Photo Courtesy of Sophie Youtz
Article Written by Leah Weinstein
There is a revival happening on Roanoke College’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
In the past two years, the team has amassed up to 20 players per tournament, the largest of all other Roanoke intramural teams. It also has turned around a sorely losing record.
Junior Matt Puryear came to Roanoke College to play soccer, and now, he is the co-captain of the co-ed club ultimate frisbee team. Puryer credits the renewed success of the team to three factors: strong leadership in head coach Kevin Foster, a competitive nature, and a familial culture tailored to having fun and supporting one another.
Before the 2014-2015 season, the team was not competitive, only winning two games total, and it had a very distinct party culture, Puryear said. Now, the team goes to three or four tournaments a semester, most recently placing second out of a 10-team pool at the Mars Hill University tournament in February.
After last fall’s activities fair, the team had nearly 100 students at its first practice of the academic year.
Also, a rise in commitment to the team from the freshmen class of 2014, paired with Foster’s leadership, has led to huge improvements. Students report being excited to return to the team each year.
“Officially having a coach helps a lot and having a culture where we want to improve,” said Puryear. “It’s easier to improve with people you really enjoy being around.”
The team suffered a tragic loss in 2015 when teammate Kevin Hartley died. His loss helped center the frisbee team and created an even stronger bond.
“That kind of brought us even closer and that first tournament after [Hartley’s death] was our best tournament of the year,” said Puryear.
After only two years of creating a new culture for themselves, the team has become one of the most successful club sports on campus, alongside the club rugby team.
“We’ve struck a good balance between being competitive and having fun; it is hard to keep that balance, but we’ve done a pretty good job so far,” Puryear said.
With freshmen through seniors leading the team, the team’s goals continue to grow. The team is planning to reach the sectional tournament for the second time next year. The players hope the popularity of the sport continues.
“Anyone who wants to come play, come and play,” said Puryear.
You often can find members of the team slinging discs on the Back Quad on sunny days in addition to at their games.