BY CHRIS HOOKER, SPORTS EDITOR
To most of us, Susquehanna’s Ultimate Frisbee team is that group of students throwing around the disc on Smith lawn every afternoon.
For senior and co-captain Cody Hoellerman, it’s much more than that.
“It’s definitely not a typical sports team,” Hoellerman said. “We have a lot of fun practices. What I try to tell most people is that we are all about having fun, but we are very competitive.”
That attitude has paid off. The club team is 12-1 this season, with successful tournament finishes that included a first-place berth at Gettysburg in the fall and a second-place finish at the University of Delaware in the spring semester.
Their final tournament of the year is coming this weekend, where they will play schools like Bloomsburg and Kutztown.
Ultimate isn’t like playing on a varsity sport, where fans flock the stands, home games are advertised and occur often, knowledge of the rules is universally known and coaches roam the sidelines and research opponents in their offices, trying to take down rival schools in the Landmark Conference.
The notoriety and the championship banners don’t have much of a place in the world of club Ultimate.
“It’s pretty cool to fly a little under the radar,” Hoellerman said. “It’s been interesting to see how the sport has grown, especially since my freshman year there was only 15 or 16 kids on the team.”
Since that time, Ultimate has between 30 and 35 regular, committed athletes for Hoellerman, and his fellow senior co-captains Alex Guarco and Matt Kliesh, to create a solid starting lineup. Next year, the now co-ed team will split, as they now have enough interested women to field their own squad, a feat that was led by Clarissa Dubie, but, according to Hoellerman, a complete group effort.
Without a doubt, the final Ultimate weekend is going to be a bittersweet one for Hoellerman.
“I’ve been on the team for four years,” he said. “I actually started playing in high school. One of the things that drew me to Susquehanna was that I knew they had an Ultimate team. I was on a tour here and I saw them practicing on the field and thought, ‘Oh yeah, definitely putting this place at the top of the list.’ I came out freshman year and really liked the group of people there and just stuck with it.”
Being that four-year, experienced veteran presence has not only put him in a captain and top-player role, but also in the position of being a coach.
“A lot of people come out [for the team] and think, ‘Oh, I’m just playing Frisbee in the field,’ but they don’t realize that Ultimate is a legitimate sport.”
And those tough practices are nothing to slouch at.
“That’s one of the things I tried to chance [as captain]. In the past, we’ve just been going out and playing, which I am all for, but there is a lot of work that you need to put in,” Hoellerman said. “Now, we start out, do some conditioning, stretch as a team, and depending on what we need to work on, we’ll do different drills that focus on throwing, cutting, catching. People always want to scrimmage, because that is the fun part, but it’s like, we need to get our skills down first before we can play.”
Especially when a big tournament is coming up, practices and skill refinement get even more intense.
“We practice more the week leading up to the tournament,” he said. “I look at who puts in a lot of work in practice, to see who is getting a lot of playing time that weekend. That is when I become cognisant of what we need to work on as a team to get ready for the tournament. Again, because we don’t have a coach, it’s my responsibility to make sure we are ready.”
With the season wrapping up, Ultimate is always looking for new faces and talent to bring aboard their team. It’s going to be fun, Hoellerman said, but it doesn’t come without its share of sweat and blood.
“People come out and think we are just here to throw around and have fun, but there is a lot of work we put in,” Hoellerman said. “That’s probably the one thing that I’d want people to know.”
Next year, the team president will be junior Brian Zuidervliet. Please contact him with any interest or questions in joining the team in the fall.