The women’s Ultimate Frisbee season has come to a close, following the regional tournament last weekend at Carleton College (Minn). The team earned third place in the competition, just two points shy of second place and a spot at nationals.
“We’ve actually come close to qualifying for the past three years,” said senior Robyn Fennig. “We’ve finished one spot short for the past three years, so I think next year, the team can definitely push to try to get to the ‘big show.'”
The women’s Ultimate Frisbee team has been around for only four years, Fennig said, so even though the players haven’t made it to nationals, their results have still been impressive.
“Currently, I think, we’re ranked in the top twenty,” she said. “Ultimate Frisbee’s different from other sports in the sense that there’s not a Division I, Division II or Division III, so we’re one of the smallest schools … that’s represented in the top twenty.”
Ultimate Frisbee has been a club sport at UW-Eau Claire for almost 10 years now, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that the women broke off to form a team of their own.
“The men’s division is actually called the open division,” Fennig said. “The open division, you … can have women on your team. It’s for schools that don’t have the funding or the numbers to have a separate entity for a women’s team.” She added that when it was evident that there was enough interest in a women’s team, they broke off, and the group has grown from seven to 23 women since the separation.
“To have that kind of growth in four years is pretty … extraordinary,” Fennig said.
Associate professor of psychology April Bleske-Rechek, the team’s adviser, said the players on the team have a wonderful attitude regarding competition.
“They have … captains who are committed to everybody growing and not just developing the advanced players,” she said. “… That is a common, I think, attitude in Ultimate – that you enjoy it so much that you want other people to play, and you’re not just focusing on, OK, these people who are the best on the team, let’s get them out there to the tournaments.”
She also said there’s a certain type of easygoing personality that goes into Ultimate Frisbee, and that may be due in part to a unique aspect of the sport – there are no referees.
“It’s all on your honor,” she said. “… Any foul is called by the person, or even by somebody else. … I think this leads to a lot of good feelings that people trust the opponents they’re playing against.”
Fennig agreed that the feelings of community associated with Ultimate Frisbee make it a really unique sport.
“Anywhere you go, you can find a group of Ultimate Frisbee players, and they’ll immediately become your friends,” she said. “… It’s kind of like a family, and I feel like everybody in this community is really concerned about giving back to the sport.”
This summer, the Eau Claire YMCA is putting together an Ultimate Frisbee league, which will run from the middle of June to the middle of August. The league includes two weeks of clinics for beginners. Bleske-Rechek said anyone interested in Ultimate Frisbee should consider signing up for the league on the YMCA website.
“I think there are players who would … like to go out for the team, but they don’t feel like they know anything,” she said. “Good way to start – to play this summer.”
Bleske-Rechek and Fennig would both like to increase the interest in Ultimate Frisbee in the surrounding community. Fennig said the team works with some high schools and elementary schools in the area to get girls involved in the sport.
“We’re really trying to grow Ultimate not just at the university level, but also in the community,” Bleske-Rechek said. “… Sometimes the players leave, and we need to have a core in the community that can keep it going for the new ones.”