Now with its third banner hanging in the MAC, the varsity Ultimate Frisbee program has established itself with a track record of success, and even more importantly to the leaders on the team, a welcoming culture.
When head coach David Thompson and assistant coach Eric Stone met earlier this year with captain Isaac Alicia ’20, Sandrine Brien ’20, and David Vega ’20, the senior leaders affirmed that one of the goals for the players was to create the most inclusive team on campus.
“My experience is that this has been the case already,” said Thompson, “but it’s great to hear the captains say this is an important goal for us.”
After last year’s New England championship, Thompson said that the enthusiasm for this season was sky-high at the pre-season tryouts. “The level of play, the level of engagement was the best I’ve seen in 21 years,” he said. “I’m really excited about the state of the sport at this school and where it’s headed.”
Thompson credits last season’s title to the team’s camaraderie, particularly among its senior leaders – Brian Wong ’19, Souleman Toure ’19, Theresa Yu ’19, and Bonnie Dana ’19, all four-year players in the program. “They really played for each other – they loved playing, they loved the game,” he said.
But even a week before the win, the prospects for the team seemed quite a bit dimmer with a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Connecticut state championships, hosted here at Hotchkiss. On that day, the team allowed the emotions of a surprising semifinal loss to carry over and hamper their play in the consolation game.
For New Englands, the team needed to regroup. “They talked about their responsibility to each other, to the team,” said Thompson. “It was really about recentering their focus on working together as a team, recognizing they had a lot of potential and not getting caught up in the outcomes.”
After graduating, Yu has gone on to continue a tradition of Hotchkiss players enjoying success in college and beyond, being selected to the U.S. Under-20 national team this year. She joins Qxhna Titcomb ’12 and Rohre Titcomb ’05 as a member of Team USA, although this year’s tournaments were postponed.
Other recent alumni enjoying noteworthy seasons include Nate Moore ’18 and Alan Wong ’17, who captain the Princeton team, and Ryan Hoffman ’16, a nominee for this year’s Callahan Award, given annually to the country’s best male collegiate player.
Thompson said that despite not playing together this spring, he hoped that the players would carry the momentum of the program forward next year. He noted that the reconstituted JV program will be in its fourth year next season, and the third as a fully functional squad.
“That’s part of my focus, continuing to keep that energy in the JV and varsity so both teams are out there representing the school and getting better,” he said.