Tucked away in Eagle Field with discs sailing through the air, the ultimate frisbee team has been making great strides through the spring. Despite a novice-dominated roster and skilled opponents, camaraderie and fun complement a team that rose to challenges and developed foundational skills.
This year’s ultimate team is different from last year’s.
“Last year was a very senior-dominated team. We had a bunch of seniors, some juniors, and some sophomores and freshmen,” Fifth Former Kiran Mistry said. “This year, we have a much bigger breadth. We don’t have many seniors, but a lot of sophomores, and a good number of juniors and freshmen.”
Mistry, alongside Fifth Former Matthew Franz, is co-captain of the ultimate frisbee squad this year. Because of the large pool of new players, this year has been about introducing the game and developing skills.
“This has been a building year,” Mistry said. “We are basically getting everyone out of being able to throw, being able to catch, and being able to play on the field.”
Coaches Dr. Andrew Fenton, Mr. Samuel Walters, and Teacher Louie Brown have observed the team rising to the challenge.
“We only have three or four guys returning back to our squad, so we only have three experienced players,” Coach Fenton said. “That being said, the team has been learning a lot, they are very athletic, and they have learned a huge amount. I have seen and remarked on how much improvement they have shown.”
Because much of the team is new to the sport, games have posed some challenges.
“There are still a lot of things to learn,” Mistry said. “We are 1-3.” The regular season is by a Cities Tournament with schools around the region.
What can also pose a challenge to developing frisbee skills is that there are simply not many frisbee tournaments and game opportunities. For the division the ultimate frisbee team plays, COVID has ravaged potential opponents’ programs.
“Some of those teams have just disappeared—the teams that we have historically played against. I am hoping that they will come back, [and] I am hoping that they will be able to find a place either in that division or in another game,” Coach Fenton said. “We can hopefully build a culture of ultimate like some of these other sports [at Haverford].”
“One of the things I love about this team this year is that they have a huge amount of heart. They play with heart and they play with love. “Coach Fenton
However, despite this year’s lighter schedule and game struggles, the team’s brotherhood has held true.
“One of the things I love about this team this year is that they have a huge amount of heart. They play with heart and they play with love. And I want to see that,” Coach Fenton remarked. “It’s a team that is just out there having fun.”
Mistry agrees. He believes it’s in the culture of ultimate teams, both at and outside of Haverford.
“The biggest part about [ultimate] frisbee that is different from other sports is that it’s [not only] a team sport, but it becomes a collective sport. You want to see the other team do well. You do not want to humiliate them. It’s about wanting everyone to have fun,” he said.
And for Coach Brown, this fun, mutually respectful culture has been the backbone of the team’s positivity and progress this year.
“I think playing sports and the sports culture can be very contentious and over-focused on winning, which is important,” Coach Brown said, “but it made me really, really proud just to see the team being really wholesome and working really hard for each other for the love of the game. That was the highlight for me so far.”