Flying High

Ultimate Frisbee teams are at the top of their game and heading to the nationals

Practicing ultimate Frisbee

Starting the 2011 season in March at the CenTex tournament in Austin, Texas, the women’s Ultimate Frisbee club sports team left competitors with two questions: who is Tufts, and where did they come from?

Seeded 22nd in Division II, in a tournament that featured 52 teams across three divisions, the Tufts Elephant Women, or Ewo as they are known, placed third overall, beating several teams from NCAA Division I schools.

The non-contact sport, often referred to simply as “Ultimate,” is played on a football-sized field, the objective being to pass the Frisbee into a team’s respective end zone to score points.

“We didn’t even really know what we were capable of because we hadn’t had a lot of opportunities to play together before the tournament,” says co-captain Laura Glassman, A11. “This was a really big deal.”

Now the team is preparing to head to Boulder, Colo., on Memorial Day weekend to compete in the USA Ultimate College Championships.

It’s a fitting way to end the season. The women dominated the Metro Boston Conference—the smallest margin of victory came in 11–3 wins over Northeastern and Boston University—and finished third out of 32 teams at the Keystone Classic in Lancaster, Pa. They were the number-one seed heading into the New England regional tournament in Hanover, N.H., on May 7 and 8, and won it all.

After seeing more than a dozen players graduate between 2008 and 2010, the team spent the last year rebuilding, says co-captain Anna Chute, A11.

“In general, the sport is getting bigger, and there is a lot of development at the high school level, so we have been able to attract some excellent younger players,” Chute says. “One of our sophomores, Claudia Tajima, was the captain of the Junior World Cup team that played in Germany last summer.”

This year it all paid off. “We’ve really upped our level of play, and I think our depth is really important,” says Glassman. “When you have just one or two strong players, it is pretty easy to contain them, but when your entire line is compiled of big threats, it is hard to cover everyone and shut everything down.”

Glassman says the team has been driven by revenge this year, after coming up one point short last year in a game against Middlebury College, dashing their hopes of competing at nationals.

“Everyone who was here last year remembers what it felt like to get that close and face a crushing defeat,” Glassman says. “Aside from getting physically ready, I think our strategy for nationals is strengthening our mental game—knowing that we can be national contenders and not allowing ourselves to be intimidated.”

Along for the Ride


Adrian Banerji, A12, gets a pass under the defense of Sam Dushay, A14, as they practice on campus for the USA Ultimate College Championships. Photo: Kelvin MaAdrian Banerji, A12, gets a pass under the defense of Sam Dushay, A14, as they practice on campus for the USA Ultimate College Championships. Photo: Kelvin Ma

The women will not be alone in their trek to Colorado. Their Jumbo Ultimate Frisbee counterparts, the E-Men, will also be competing at nationals.

Having also fallen just short of nationals last year, the E-Men had a strong season in 2011, with a 20-game winning streak and a second-place showing at the regionals.

Heading into the nationals, co-captain Alex Cooper, A12, says the team is looking to make it to at least the quarterfinals, the furthest the E-Men have advanced.

“Of course, we hope to win it all, but really we just want everyone to get the experience,” Cooper says. “We are graduating only five of our players this year, so if we can create a good foundation, that will definitely allow us to make a run to win it all next year.”

Cooper says that one of the advantages the E-Men have is a coaching staff of five alumni, something that is uncommon among other teams across the country.

“Our legacy is definitely an advantage,” Cooper says. “Being one of the oldest teams in the country, I feel teams respect us and know that they can expect a good game when they face us.”

Watching the Tufts women develop their team over the past couple of years, Cooper says the men are excited to see what is next for them.

“The women’s team is definitely on an upswing,” Cooper says. “The sophomore class is one of the best they have seen, and I think the next couple years are going to be exciting for them, and they will probably become one of the best teams in the country.”

Kaitlin Provencher can be reached at

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