In an experience shared at one point or another by almost every student, Springfield College senior Jeff Cirillo woke up one morning last semester with no desire to do any homework. Instead of lying around, he began work of a different kind. After three hours of planning, Cirillo, the co-captain and co-founder of the Springfield College Ultimate Frisbee Club, had organized the schedule for a spring break trip for his team to play in a tournament in Saint Simons Island, Ga.
“I’m really excited about this trip for us as a team because there’s only two or three people on our team that have played competitive Ultimate ever,” Cirillo said. “The chance for them to see a real tournament and get the experience to play somewhere with other people who are at all different levels around them is awesome.”
The team will be playing in the High Tide Ultimate Tournament during the week of SC’s spring break, from March 16-23. According to Cirillo, the 16th annual tournament began with around five teams, but has since grown to include over 200 participating colleges and universities. This is the first year that SC’s Ultimate Frisbee Club is attending, in only its second year of existence.
Before the fall of 2011, Cirillo and fellow co-captain and co-founder, senior Evan Doktor, had played intramural Ultimate Frisbee on a team together. After two years of intramurals, including an intramurals’ championship, they longed for something more. That feeling translated into their creation of the SC Ultimate Frisbee Club.
Despite receiving signs of interest at the club fair in the fall of 2011 and again at their opening meeting, the duo and their team suffered through low participation at practices in their inaugural year. According to Cirillo, only about five to eight people showed up routinely for practice.
“It was a little bit frustrating sometimes just because we don’t have a coach, [so] there’s no discipline for not showing up,” Cirillo said.
This year is a different story. After renewed efforts to recruit more players, the student-run and coached club has an average of 12 to 16 people at every practice, with a total roster of approximately 20 players. The team’s improving play and chemistry led to the suggestion of a spring break trip by sophomore player-coach Cody Ross. Thanks to Cirillo’s three-hour organizing session, the team had a plan in place, but needed more money to make the trip a reality.
After several fundraising events, such as UNO’s nights and selling wristbands, the team earned enough money to take 16 regulars.
The SC Ultimate Frisbee Club will get to compete in 16 games at the High Tide Ultimate Tournament over the course of four days. There is also an optional Hat Tournament, where players are randomly chosen to form a team with players from opposing colleges in a more relaxed atmosphere than the actual tournament contests.
“Frisbee is one of the coolest sports that I’ve ever seen played because you can be so competitive with it and so relaxed [as well],” Cirillo said.
Although the tournament is expected to be fun, the team is there to compete and measure how far they have come. Despite the poor winter weather, they have been practicing around four days a week, with an optional Saturday practice.
“We’ve improved so much as a team since the beginning of the year, just in pure skills, in relationships on the team and in ability in general, and it really shows in practice,” Cirillo said.
“One student from last year had never thrown a Frisbee before. He just ran cross country and ran track, and now he’s one of our star players. He’s improved so much. It’s just great to see all the improvement throughout the team,” Doktor added.
For the relatively young club, a spring break tournament provides a prime opportunity for critical exposure and growth. Cirillo and Doktor hope that their spring break trip to Georgia will be the first of many for the team, and continue to guide the SC Ultimate Frisbee Club in the right direction.
“We’re really bonding well, and this trip’s going to help us a lot,” Cirillo said.