The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Blue Monkeys and Purse Snatchers know how to Chill-out

By Daniel Kerwin

To understand what it’s like to play college Ultimate Frisbee, all you need to know is that tomorrow the men’s team is going to play a tournament called the “Eau Claire Ultimate Chill-out.” They’ve already played a tournament called “Elephantitus” at Grinnell College and a tournament called “Hucktoberfest” in Whitewater, Wis.

“They all have funny names; Frisbee players like that,” Captain Jon Smucker ’08 said.

In light of these circumstances, the name of the men’s team, the Blue Monkeys, makes perfect sense. The name of the women’s team is even more matter of fact: the Purse Snatchers.

“Being a Monkey is like being part of a tradition, there is a Monkey-ness,” Zach Johnson ’08 said. “When we were first-years we learned from the seniors to compose ourselves and be sweet all of the time.”

Being a member of Mac Ultimate Frisbee doesn’t mean you have to make sense; you
don’t have to make sense to have fun.

The Blue Monkeys and the Purse Snatchers practice on the remnants of Shaw Field, now just a narrow strip of grass beside the MARC construction site. Every so often the Frisbee will drift toward the construction site, the intended receiver drifting over with it.

“Don’t go for that! Stop! STOP!”

To Dan Herrera ’09 this phrase has become second nature. Making a catch while crashing into a construction barrier would make quite a catch, but to Herrera, the Junior Captain, such mindless risks are not what being a Blue Monkey is all about.

Herrera defected from Hockey to Ultimate when he was in high school; he cared about winning, but his high school ultimate team allowed him to focus more on the fun of the game.

“Mac’s even a little more about fun and a little less about winning than my high school was,” Herrera said. “We do play to win, but mostly because winning is more fun than losing.”

Both teams set goals to reach the Regional Finals in the spring, so there is a goal to work toward.

he Purse Snatchers are gradually becoming more skilled at the winning aspect of the game. This past weekend they finished 7th out of 16 teams at a tournament called Exit 69 in Northfield. In September they placed 4th in a tournament, beating the University of Iowa in the process.

Tournaments are played in a two-day format. The first day the format is group play; on the second day you’re either sent into the championship bracket if you do well during group play, or the chumpionship bracket if you don’t.

The Purse Snatchers have gotten to a stage where they dominate group play, but are trounced once they get into the championship bracket. The Blue Monkeys have had differing levels of success.

“We have won a few championships in our day,” Smuckers said. “Not many championships though.”

Perhaps the most impressive feat in the Blue Monkey’s storied past was when they beat UW Madison four year ago, who were then the reigning national champions. It was a rainy match with little skill, the warmer team having the advantage in the game. That day, the Monkeys were warmer.

When being warm is not enough of a strategy, the Blue Monkeys are sprinting all over the field. They tend to sprint faster than their opponents, but a side effect is that they get worse as the day goes on.

“Outside of nationals, it doesn’t get significantly more explosive than us,” Herrera said.

On both teams, about half the players played Ultimate in high school, but it doesn’t make too much of a difference for those that didn’t. You just have to be committed to the team.

Julie Green ’10 is a member of the crew team as well as co-captain of the Snatchers, doing both sports during the same season. That’s a pretty Ultimate commitment.

“It’s a great way to let everything out,” Greene said. “You let it out on the field, have fun together and be competitive.”

“The two teams together create a great community,” Anna Goldberg ’08 said, the Snatchers other co-captain.

The teams plan to train indoors during the winter, and they also go on an annual spring break trip to Savannah, Ga., keeping this community together year round. In Savannah, they stay in a beach house, practice and play in a tournament called “High Tide”, coming back far better players. This trip is almost the epitome of both teams’ emphasis of commitment to the sport, enjoying it all the while.

“You need to have commitment, you need to be a little bit insane and you need to go all out and be all about greatness,” Johnson said. “It’s also about just having fun, the more fun the better you play.”

What’s not fun for the teams is their cramped practice area.

“This building here has ruined my college experience in Frisbee,” Smuckers said, looking over toward the MARC site. “They don’t care about green spaces or open spaces at all on campus anymore. What’s wrong with some nice grass?”

Next year the Monkeys and Snatchers will be able to play on the newly renovated softball and baseball fields; at least they’ll have a field, but it will never be the same as the Shaw Field of yore.

On Nov. 2, Macalester will host the Mac-Tommy Cup, a friendly competition between the two schools. The Monkey’s B team and the Monkey’s A team will play St. Thomas’ PurpleReign, and the Snatchers will play St. Thomas’ GoodNPlenty under the lights in Macalester Stadium.

In the Monkey’s Ultimate Chill-out this weekend, 4 of the top 15 teams in the country will be playing. During practice the players are pumped; they know they’re going to own the tournament. Then they pull back; yeah, they realize they probably won’t own it. They’ll pretty much just play their game and see what happens.

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