A successful season cut short: Men’s Ultimate Frisbee

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Courtesy of the Northwestern Men’s Ultimate Team

The team at the Santa Barbara Invite in January. They placed 11th out of 25 teams.

Haley Fuller, Engagement Editor

In early March, the Northwestern Men’s Ultimate Team was running around at practice, throwing and catching in preparation for the Midwest Throwdown. They joked around, giving each other air high-fives as fear of the coronavirus increased.

Just a few days later, the rest of their season was canceled.

Although this isn’t an unusual story due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the A-team, called NUT, was just about to enter its postseason and compete in its conference championships for a chance to go to regionals and the College Championships after a strong start to the spring season.

They placed 11th out of 19 teams at the Santa Barbara Invite, in the top half of 25 teams at the Florida Warm Up and won the Midwest Throwdown in Columbia, Missouri just three days before Northwestern announced the delayed, remote start to Spring Quarter.

Senior captain Keith Bohrer is disappointed that his final season was cut short, but said he’s glad they finished strong.

“None of us knew while we were playing that (that) tournament was going to be our last one, but it’s cool that we kind of got to end on a high note,” he said.

The team’s ultimate goal was to make it to the College Championships, which they have accomplished just once, back in 2018. While there’s no way to know what might have happened, the team has made regionals most years since 2000, and their second-place ranking in the Great Lakes region this year just behind Michigan made them contenders for a bid to the College Championships.

“I can’t say that we definitely would’ve won or we definitely would’ve lost against Michigan, but I think a lot of us had aspirations to beat Michigan and go to nationals,” senior captain George Irving said. “I don’t know what would have happened, but our team had been on the up and up for the whole year so it was unfortunate that we didn’t get to see what would have happened there.”

To stay connected, the team has had to pivot from their three two-hour practices and two workouts per week, but have increased the use of their already active Slack channels, sending photos of themselves once they finish throwing or working out. Additionally, they held Zoom calls with the women’s team over Spring Break, when they typically take a trip and cheer at each other’s tournaments.

Irving said the end of his ultimate career didn’t seem real to him until Sunday at the team’s end-of-year banquet, which they held over Zoom. He said it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get to have a final moment on the field with his fellow seniors, especially because of the passion he’s developed for the sport and the team over the past four years.

While Bohrer echoes his teammate’s sentiment, he also mentioned that he felt bad for the freshmen who had their first season cut short.

“They don’t get to experience the entire season,” he said. “Part of that is what drew me in so much my first year and really feeling how much the senior class cared when it got to the late season.”

Despite the season ending early, the team is looking toward the future. First-year Conner Goodwin, a member of the B-team (called BOLT), is excited to see everyone again back on campus and how much the team has improved.

“I definitely look forward to getting back at it and just competing again, seeing how much our personal game is progressing and how we build as a team as well,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to that and just getting back into the community.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @haley_fuller_

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