Last weekend, the football team wasn’t the only Michigan squad that took care of business. The men’s ultimate Frisbee club team hosted the Best of the Midwest Tournament on Oct. 1 and 2 and dominated the 12-team field. With the team split into three different squads, two made it to the finals.

Ricky Eikstadt has coached the team since 1998, and he said he is amazed with the progress the squad has made since it started.

“We have a lot more ability to recruit, with much more athleticism to choose from,” Eikstadt said.

The coach credits the University’s support as one of the reasons ultimate is such a hot sport, singling out Jan Wells of the Rec Department for her backing. Given three fields with lights and the use of Oosterbaan Field House during the winter, the team has greatly expanded in recent years.

The players’ enthusiasm reflects that of the coaching staff.

“I’m too ridiculously addicted to the sport,” first-year assistant coach Jason Barnes said. “I just can’t stay away from it for very long.”

Seniors Colin McIntyre and Ryan Purcell similarly praise the game.

“Ultimate attracts top-level athletes from many different backgrounds with its blend of talent, skill and finesse,” Purcell said.

McIntyre, a high school tennis star who only started playing ultimate as a freshman, notes that “everyone comes in on an even basis.”

The support and optimism that the upperclassmen present plays a huge role in the immediate attraction that younger players have to the sport. Sophomore Pat Senatore fell in love with ultimate when he tried out last year.

“The team is just full of nice guys who would do anything for anybody else,” Senatore said.

This distinct pride and affection sold Senatore’s friend and housemate, Matt Raubinger, on trying out for the team this year. After casually tossing around the frisbee with Senatore, Raubinger decided to try out. Raubinger is extremely appreciative of the support he receives from returning players.

“The older guys are great at explaining rules and strategies,” Raubinger said.

Despite losing a strong class of graduating seniors from last year, hopes are very high for this season. Younger contributors like Senatore hope they can step up and take a greater role on the field. There is even more excitement because the team knows it should be competitive nationally.

The camaraderie surrounding the team is apparent, but it also extends to players on the other teams, as well. During every tournament, the players from the home school host a massive party for all the other teams. Forgetting any squabbles that might have occurred over the course of the day, the teams get together for a night of fun.

The players are looking forward to taking trips across the country. They will travel to tournaments in North Carolina, Georgia and Oregon.

With over 200 students trying out for the team, it is clear that the sport is quickly catching on in Ann Arbor. It’s hard to walk around campus without seeing a group of students tossing around a disc. With such optimism surrounding the season, the players would love to have even more support from the student body. They are always ready to have a great time, both on the field and off it.

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