No snow and plenty of room to throw. That was the ideal scenario for Macalester’s men’s and women’s frisbee teams as they began Spring Break. They were in luck as the High Tide Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in Brunswick, GA welcomed them for the sixth consecutive year.
Following fruitful fall seasons, the men’s and women’s teams had been practicing once a week indoors for the past four months. High Tide marked the teams’ 2013 return to the outdoors and the windy conditions that come with it. The multi-day tournament began on Monday with a hat tournament that was played between spontaneously-created teams composed of players from any of the teams competing in the tournament. Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of a six-game pool play tournament which determined the teams that qualified for the championship bracket that was played on Thursday.
Pursesnatchers profit from high turnout, perform well with two teams
Finding enough ladies to make the trip down to oceanside St. Simons Island, Georgia over break was not a problem for the women’s team. Twenty-eight women showed up for the tournament. This record-high showing forced team captains Rachel Huck ’13 and Carey Hert ’13 to make a difficult decision. They chose to split the team into two evenly-skilled teams, Octopus and Puss in Boots. “Who are we to deny anyone the chance to come hang out and get down in the warm sun after being pummeled by the Minnesota winter?” Huck said.
This risky decision paid off. The teams combined to finish with a 9-5 record, and even more importantly to the captains, the young players showed dramatic improvement throughout the tournament. “Even though we might have won more games had all the most experienced players been on one team, the split was a super important investment for the future and made it a more positive experience for everyone,” Hert said.
“Georgia is really where all the magic happens,” Huck said. “There is something about eating cheesy eggs every morning, partying every night and skinny dipping in the ocean that makes for vast improvement in everybody’s skills.”
Team newcomer Julia Turner ’16 said the combination of warm weather, good competition and fun times with the team made the trip her best spring vacation yet. “Spring breaks in high school only involved visiting family on the East Coast or staying at home and relaxing,” she said. “This was much different and much more exciting and wonderful.”
Hert said that one of the most challenging aspects of outdoor play was the added element of high wind conditions and down-pouring rain. She praised the team’s first-time handlers for their poise in competition. “There’s a lot of pressure put on this position, and they stayed cool and collected and were really great sports about it,” she said.
While the Pursesnatchers turned in a successful showing in tournament play, Huck was just as proud of the team’s fun non-competitive endeavors. This ranged from wearing cheetah suits and jumpsuits to taking a dance break in the middle of one of their games. “We always win the party wherever we go without fail,” Huck said.
According to Hert, a trip highlight was the car ride back, which included a food tour of the best restaurants in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and Madison. “What could be better?” she said. “Literally nothing. Maybe the smells inside the car.”
Blue Monkeys come back from early loss to qualify for championship round
After losing their first tournament game to the University of Connecticut, the men’s team turned in a good showing. They defeated University of Massachusetts-Amherst by forfeit and then swept past Johns Hopkins and SUNY-Geneseo and then shutdown highly-touted Rutgers before losing to Princeton.
This 4-2 pool play record qualified the monkeys for the championship bracket of the tournament. Although they lost their first championship game to University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and were eliminated from the bracket, team captain Graham Sutherland ’13 said he was happy with the team’s effort, proclaiming this year’s team the best in his four years at Macalester. “We came into the tournament seeded much lower,” he said. “I was pleased we did better than expected.”
The week wasn’t just frisbee for the Monkeys, though. “The only rule of Spring Break is ‘Don’t Die,’” Sutherland said. “A secondary rule is ‘Don’t get arrested,’ but that one gets broken every once in awhile.”
Sutherland described one tradition involving their team mascot, a 35-pound gorilla statue that the first-year Monkeys attempt to protect from the first-year Snatchers. “[The Snatchers] always end up getting it because we get distracted and forget, whereas they are determined and sneaky,” Sutherland said. “Normally it’s returned to us a day or two later, frequently dressed in some sort of hideous clothing.”
For first-year and first-time frisbee player Tom Wakin ’16, the team’s spring break adventure proved to be a memorable experience. “It was really fun,” Wakin said. “I’d never been on a really long road trip and we were driving for about 22 hours and that was crazy.”
Wakin credits the ultimate team as being a critical part of his college experience. “I’m very proud to be on the Macalester team,” he said. “I love it. I love Macalester. It’s hard to separate the two. My Macalester experience is very much involved with my frisbee experience, and my frisbee experience is very much involved with my Macalester experience. It’s all very positive.”
Sutherland said that the team’s ability to perform well and have fun makes it unique in comparison to other teams. “Some teams have trouble finding the balance between being a goofy team that likes to have fun and being a competitive team that’s only trying to win, and moving too far to one side of the spectrum either results in never winning games or never having fun,” he said. “For us, I think we’ve got a group of guys that like to mess around and have fun, but also a group that really likes to win.”
The Pursesnatchers and Blue Monkeys hit the home stretch of their season as the calendar turns to April. They compete in the Sectional Tournament on Apr. 14-15, which could potentially qualify them for Regionals and then Nationals. Barring a late-postseason run, both teams will close out their seasons on May 4, competing in their highly-attended semi-annual match-up versus Summit Avenue rival St. Thomas in the Mac-Tommie Cup at Macalester Stadium.