Club Hub: WUFO, WUFA take mixed regionals

Purple Cow

Editors note: This is part of a new occasional sports column in the Record, called “Club Hub.” In this column, we will be publishing stories from those who compete in the College’s club sports, in all of their athletic and eclectic glory. 

“I’m actually pretty warm,” Louisa Belk ’20 told me as she wiped frost off her disc, five minutes before our first game at USA Ultimate’s second annual Northeast College Mixed Ultimate Regionals tournament last weekend. I raised my eyebrows, as it was 29 degrees and we were standing in the middle of a field in Granby, Massachusetts.  

In fairness, the weather wasn’t a cause for too much concern. The forecast predicted a high in the 50s, and sure enough, within an hour, the team was shedding layers and figuring out how to share a single bottle of sunscreen with 20 people. And anyway, Eph frisbee players face adverse weather all the time. Players were a lot less familiar with a different aspect of the tournament: competitive mixed ultimate. Williams Ultimate Frisbee (WUF) has competitive, single-gender “A” teams, WUFO and La Wufa, as well as a less-competitive mixed “B” team. This structure results largely from the policies of USA Ultimate, the national governing organization of this somewhat-disorganized sport, which only sanctions conference, regional and national championships in single-gender divisions.  

Last year, however, that all changed with the first-ever Mixed Regional Championships series, which invited established single-gender teams to haphazardly combine to form mixed-gender teams. This gives each team the feeling of an NBA All-Star team, or maybe the cast of a Saturday Night Live skit: stacked with talent, but without much experience working together.  This year, for the first time, WUF decided to get in on the fun. 

WUF was placed in pool C alongside Dartmouth, whose women’s team has held the Div. I national championship title for four consecutive years. We also went up against Brown, who thankfully only rostered one member of their 2019 Div. I national championship-winning men’s team, and Middlebury, one of our fiercest rivals in both gender divisions, led by the fearsome combination of Div. III men’s 2019 Rookie of the Year Leo Sovall-Fernandez and Div. III women’s 2019 Rookie of the Year Claire Babbott-Bryan.  

Thankfully, WUF had our own heavy hitters on the field.La Wufa tri-captain Sofie Netteberg ’20 and Simon Kessel ’21 anchored a strong defensive line. On offense, La Wufa tri-captain Casey Phalen ’20 repeatedly beat her opponent’s defenders on deep cuts for easy scores. WUF finished Saturday 2-2, after defeating MIT and Brown but falling to Dartmouth and Middlebury in close match-ups.  

Sunday was tougher, as WUF began the day with losses to reigning champions UMass Amherst and perennial Div. III rival Bates. In our final game of the tournament against Colby, after falling behind 5-2, WUF stormed back with a series of heroic diving blocks, laser throws and shoestring catches to win 8-7, boosting the team’s morale through the roof. As we left the field, the feelings of jubilation prevailed as first-year player Coco Rhum ’23 exclaimed, “I just love this sport so much.”