Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fresh Reign

PLU Ultimate team builds foundation with first-years

By Sam Horn, Sports Reporter

While the football team takes over Foss Field and the lacrosse team secures control over the soccer fields Fridays, one sport is relegated to the torn up football fields: the Pacific Lutheran men’s Ultimate Team.

Coached by Dave Hirotaka, a PLU alumnus, the team holds a 4-2 record.

Having played one tournament so far, the team is gearing up for their next tournament in in the Sun Dodger Tournament in Burlington, in which 30 schools will participate. With only one senior on the team this year, the team is in a rebuilding state with many first-years and sophomores taking part in the club sport.

“We have a fairly young team, but we have a lot of athletic talent,” Bernie Anderson, the only senior on the team, said.

Even though the team is young, team captain junior Ryan ‘Beanz’ Mitchell said he is content with the players’ attitudes toward the game.

“Even though we only have one senior, we came back this summer and the attitudes of our players changed in a good way,” Mitchell said. “Instead of learning, we’re in a rebuilding phase and we know what we have to do to win.”

“In the past two years, our chemistry hasn’t been there, but this year, we’re more of a family than a team,” Mitchell said. “Because of that, our playing is improved.”

Known as “Reign,” the Ultimate team was originally founded in 2001. In 2009, the men’s Ultimate Team had tremendous success, taking fifth in nationals.

Many PLU alumni have represented their alma mater at national ultimate competitions. These individuals have been captains while attending PLU.

First-year Joe Basler played badminton and wrestled in high school, but has transitioned to the game of ultimate.

“They [our captains] are very helpful and they can pull you aside and show you the ropes of the game if you’re struggling,” Basler said.

The object of Ultimate is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to end zones in American football or rugby. Players may not run with the disc and may only move one foot – called pivoting - while holding the disc.

According to cnbc.com, there were 4.9 million ultimate players in the U.S. in 2008.

Most players on Reign have prior athletic experience and have found interest in the game of ultimate.

“I played just about every sport in high school and it [ultimate] was something new but still competitive and once I started to get the hang of it, I enjoyed it,” Anderson said.

“Our team is very motivated and we know what it takes to win,” Mitchell said.