Jacob Margolis – What image develops in your head when you hear or read the words “Ultimate Frisbee?” You probably pictured some goofy guys flicking a disc around on the quad with their dog; I know that’s what I pictured. This could not be farther from the truth, except maybe the goofy part; the members of DUFF (from both the women’s and men’s teams) are as goofy as any students on campus. Yet that doesn’t stop them from training and competing tirelessly with the utmost intensity, honing their craft to be as close to perfect as possible.
According to Senior Captain Henry Siebenbtritt ’17, Men’s DUFF is built on a simple yet powerful mantra: “Family, Focus, Fun.” Siebenbtritt states that this allows the team to bring “intensity to practice but also not forgot to have fun and be goofy.” Senior Captain Chris Johnson ’17 echoes this sentiment, statin, “Men’s DUFF is both founded and driven by a desire to compete at a high level but to do so while still having fun and being generally ridiculous.” Beloved coach Ken Porter (an celebrated athlete in his own right) explains, “The main strength of this year’s team is cohesion, and as a whole [the team is] pretty close.”
In fact the team is so close that when Junior Captain Cullen MacDowell ’18 was asked if any player has stood out more than any others he remarked, “There are honestly too many players that have stepped up for me to single anybody out in particular.” As star Richmond Ultimate player Henry Babcock said just last week, “They’re a really tough team to slow down because they don’t run through three or four main guys like most [D-III] teams.”
What about on the field? What does Men’s DUFF do well? Mac Harris ’19, prominent Bojangles advocate, (food is a hot button topic for the team) declares, “The defense is the heart and soul of [Men’s] DUFF, and defense is all about attitude.” Harris continued, “As Nick Saban always says, dominate your opponent. Refuse to lose your matchup. And I think that’s our goal–if all seven of us [on the field for a point] dominate and win our matchups, then we will be successful. If the other team doesn’t touch the disc, how can they score?”
How has the team faired on the field? According to Philip Bader ’17, “The season has been great recently; the vibe is serious but also loose.” Andrew Roy ’20 doubled down on this rhetoric and said, “Our season has definitely been consistent improvement and development.” According to Roy the turning point for the season was when “[Men’s DUFF] had a meeting to talk about how we [could] do better moving forward after we really struggled in our first tournament.” This meeting worked wonderfully; Men’s DUFF is ranked 8th nationally in the DIII power rankings and 6th nationally in the USA Ultimate rankings: both are the highest Men’s DUFF has ever been ranked.
That being said, Men’s DUFF hasn’t achieved their peak. Johnson explained, “Our goal is to get to [the] point where we are playing to the level that we know we are capable.” While a lot of talk around the team involves reaching nationals this isn’t the sole focus of Men’s DUFF. In fact, John believes that “[while] obviously the hope is that we make it to Nationals, I think focusing solely on that hope is counterproductive. If we focus on playing our game to the best of our ability, the rest will take care of itself. At this last tournament we showed that we had the capacity to be the best team in the country, now we need to put in the work to prove it.”
“Family, Fun, Focus.” DUFF embodies everything a team should be: a cohesive unit that performs as well as the sum of its parts, not relying solely on one player. DUFF is unlike any other team on campus; it is truly a bunch of goofy men and women that love playing Frisbee with each other. Both teams have achieved great things this season and if they work hard and “win the small moments,” the sky’s the limit. However, DUFF isn’t thinking about any of that; right now, DUFF is thinking about what it takes to improve and putting in the work. Men’s coach Erec Hillis put it best when he simply stated, “Go DUFF.”