At Case Western Reserve University, varsity sports are not a top focus for many students—and club sports often occupy even less attention.
But the Spartan athletic tradition is tangible for those who seek it, and no sport represents the success of CWRU sports better than the Ultimate Frisbee Club.
The Ultimate Frisbee Club has about 100 members divided into three teams, a men’s competitive team, a men’s developmental team and a women’s team, each with one to two coaches. According to the club’s constitution, “We exist to provide the students of CWRU an opportunity to learn about and play competitive ultimate on the college level. We will teach, train, and travel with any current students, faculty, or staff who are interested in learning about and/or playing ultimate.”
However, the club’s real value lies more in community-building than in the actual competition, according to third-year student and vice president Ben Alexander.
“We promote close social bonds between members of all three teams and really function as a welcoming and supportive community within the larger community of CWRU,” Alexander said.
Alexander is a member of the men’s competitive team and said the team looks poised for a big year in the spring. Each fall, the team adds new members and travels to some preseason tournaments (the regular season officially begins January 1). The Fighting Gobies, the team’s nickname, began this year’s preseason at the Steel City Showdown on Oct. 5 and 6. The team won four of their six games that weekend, beating the likes of University of Pittsburgh and Rutgers University, both of which qualified for the national tournament last season.
The impressive results are not that surprising, considering that the team only graduated two players from last year.
“While we still have a lot of issues to iron out, it was very promising,” Alexander said. “This is the best team we have had while I have been at CWRU and I’m super excited for where the season is going to go.”
The men’s competitive team has another tournament Nov. 2 and 3 in Missouri, and will hope to secure some more wins against high profile schools in the area.
The narrative is slightly different for the women’s team.
“We have a very new team this year, so we are trading competitiveness right now for building a solid foundation in order to be a stronger team when it matters in the spring,” third-year student Hayley Devine said. “As for our spring goals, we are going to wait to see what the team wants in the spring so we can all be united behind a common team goal.”
The team is very young. Of the 28 players on the team, 18 are in their first or second year at CWRU.
They hosted a tournament at CWRU and split into two teams, which finished first and second. At a tournament in Columbus called Fall Brawl, the Fighting Gobies finished in fifth, with wins over University of Cincinnati and Indiana University.
For both Alexander and Devine, the CWRU ultimate club has been instrumental in their college experience.
Devine said, “Within the women’s team, I have gained so many lifelong friendships and can rely on my team for support both on the field and off.” Alexander shared that feeling, adding, “From the second I joined I had a community to be a part of, friends to hang out with, a support network when things weren’t going well, a reason for exercising regularly, an outlet for my stress and my need for competition and the ability to play the sport I love.”
While the goal is to make it to the national tournament, the life-changing experiences the ultimate club provides are invaluable.