Women’s frisbee, Code Beluga, prepares young team for tournament

BY LAUREN BEJZAK ’13
Editor-in-Chief

The College’s women’s ultimate frisbee team, Code Beluga, is co-sponsoring a home tournament this weekend Nov. 3 and 4 with the men’s team, the Narwhals. They have invited nine teams to participate in the 12th annual F&M Tournament. Beluga will be hosting women from Gettysburg College, Dickinson College, Shippensburg University, Millersville University, West Virginia University, Bucknell University, Lehigh University, Rowan University, and Messiah College. The men’s team has invited 15 other teams.

“It will be a mix of competition and fun,” said Kate Salomon ’13, president of Code Beluga. “We go as far as to host teams. We are hosting people in dorms, so teams who can’t usually come are able to be accommodated. We like to invite teams who have a lot of fun and have a lot of spirit.”

“What’s really cool is that we actually have someone coming up from West Virginia for the upcoming home tournament, which is the farthest we have people coming from,” added Brenna Snyder ’15, vice president of Code Beluga. “The home tournament marks the end of the season. It’s our biggest event of the year; it’s pretty much what we train for all of Fall season.”

The Fall season of women’s ultimate frisbee is a training season, according to Salomon. The team gained eight first-year women, almost none of whom had played the sport before. Salomon also admits the game is fairly confusing for new players, and the team has to work hard with the new women to become a unified team before they can begin to succeed in games.

“At this tournament we will have learned the most we can in one season,” Salomon said. “The Fall season is the learning season for ultimate frisbee. Most of the girls have never played before when we recuit them. This is when the new players are stepping up and really starting to understand the game. This is when the team hits our stride as a cohesive unit.”

The Fall season has been full of learning and frisbee.

“Considering we have more freshmen than veterans, it’s definitely been rough,” Salomon said. “There have been leaps and bounds of improvement at every game; [the new players] are making plays that are instinctual now. We had a lot of raw talent: girls who are great at running, girls who love playing, girls who handle the disc well. We hope we’ll be able to bring together all the skills at the home tournament and hopefully win.”

Having lost six veteran seniors to graduation, the team was also experiencing a temporary dearth of seasoned coaches, teachers, and friends. According to Salomon, because team sports do not require a coach, many teams, including ultimate frisbee, choose to learn from the upperclassmen players. This means there is a group of seasoned players to act as a net of experienced mentors each year and also means that team sports tend to engender extremely close-knit groups of people.

In Salomon’s opinion, this makes ultimate frisbee a unique team sport.

“We are the most fun team on campus,” she said. “We laugh all the time. If you aren’t having fun you’re not doing it right. Of course there’s pressure to win but there’s more pressure to set personal goals and love every minute on the field.”

Ultimate frisbee has been compared to football and soccer, and of course includes all the skills necessary for throwing a frisbee. There are many rules to the game and this can be confusing.

“The first semester playing for me was very confusing; I was disheartened because I thought I would never understand it,” Salomon said. “But I’m still playing and I love it.”

“It’s not hard to learn if you have experience in a field sport. You need to know how to run, how to make cuts, how to play the field,” Snyder said. “The frisbee part is trickier. Some people who have never played a sport before might find it challenging. Most people pick it up quickly, and we do a lot in the beginning of the season to make sure that any new players know the sport know how to play.”

The executive board is made up of President Kate Salomon ’13, Vice President Brenna Snyder ’15, and co-captains Grace Riley-Adams ’15 and Hannah Ahrens ’13. The presidents are in charge of administrative duties like planning tournaments and scrimmages, and the captains are in charge of game play, training, and team camaraderie.

Previously named Code Blue, with changing leaders and a new focus, the almost-Lady Narwhals wanted to distinguish themselves from the men’s team while also keeping cohesive with a nautical theme.

“We only started as a women’s team about eight years ago as separate from the men’s team,” Salomon said. “We’ve been trying to form our own identity; we were originally the Hucking Amish, but now we are nautical themed: the narwhals and a friendlier version, beluga whales. It’s a way of being a team of our own but also being cohesive with the men.”

According to Snyder, the men’s and women’s teams come together for scrimmages, practices, and a co-ed tournament now and again.

When asked about goals for her position, Snyder admitted, “I wanted the leadership of the team to become more productive and effective without detriment to the team as a whole. Besides that I wanted to get a better relationship with the boys team to do more things with them co-ed wise. Some of the girls feel we do a lot with them already; we do co-ed scrimmages, we do a co-ed tournament, we do a co-ed team dinner and this previous Spring break we joined a tournament and did a whole co-ed Spring break trip down to Georgia for a tournament. In my opinion, we should do so much with them that they become our best friends.”

Code Beluga, in addition to a great relationship with the team, keeps up a good reputation with local women’s teams.

“We have had one tournament so far, two weekends ago,” said Salomon. “It was the first competitive tournament of the season. We also went to Gettysburg at the beginning of the semester to play for fun. We are traditionally good friends with Dickinson and Gettysburg, we like to go and say hi and play in a relaxed environment. We meet their new players and they meet ours.”

Snyder added that the team has great relationships with the teams at Haverford College and Penn State.

After all the training and lightheartedness of the Fall season, the Spring season of Ultimate Frisbee is more competitive and busy. It begins mid-March right after Spring break, before which the team will do conditioning inside and participate in indoor scrimmages with Millersville on a weekly basis when it is too cold to play outside. When the season begins, it is game after game.

“We only host a tournament in the Fall because in the Spring we travel for one or two tournaments and then we get to championship time,” said Salomon. “Where these games are played is determined by rank. It’s a lot of travelling.”

The team practices Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. On Friday afternoons there is an optional co-ed scrimmage. Interested girls should contact Kate Salomon at ksalomon@fandm.edu or show up to practice with cleats. The team accepts new players all year.

Questions? Email Lauren at lbejzak@fandm.edu.

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