BY LEXI LOBDELL ’20
The Mount Holyoke ultimate team — known as the Daisy Chain — is currently ranked third in the nation for the USA Ultimate (USAU) Women’s Division III Ultimate Frisbee after a big win at the Jersey Devil Tournament on March 24 and 25.
A unique aspect of collegiate ultimate is that many players have never played frisbee before coming to college. “We always say there is a very steep learning curve,” said captain Katrina Meserve ’18, “so as soon as you start playing, your skill level increases exponentially. It’s crazy to see how much people improve from even the first day in the fall to the end of the fall season. We have a bunch of amazing first -years who have never touched a frisbee before, but now are starters on our team. People pick it up really quickly.”
Many ultimate players joined from varsity sports. Meserve played volleyball for three years before quitting to focus on frisbee. The team also has a few members who are also on the varsity soccer and swim teams.
“The best thing about this team are the people,” said Meserve. “I always say I love the sport of frisbee, but I love the community better. A big part of frisbee the spirit of the game and I would say [frisbee people] are a mixture of crazy but also super compassionate.”
Ultimate athlete Marlee Raiffa ’20 added, “My favorite part of being on the team is definitely the community it builds. Everyone on the team is super loving and supportive of each other. It’s really beautiful. My favorite moments are when someone gets a crazy point and everyone on the sideline or on the field spring[s] to the person and attack[s] them with love!”
There is a definite frisbee culture on college campuses. Teams can be seen hanging out or throwing the disc on the campus green and often live in the same house at Division I schools. Meserve explained that at Mount Holyoke, “there has been a shift in frisbee culture.”
“We hang out together and gets meals together,” she said, “especially in the spring when we have tournaments every weekend and we are always together.”
The team practices three times per week with their coach Evan Johnson and an extra practice on Sunday mornings lead by their captains, Meserve and Michelle Wellman ’18. Their season starts at the beginning of the fall semester.
In the spring, the team buckles down to prepare for a series of tournaments following spring break. Since the team is Division III, they compete exclusively against other Division III schools. “We go to a tournament called High Tide for spring break which is a big tournament in South Carolina,” said Meserve. “It’s just really a fun tournament. The next weekend we had a tournament called Jersey Devil in New Jersey. We ended up winning the whole tournament, which was a great way to start our season! And then last weekend we went to a tournament at University of Vermont.”
Meserve also organized Mount Holyoke’s first Hat Tournament this past weekend. “People sign up and we make random teams, so we play with random people,” She explained, “You meet a lot people and it is really fun.”
The team will compete in sectionals this weekend. If they win, they will make regionals and if they finish in the top four, they will make nationals.
Meserve’s fondest memory from last season was beating Amherst College in regionals to earn a spot at nationals. “I had a foot injury and I was in a boot, but I had been playing the whole game,” she said. “I took the boot off so that I could play. It was a very back and forth game and the last few points we just pulled it together and ended up winning. It was just like this crazy relief after. It was just really exciting.” The team hopes to repeat this performance and go to nationals in Illinois this year.
Meserve pointed out that the Pioneer Valley is known for producing great frisbee players. “Frisbee is huge in the Valley,” she said. “Amherst High School is known for breeding ultimate players. There is a lot of talent from around here that I think the frisbee community knows about but not necessarily everyone else!”