Correction 12/8: A previous headline for this article said that Ultimate Frisbee and Quidditch are the only national qualifying club teams on campus. This was incorrect, and the headline has since been updated.
Rarely can the words “Nationals Qualifying” and “UR sports” be said in the same sentence, but both the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee and Women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams have made the impossible happen. As soon as UR finals end, the EZs (women’s) and Piggies (men’s) will be traveling to Norco, California for the national USA Ultimate College Championships to be held on Dec. 17-20.
This will be the first time in Rochester history that either team has qualified for nationals since their establishment in the mid-to-late ’80s. During a typical season, the Piggies and EZs participated in sanctioned tournaments to get their seeding to advance to sectionals, to then move on to win Metro East regionals. While both teams have made it to regionals, this is the first time they’ve gotten a bid to nationals. Since the Metro East region is one of the smaller ones in the league, there is only one bid offered to the entire division, emphasizing that both teams had to continue to win in order to secure their bid.
Both teams emphasized the importance of the culture that they have dutifully tried to create and credit much of it to how they did so well in regionals.
“When we beat Colgate, they weren’t having fun,” junior and Captain Ben Kelley, who is in the middle of his fourth year with the team, said. He emphasized that the cheering on the sidelines from their team, which had just took in a large class of rookies who had little to no experience playing, was part of the reason morale could stay high during the game.
Both the men’s and the women’s team emphasized the importance of rookies on their teams. The Piggies and EZs both have worked hard to make their teams inclusive and welcoming for new players. The EZs talked about their efforts to involve those who might not know about Frisbee by throwing on the quad during orientation and encouraging others to join them in playing. The lingo and nicknames that they use exclusively seem to echo that.
Despite the loss of the spring 2020 championships due to COVID-19, this out of the ordinary winter championship seems to make up for it. Both teams will be heading to California in the next week or so; however, uniform logistics have prevented the Piggies from being eligible for postseason funding, and a rather short notice trip to so close to Los Angles can be expensive for college kids. In order to supplement the costs to attend nationals for members, both the EZs and Piggies started crowdfunding to raise money. Both groups passed their individual goals of $10,000 in under a week.
In a show of the UR Ultimate Frisbee’s community, alumni who hadn’t played with the seniors currently on the team have contributed to their crowdfunding goal along with friends and family.
With this unconventional wintertime nationals, the Piggies and EZs will also be competing in their regular spring season, which could mean that this won’t be the only time this school year UR Ultimate Frisbee qualifies for nationals.