On Easter Sunday, Occidental’s ultimate frisbee team — known as Detox — triumphed in the D-III Southwest Conference Ultimate Tournament on Occidental’s Patterson field, earning them a spot at this year’s nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. Detox managed to beat teams from both Caltech and Claremont, but not without a price for the team’s five seniors. This year’s national tournament clashes with Occidental’s graduation ceremony, leaving the seniors on the team with a difficult decision to make.
The team members were confident heading into to the contest, but were well aware of the tough competition players would face, particularly from Claremont who had dominated a budding rivalry with Occidental recently, according to Adam Grammer (junior).
“I knew it was going to be a difficult challenge as we have never won the Conference Finals in the seven years it has been in existence,” Grammer said. “The past couple years we have come close to winning and earning a bid to nationals, but eventually were defeated by Claremont each time.”
In Detox’s first game against Caltech, the team managed to come out on top with a 15-10 win. Sergio Rodriguez (senior) described how it was great to be able to give everyone on the roster some playing time.
In a back and forth matchup against Claremont that seemed as if it could go either way, the two teams found themselves locked at 13 apiece. It was crunch time for Detox in this first-to-15 game.
“The turning point happened on the next point. Greg Kleinman (first year) scored a Callahan — similar to an interception for a touchdown in football — to take the lead 14-13,” Grammer said. “With all the momentum on our side, we were able to generate a turnover the next point and converted a red zone opportunity to seal the win at 15-13.”
As the team celebrated, it dawned on a number of the team’s seniors that the victory presented them with the dilemma of potentially missing graduation. The graduation ceremony carries a different level of significance for each individual, and while for some the tournament is vital, for others graduation may be too important to miss.
“On the one hand, I’m a first-generation Mexican-American, so graduation means just as much to my parents as it does to me,” Luis Robles (senior) said. “Graduation isn’t just about me, but also about my family having their first college grad. On the other hand, Detox is the only sports team I’ve ever been part of. This group is like family to me. Ultimate has not only given me some of my best college memories but also helped me grow immensely over the past few years.”
Many members of the team have been forced into trying to make both events possible by flying back and forth across the country.
“I’d love to skip graduation completely,” Rodriguez said. “My mom, not so much. So we’re going to book plane tickets to accommodate a lot of players who are coming and going to different places for Nationals. I’m going to go for the one day on Saturday, which is pool play, with one game at the end that will decide our placement for Sunday. Then I’ll fly back Saturday night and hopefully get a few hours of sleep before graduation.”
Regardless of the difficult decision ahead, nothing can detract from what Detox has achieved so far. There will be an Occidental team at the national tournament and who can predict what this lesser-known squad will be able to achieve on such a grand stage.
“Regardless of what happens, I’m so proud of how far this team has come and I’ll always count joining Detox as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Robles said.