The men’s ultimate frisbee team, Detox, began their journey to Nationals by playing two tournaments in February: the Stanford Open Feb. 10–11 in Morgan Hill, California, and the SoCal Mixer Feb. 24 in Claremont, California. They went 3–4 at the Stanford Open and 4–1 at the SoCal Mixer. Their regular season record stands at 7–5.
Coach Nathan Warden attributed the Stanford Open loss to a depleted roster. Co-captain Kade Cheatham (senior) could not make the tournament due to tryouts for a professional ultimate frisbee team, and four additional players sat out due to minor injuries. Despite the result, Warden was impressed by the performance of the team’s younger players, as was co-captain Adam Grammer (senior), who believes that having that experience is crucial.
“It’s definitely been beneficial in the long run for the younger players to have that time to improve, now that we’re starting to build toward the postseason,” Grammer said.
The SoCal Mixer provided a better result since the team beat everyone except their biggest rival, the Claremont consortium. Cheatham admitted that the loss hurt, but noted that the game was close. He said it gives them a good reference for where the team is at, and what they still need to work on. Cheatham thinks that the team still has room to grow on defense. He said that there is no reason the team should lose if they play strong defense.
“I consider having the best defense as a sign that you’re never going to lose,” Cheatham said. “I think that can be true across all sports, it’s definitely true for us.”
In ultimate frisbee, the spring semester differs heavily from the fall, according to Warden. The fall is the preseason and mostly spent on fundamentals, as the team gets players who have never played organized ultimate frisbee before. Because of this, Warden said that some players drop out because they start to see that the game is more difficult than they realized.
“It takes real athletes who are willing to put in the time to get in shape and learn the skills, systems and discipline to win against organized teams,” Warden said.
In the spring semester, the competition ramps up, and the proverbial training wheels come off, according to Warden. The tournaments become more competitive and teams attempt to make Nationals.
“[The spring semester] is more fun to coach in my opinion because the tournaments are stronger, only the committed members of your team are left standing and you can teach those committed members advanced techniques and sets,” Warden said. “Generally the game is just more fun to watch. When a full team knows how to throw and understands the game, it’s much better viewing.”
Warden gives the team an A-plus for the fall semester and a B-minus for the spring. The team exceeded his expectations in the fall by winning their first tournament in five years and recruiting a strong rookie class. The spring resulted in solid, but not championship-level play.
“We’re getting into the grinding part of the season that isn’t as glamorous,” Warden said. “It’s about putting in disciplined work, energy and fun into practices now which is a tough thing to do.”
Warden says that qualifying for Nationals boils down to beating Claremont in the Southwest Conference Championships, which will take place April 14–15 at either Occidental or Claremont. For now, Cheatham said that the team’s passion excites him.
“During the tournaments and outside of the tournaments, there’s just a general sense of enthusiasm for the sport,” Cheatham said. “It makes playing the sport more exciting and more fun to be a part of.”