CMU Ultimate teams attain divergent successes

Even with successful performances in last week?s Ultimate Players Association (UPA) Founders? Sectional Tournament, the men?s and women?s Ultimate Frisbee teams at Carnegie Mellon seem to be heading in different directions. While the men?s squad, Mr. Yuk, appears to have its strongest team in years, the women?s side, formerly Pansy, now known as Little Miss Naughty, will be entering its first season as a Carnegie Mellon-only entity. Until this year, they had teamed with the University of Pittsburgh to form one of the region?s best female teams, but beginning this week they will test the waters as a separate club.
?The UPA, who governs all ultimate play, stepped in this year and told us that Pansy was strong enough to be split back into Pitt and CMU teams. That leaves us with some rebuilding to do,? said third-year architecture major Jenna Kappelt, captain of the women?s team. ?Since we lost so many girls to Pitt we?ve now got a very small roster. Our biggest goal right now is to recruit new players and get our numbers and depth back to where they were. We?re trying to create a foundation for CMU women?s ultimate for the future, something that would be comparable to the men?s team.?
Despite the loss, Kappelt still feels optimistic about her team?s chances this year. ?The good thing is that we didn?t graduate any girls, so we?ve got a good amount of strong experience from our starters, and that?s something that we can build on. We?ve got some great players; Acadia Klain and Vanessa Hodge are both tough players on offense and defense, and our young players are getting better and better. Kathy Chung is one of the girls who is a great example of that. When she came to the team last year she had very little experience, and now she?s developing into one of our key players.?
On the men?s side, the Mr. Yuk team has high expectations going into this weekend?s tournament at Oberlin College after qualifying for regionals last week. The team will add a strong core of talented rookies, including Junior World Championship Team member Tommy Hendrickson, to a squad that graduated only a few key players after a successful 2004 season. Behind the leadership of captains Drew Hendrickson and Dean Eberhardt, Mr. Yuk looks to be one of the strongest teams in their region.
?Last week we sent a mostly-rookie lineup to Founders, and they reamed Pitt?s mostly-rookie team 13?7, so we?ve built up a lot of confidence in these guys,? said junior computer science major Kevin McCloskey, one of the senior members of the club. ?We?ve got a solid group of experienced veterans, including a world and national champion teaching a large group of motivated rookies. We?re looking forward to getting out of the cluster to play some ultimate. Or maybe moving some computers around and playing ultimate in the cluster.?
His joke might not be that far from the truth. One of the biggest concerns for both teams this winter will be finding practice space. In the past, both Mr. Yuk and Pansy had access to Pitt?s athletic facilities in the winter due to the alliance between the schools. However, both teams are confined to the Carnegie Mellon campus this winter, and they understand that finding space to practice will be difficult.
?We?re going to suffer in the spring because we have nowhere to play this winter. All we can do is conditioning when it?s too cold and then get outside and throw when it starts to get warmer. The best facilities we can find here are at Skibo gym, and there just isn?t enough space for us to accomplish what we need to,? said Kappelt.