Club Sports: Ohio ultimate frisbee fights for first

The Ohio Bobcats Ultimate Frisbee team will travel out to Boulder, Colo. this weekend to compete in the USA Ultimate College Championships for the first time since the inception of the tournament in 1984.

Ohio’s squad is ranked 13th out of the 20 teams invited and will be placed in a pool with teams from Oregon, Minnesota, North Carolina and Georgia Tech.

“These are all teams that we’ve played either this year or last year,” senior Andy Ball said. “We’re ready to go in and take one of the top three seeds in the pool and advance to bracket play.”

The team has set a goal as being one of the top eight teams, which requires a win in the quarterfinals of the tournament. It’s a goal that would be a huge step for the program and would be attainable, Ball said.

For coach Todd Grace, the tournament means the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from his players.

“This team has been working towards this goal directly for at least the past three years,” Grace said. “Many of these players started out young with the expectation and goal of training for nationals.”

To build to this point, the players trained in the offseason by playing for club teams. The players also trained on a developmental squad with Ohio University Ultimate, which was designed with the sole purpose of developing the team to compete on the national level.

But what has separated this team from past teams was the strong sense of team unity that bonded them and detached players from individual goals.

“It has been all about getting the team where it needs to be,” graduate student Nick Wetzel said. “If it meant taking a roll that you didn’t want for yourself, but it helps the team, you take the role.”

The sense of unity is not limited to the playing field, Wetzel said. Although in earlier years the squad might split up and go their separate ways after practice, this team sticks together, even if it’s in less conventional ways.

“It’s not the healthiest thing for people who play a sport, but we all go to McDonalds on the weekend and just eat a bunch of McDoubles,” Wetzel said. “But it’s sort of a team-bonding thing, and we can stick together.”

After training hard for the previous two weeks, the team has toned down practice so that the players’ bodies are ready and they can catch up on school work that they’ll miss.

Sophomore Cody Petitt has only been to Colorado to ski, so he is looking forward to shedding the bindings and poles for cleats and Frisbees.

“I’ve never been for ultimate or a sport, so to speak,” Petitt said. “I know a lot of the seniors are really looking forward to it, so I want to perform well so the seniors can accomplish their goals.”

The Bobcats open play on Friday afternoon against Minnesota.

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