop GungHo from making it all the way to Nationals.

GungHo is split into two squads, an “A” team and a “B” team consisting of mostly rookie players. Both play year-round, holding practices and attending tournaments each quarter. But competition gets “serious” in the spring, said Rose Gruenhagen, one of the team’s three captains.

This year, the “A” team competed and placed at the conference and regional levels before advancing to Nationals, where it tied for ninth place after losing in the pre-quarter finals.

“We’ve been to Nationals a few times but never placed this high before,” said Gruenhagen, a McCormick senior. “My rookie class is really big, and we were really driven. Now that we’re all seniors we decided that this is our year.”

The team set a goal at the beginning of the academic year to make it to the 2013 USA Ultimate College Championships. Once it placed first in regional competition, earning the region’s single invitation to nationals, Gruenhagen said the team got together and decided to aim higher, setting goals of placing at least ninth and outperforming its 18th-place seed.

“We came in seeded really low, and we all knew we could do better than that,” said Ellen McGrath, a thrower on the team. “We weren’t even predicted to win Regionals, so just the fact that we went to Nationals at all was kind of an upset. … That’s always really cool, to defy expectations.”

Players from the women’s “B” team and the men’s ultimate Frisbee team traveled to Madison, Wis. to cheer on the “A” team as it played in the tournament.

“Once they started playing, I knew we were gonna come out better than seeded,” said McCormick freshman Bridget Miles, who tagged along for the tournament. “You could tell they really wanted it.”

Gruenhagen and McGrath, a SESP junior, agreed the support from the “B” team and men’s team helped push them to play even harder.

“It’s just an example of what a supportive community there is for Frisbee at Northwestern,” Gruenhagen said. “It was great to have them on the sideline because it made us want to impress them.”

Although more than 10 players will graduate at the end of the academic year, McGrath said she is optimistic about the team’s future.

“I was very nervous about that a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been looking at all the talent we have coming up from the ‘B’ team, and I’m really impressed with it,” McGrath said.

The “B” team, like the “A” team, competes at the conference level against teams from schools such as the University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago. This year, the “B” team placed sixth, advancing to Regionals.

“As a ‘B’ team, we weren’t really meant to even make it to Regionals, so that was really unexpected but really exciting,” Miles said.

Gruenhagen said athough losing players will make advancing to Nationals more difficult, it does not rule out the possibility.

“If they put it to the grindstone and really work at it, which they seem anxious to do, they’re definitely going back,” Gruenhagen said.