By Zachary Fletcher
To some people, ultimate frisbee is a sport synonymous with the liberal arts college lifestyle. It’s a game viewed as less demanding, less involved and less exciting than other sports. Ultimate frisbee is often overlooked in the sports community and on campus.
Those who think less of ultimate frisbee have clearly never played the sport, nor have they been a part of an ultimate team. It’s possible they’ve never even seen a game or tried throwing a disc before. But above all, those who think ultimate isn’t a sport have clearly never seen or heard of the women’s ultimate team here at Puget Sound: Clearcut.
One of the most important aspects of ultimate frisbee is the community, and Clearcut players speak highly of the welcoming ultimate community here at Puget Sound. “The ultimate frisbee community at [Puget Sound] is unbelievably positive and welcoming,” senior captain Ellen “Cady” Kalenscher (Portland, Oregon) said. “Everybody is also incredibly supportive, whether it’s watching the men’s team when they have a tournament or game and we don’t or attending other events that our teammates are participating in.”
Senior captain Ellie Engel (Seattle, Washington), speaks of the changed tone of the ultimate community and how Clearcut has played a role in that: “When I was a [first-year student], ultimate frisbee was not a supportive environment, and now both the men and women’s team have created a community that is nothing short of a family.”
Family really does come first on the ultimate field and the senior members of Clearcut share a common thought of inclusivity and openness. “We want everyone to feel like they can approach anyone on either team for help or support, no matter what,” senior Sarah Ciambrone (Redwood City, California) said.
In addition to the rise of a positive ultimate community here on campus, Clearcut has been on a rise of their own. The team competed at the Flat Tail Open in Corvallis, Oregon last month, and the Stanford Open in Morgan Hill, California back in early February. Both tournaments went well for the women’s team, and the two successful events bode well for their ranking and, more importantly, their positive spirit.
“We wound up finishing fourth at Stanford Open, which was very exciting for an early tournament that involved both DI and DIII teams,” Kalenscher said. Not only did the team play well, but Clearcut also won the tournament’s Spirit of the Game award, an idea in ultimate frisbee that emphasizes sportsmanship, fair play and fun.
One of the biggest wins for the team at the Stanford Open was against an old foe: “Our biggest victory was beating Carleton Eclipse, who won Nationals last year,” Engel said. Clearcut lost to Carleton at last year’s nationals, ending their extremely close bid to win it all.
But that loss last year didn’t bring the team down. It only fueled them.
“We have all been able to reflect on what we did last year, what worked and what didn’t, and make those adjustments for this season,” Ciambrone said. “We’ve definitely approached the semester with a higher intensity than years past, because our goal is not only to make it to Nationals, but this year we want to win,” Kalenscher added.
Puget Sound alumnus and Clearcut coach Spencer Sheridan adds to that energized spirit for this year’s team. “We lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions, Carleton, and I hope that it lights a little fire under us.”
Sheridan also has much praise for the team’s ability to play at the highest level and have a lot of fun while doing it. “They do a great job of intermixing sideline dance sessions with layout Ds and beautiful hucks.”
When asked for one word to describe the team, the senior players and Coach Sheridan all describe different aspects of the multi-faceted team that is Clearcut.
“Spirited,” Engel said. “Determined,” Ciambrone said. “Passionate,” Kalenscher said. “Grit,” Sheridan added.
To all those naysayers about ultimate frisbee: go watch Clearcut play. Go watch their spirit, go watch their intensity and go try to throw an effortless 60-yard “huck” like Engel or Kalenscher.
It sure does appear that Clearcut has what it takes to make it to the highest level. They’ve got the talent, they’ve got the spirit and they’ve got a great ultimate community behind them here at Puget Sound.
Puget Sound ultimate is driven by Clearcut’s high quality of play, fun spirits and outstanding sense of community.
Nationals are on the horizon and the ladies team surely has all of Puget Sound standing behind them. It’s time for this team to get the recognition it truly deserves. As their cheer goes: Wut, Wut, Clearcut.