Club Close-Up: Men’s ultimate frisbee club

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Gianna Fussell, Sports Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has a Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club for those who are interested in joining the sport, or want to continue playing the sport. Jake Johnston, a senior and a political science major with a minor in Spanish, said he got involved with the club through a family friend. “I had a family friend who went to La Crosse before I did, and my senior year he gave me a disc with the team’s logo on it. He said, ‘hey, you have to come tryout.’ I made the decision to join and haven’t regretted it. It’s been awesome,” said Johnston. He also mentioned that he didn’t play in high school and has now played all four years he’s been at UWL.

The Ultimate Frisbee Club, which is a Division I team for USA Ultimate (USAU), competes and practices all year round. In the fall, the season goes from September to November. Practices fall on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights on the turf at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The team tries to use the turf as long as they can before transitioning into Mitchell Hall for the winter months. Monday nights are from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday nights are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This year, the team has 27 members. Benjamin Thom is currently in his second year of graduate school in the school psychology program that UWL offers and is a member of the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club. “We welcome everybody,” Thom said, “There are no cuts, you put in the time you want, and your playing time will reflect that, and your skills will reflect that.”

During the fall season, there are three tournaments. For the fall 2022 season, the first tournament was in Milwaukee, which was a bigger tournament as around 32 teams attended. These teams were from all around the Midwest region. This past weekend was their second tournament held in Eau Claire. Eau Claire’s tournament had 16 teams, and usually, each team has seven players on the field at a time. Each tournament is for two days, with multiple games on both Saturday and Sunday. The players pack into their cars to drive to the tournaments and may stay the night in a hotel if the game is far away or may stay with family if their family is near. The following fall tournament is scheduled in Missouri.

For the spring season, the team plays from March until May, with around three or four games, including one game played in the dome in the cities. “We’re also trying to get together to host one here,” Thom said. The team plays their regular season and then plays the conference tournament. Based on their wins and losses during the conference tournament, the teams are ranked. The teams that qualify have the opportunity to play at the regional tournament and then if they continue to qualify, at nationals. Last year, the team went on to play at the regional tournament. “Just making it is our biggest goal as a team, especially as a small school that’s still playing against those big schools, like UW-Madison and the University of Minnesota,” Thom said.

Thom is the “Bad Dad” of the team, which is similar to a cheer captain. He was elected to the position by his teammates. “I like uplifting people,” Thom said, “All sports are really about the moral behind it. If your team is down on themselves, they’re not going to perform as well. It’s a great position to have to keep them up.”

Johnston was the president last year and is the captain this year. “My freshman year, I saw the guy who recruited me to be on the team, he was the vice president at the time. I always looked up to him as someone I could go to ask questions about anything on campus or have an upperclassman to look up to in general, so I wanted to be that guy for every other freshman or any other person on the team. Just be someone who can be relied on and be that person on and off the field for those who are having a hard time acclimating to college.”

Both Johnston and Thom said that the team has great comradery. “Just everybody being so welcoming, and goofy. People don’t get too cocky and try to keep that down. It’s not toxic masculinity. It’s just having a good time,” Thom said. “Whether it’s with our guys on the team or the guys we play against, the comradery is great,” Johnston said.

The sport is self-officiated so the players have to work out problems or rules within themselves. “That sort of respect for your teammates and your competitors is what I love about it so much. We’re all just there to have a good time and compete,” said Johnston.

Thom said his advice for people playing ultimate frisbee anywhere is “To just have fun. Everybody wants you to have fun. If you’re committed, work to get better, but you don’t have to commit. It’s made for fun.”

If you’re interested in joining the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club Team or have questions, their MyOrg site is linked here.