First women’s Frisbee team given an ultimate start


Mio Suzuki, an exchange student from Japan, learns and practices to how play Ultimate Frisbee on the Centennial field Thursday evening. Suzuki decided to join in with the newly created Kent State Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team after watching the team practice. Photo by Jessica Denton.

Hannah Kelling

A swarm.

As discs flew up toward the setting sun and past the changing leaves, no word better describes the activity both in the air and on the ground as the first meeting of the Kent State Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team took place.

One man’s horseplay is another man’s art form. One man’s haphazardly thrown piece of plastic is another man’s heavily respected tool of the trade.

To those who gathered on the Centennial field Thursday, the sport of Ultimate Frisbee is represented by the latter view. Working to create the first women’s team in Kent State history, coach Daniel Olson helps to lead the team with a tone of proud enthusiasm, engaged in what he calls the “fastest growing sport in America.”

Kent State is currently home to an “open” Ultimate team, comprised largely of men but open to women, in which Kent State graduate and assistant coach Kelsey McConnell said she grew familiar with the tight knit community of players throughout the region. However, the group is unsatisfied.

“We have over 40,000 students, so there is no reason not to have a women’s team,” McConnell said, explaining that colleges of various sizes around the region have already formed successful women’s teams. She said in her opinion, Kent State is falling behind and should work to gain critical ground as Ultimate enters its first year as a professional sport.

Samantha Gates, freshman biology major, was one of several new members who joined the medley of throwing lessons taking place Thursday afternoon. Shins lightly caked with mud and T-shirt a bit rumpled, she explained that the supportive atmosphere of the practice helped her to learn basic throwing and catching technique in one day.

“I feel very good to be a part of the first women’s team,” Gates said.

Although an average team has only 10 to 15 participants, Olson said each player is crucial. The men and women’s teams would travel together to tournaments, providing moral support that makes each team more competitive and committed than those teams that stand alone, explained Olson.

Captained by freshman Melanie Nesteruk, freshman visual journalism major, the women’s team will host its open throwing practices 4:30 p.m. Thursdays on the Centennial fields. Team leaders expressed hope that Thursday’s drills, which teach fundamental pivoting, blocking, throwing, and catching skills, will continue throughout the season, allowing the team to gain a competitive foundation by this time next year.

“It’s okay if you haven’t played before because it’s competitive without being aggressive,” Nesteruk said.

Assistant coach Colin Dukles, sophomore exploratory major, explains that the “field upon field upon field of yelling” might seem like haphazard horseplay to those unfamiliar with the sport. However, Nesteruk insists that newcomers will be swept into the “spirit of the game” as the women work to start a legacy in the game.

“We are all learning at all times,” McConnell said, encouraging people who may never have stepped on a field before to join the fray and craft a solid foundation for future students.

Contact Hannah Kelling at [email protected].