‘It’s A Creative Outlet’: Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team ‘Spank’ Aiming Toward Reaching Nationals
Although it’s not a Division l team, ultimate frisbee is a part of many folks’ lives at Penn State. To the players, it’s more than just a club team.
Spank, one of four ultimate frisbee teams at Penn State, is the men’s A team that has 31 players on its roster this year.
So far this fall, the team competed in Fall Phling, a casual annual tournament held in State College that allows the team’s alumni to return to play. Spank also competed in individual games against West Chester and Delaware in Happy Valley.
Aside from the home games, the club has also made a few road trips. First, the team drove nine hours to the “Lobster Pot” tournament in South Portland, Maine, to face Boston College, Northeastern, and other teams.
Spank most recently traveled to Pittsburgh, where it played against teams from the Ohio Valley Region that they’ll likely see again in the spring regional tournament. Spank went 6-0 in the Steel City Showdown and won the tournament championship.
Despite their success, the players say traveling is about more than just winning.
“The road trips are fun,” senior captain Benjamin Feidler said. “You get to know people really quickly, and we usually stay in hotels for tournaments, which is another way to bond with everyone.”
The goal of all of the tournaments and competitions is to ultimately make it to nationals, which takes place each spring, and Spank hasn’t participated in the tournament in 21 years.
“My goal is to help the team build on their past success and to help them achieve their goals, which is nationals,” coach Luke Smith said. “The way we can get there is by coming out and working hard every night on our off days and focusing on the process. The guys know that what they put into it is what they’ll get out.”
Smith’s words have been backed up by the team’s dedication so far this season.
“I played in high school, but it’s definitely different. This is more of a commitment,” freshman Evan Lutz said. “It’s not a Division l team, but it feels like it.”
While it’s clear it values winning, ultimate frisbee is more than a sport to its players.
“The community was one of the biggest reasons I joined, and it’s a great group of guys to be around. It’s a creative outlet and social outlet for me,” Feidler said. “It’s a physical outlet, but also definitely a mental stress reliever. Sometimes I need to not think about anything else and just chase plastic.”
Smith echoed Feidler’s thoughts, calling the ultimate community “self-supporting.” He explained that because ultimate frisbee doesn’t have collegiate athletic status, everyone must come together to create the final product by fundraising, organizing fields, selecting team members, and designing game strategies.
The final product is one that Spank is proud of, and the team hopes to continue on an upward trajectory in the future toward nationals.
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“We’re going to use that strength, and we’re going to pressure, and that’s Penn State basketball.”
“We need KeAndre to take the next step, Dante, the tight ends to take the next step, because we’re going to have to make some plays in the passing game.”