At a college very much defined by its region, St. Mary’s Ultimate Team (SMUT) is a club with national ambitions. The women’s team completed an incredible season last year by winning a bid to Nationals, while the men’s team won three Ultimate Frisbee tournaments last year, including Sectionals – the first step towards a spot at Nationals. With three returning seniors, an unusually large cohort of juniors that all learned the sport together, and a high-yield crop of promising first-years, men’s SMUT has its sights set firmly on Nationals 2012.
Although SMUT has been around for several decades on this frisbee-friendly campus, only in recent years has the club begun to acquire a serious reputation for skill and etiquette among the other Division III schools – a group which includes colleges such as Wake Forest, Richmond, and Davidson. Those on the team credit this new-found reputation to an increased emphasis on drills that build the players’ skill sets, more strenuous fitness regiments, and a positive change in attitude. Before, practice consisted of simply scrimmaging for an hour and a half, now the team runs and drills for at least an hour each day before scrimmaging. SMUT practices on Admissions Field and North Fields four days a week, usually from about 4 to 6 p.m.
Captain and senior Shelby Jones (5’10”) recalls how, in previous years, strategy often consisted of relying on one or two clutch players to pull the team out of lethargy or desperate endgame situations. “Now,” Jones says, “we’re really trying to involve a wider variety of players at tournaments so we can have that base of experience which lasts from one year to the next.” Couper Turkewitz, another senior and captain, agreed: “Although we have a great team this year and we’re focused on the goal of Nationals 2012, a long-term view of things is just as important.”
That perspective is part of the new mentality which characterizes SMUT these days. It’s a club that takes itself more seriously than in the past, and has consequently enjoyed unprecedented success, but which still appeals to students who can’t commit quite as much time as they would to a varsity sport. This balance between commitment and leisure has yielded the biggest turnout in SMUT history. First-year and local redhead Eli Sherlock described how, “it’s just a really nice, inclusive group of people that make you feel like part of a family, which is really valuable when you’re starting out here at St. Mary’s.”
SMUT is a club on the rise, and one to keep your eye on this year.