As the Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization (WUFO) heads into the spring season, it celebrates its 40th anniversary. The team hopes to build on its past tradition of success this season, as it works towards its ultimate goal – qualifying for and succeeding at Nationals.
Founded in 1977, WUFO is one of the oldest intercollegiate ultimate clubs in the nation and boasts a rich history of success on the national stage.
“It’s really cool that we’ve been around for that long,” WUFO President Jeff Sload ’17 said. “We’re definitely one of the longer-running ultimate organizations on the college scene.”
Sload also credited the club’s long tenure for the creation of an active alumni community. “We have so many alums who are incredibly supportive of everyone,” he said. “We’re all over the place, and we’ll bump into WUFO alums, who will be hyped to see us.”
The club is coed, and it is roughly divided between three teams: the men’s “A” team, the women’s “A” team (La WUFA) and the coed open “B” team. Christine Reed ’17, Lane Davis ’17 and Haley Lescinsky ’18 are tri-captains of La WUFA. “We compete against other women’s teams in New England and also nationally,” Reed said.
The team has both a fall and a spring season, with the most competitive Regional and National Championships taking place in the spring. Fall tournaments do not factor into qualification for Regionals and Nationals, allowing the team to focus on development. Sload said that many younger members of the team have not played ultimate before arriving at the College.
“The fall is really about developing newer players,” he said. “Ultimate is really interesting in that there’s this cadence to the season of bringing rookies onboard, teaching them the game in the fall and then incorporating them more in the roster.”
The men’s and women’s teams play in several tournaments, including the Purple Valley fall tournament, which is held annually at the College in October each year. This past year, the tournament featured teams from Dartmouth, the University of Vermont, Amherst, Middlebury and the University of Connecticut. Reed described the competition as a one-day tournament with beautiful weather and competion against rival programs.
“It serves the function as being one of the first times the team is able to play together,” Lescinsky added.
While the fall season is focused on development, the spring season is focused on competing at the highest level at tournaments and end-of-season competitions.
La WUFA has traditionally been a Div. III powerhouse, consistently representing the College at Nationals. Last year, the women were seeded No. 1 overall and reached the quarterfinals. This year, they hope to build on their success.
“Our end goal for the season is to do really well at Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals, which are like the playoffs,” Reed said. “We host both Sectionals and Regionals, so that’s really nice. In past years we’ve done really well at both.”
The men look to build upon the work they have done over the fall and Winter Study to compete well at the upcoming tournaments. Two weeks ago, the men defeated Ohio State and George Washington in the season’s inaugural tournament, impressive victories which bode well for the rest of the season.
Both teams will embark on a spring break trip to South Carolina, where they will play two important tournaments near the end of the season. Rankings determined from the tournaments in the spring determine the team’s seeding for Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals. After a slightly disappointing finish to last season, which ended without a bid to Nationals, the men hope to improve their results this year, Sload said.
WUFO’s influence on campus includes more than just its on-field results. The club has helped to increase the popularity of ultimate on campus and has created avenues for those interested in becoming involved in the sport.
“Ultimate is definitely up and coming,” Lescinsky said.
“More than anything, WUFO is a group of people who love hanging out together and we play a lot more Frisbee than I think a lot of people realize,” Sload said. “A huge component of WUFO as an organization is about having fun and being with people that you love.”
Still, he stressed that the men’s and women’s A teams have been remarkably successful. “We’re competitive with the top 10 teams in the country, and we work really hard to make sure that we’re always competitive to get to Nationals and do our best there.”