November 5, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Alanna Jackson | Photo by Anil Jergens
I’m not going to lie; when I first moved in with my roommate Mary Andrews ’23, it took some major adjusting to hear ultimate frisbee slang. Words like “praccy,” “tourney,” “bid,” filled her vocabulary. The drastic shortening of words and game-time maneuver names left my brain scrambling to decode and keep up.
Over time, though, the slang grew on me. After hearing about Andrews’ tournaments and her genuine love for the game and her teammates, I became infatuated with ultimate frisbee.
Andrews, an environmental studies major and French minor from Western Massachusetts, plays for Colorado College’s very own Zenith, an all-gender ultimate frisbee team that plays in the women’s division. Andrews is a captain this year, along with Hannah Scott ’22 and Sophia Hennessy ’23; Olivia Jacobson ’22 is the spirit captain, whose main duty is to ensure good spirit within the team and between other teams.
Since ultimate frisbee is one of the only team sports without referees, the players are expected to know the rule book and hold each other accountable by “calling the fouls, picks, and spirit fouls.”
Spirit, or “spirit of the game,” encompasses a larger sportsmanship value in the ultimate community to have integrity while playing, hold mutual respect for all players, and ensure that all folks find joy in the game.
This fall has been filled with practices, social events, and tournaments, as the team transitions back to in-person competition. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Zenith’s connections and commitments found a home in virtual spaces, months ago.
While early pandemic restrictions meant that games and tournaments were temporarily paused, Andrews notes that it gave the team valuable time to reflect and evolve. It was during this time that the team held discussions about their values, mission, and name, which they officially changed on July 7.
The previous name of the team, Lysistrata’s Tools, or “Strata” for short, is based on the Greek comedy by Aristophanes, which is set in 411 BCE during the Peloponnesian War. After years of brutal war and hundreds of fatalities, Lysistrata rallies the women on both sides of the war to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers as a strategy of convincing the men to cease their quarrels. It worked like a charm.
Andrews and the other ultimate players spent time reflecting on the name “Lysistrata’s Tools,” and realized that their story as a team did not align with Lysistrata’s narrative. Several players are non-binary or gender-fluid, while all of “Lysistrata’s tools” identified as women.
The story also implicitly links the women’s value as being deeply intertwined with their bodies as sites for male pleasure, and as Andrews critiqued “the story does not empower women in any other area beyond sex.”
In response to this reflection, the team decided to outline their mission, change their name, and become an all-gender team playing in the women’s division. The team wrestled with the idea of becoming a womxn team or a gender-inclusive team but opted for all-gender as their designation since they “want to be as open, inclusive, and fluid as possible.”
Their new name, Zenith, means “the point at which something is most powerful,” said Andrews. Zenith is also another word for apex or peak, which is a fitting way to pay tribute to Pikes Peak, or Tava.
Even though “it’s been hard to create cheer since Zenith rhymes with nothing,” said Andrews, the team loves the name and finds that it perfectly encapsulates the power and tenacity of the players.
Their mission statement outlines their commitment to growth, accountability, social justice, and zest — “a combination of playfulness, fun, competitiveness, drive, and grit,” said Andrews, who explained that the team created a mission statement in order to pinpoint values for incoming players to agree upon. The team, overall, hopes to foster a “safe, fun, zesty, and gritty” experience for all players, regardless of skill level.
Additionally, beyond the field, the team has become more involved in social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and anti-oppression work, especially given that ultimate is often a very white sport with socioeconomic barriers.
During the pandemic, the team officially committed to anti-oppression work, evident in collectively participating in individual DEI learning sessions, establishing a DEI committee for the team, and holding fundraisers for organizations like Native Womens Wilderness, who they hope to fundraise for again this fall break.
Zenith also hopes to lead an initiative for all players to research the indigenous territories they play upon and to practice land acknowledgements before playing.
A typical week of practice, at least for the fall semester, includes two mandatory practices on Stewart Field; one is on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the other is on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
There is also a short practice on Wednesday for handlers, but all are welcome to join, and team meetings and socials are sprinkled throughout the block. In the spring semester, Andrews expects that they will add required lift workouts and sprinting workouts.
This year, the team, which has all skill levels from energetic rookies and badass vets, has two series rather than one. The series that was supposed to take place during spring 2021 is now happening during fall 2021, and the team will also have a spring series during the second semester.
The team competed at Sectionals in Boulder during second block break, receiving a bid to regionals, which will occur third weekend of this block in Austin, Texas. Zenith is a D1 team as designated by USA Ultimate. Their main competition at regionals will be Boulder and UT Austin.
In line with their values of social justice and accountability, the team acknowledges that, while they are in Texas, they will be spending money, which ultimately contributes to a political structure that is barring access to reproductive rights.
The team hopes to somewhat offset this through donating to a local nonprofit or community organization, matching the amount they spend in Texas (please reach out to Andrews if you would like to donate). The team hopes this initiative gains momentum with other teams traveling to regionals.
When speaking with Andrews, her eyes lit up as she spoke about her love for the game and for the people, who she described as a “combination of people who want to have fun, who are really competitive.”
Andrews has loved watching other players come into the sport having never played and fall in love like she did. Traveling with the team to places like San Diego or Tulsa is one of Andrew’s favorite parts of being a part of Zenith, since she can scope out the different coaching dynamics and team strategies and bond with her team.
If you are interested in playing, it is never too late to join. Zenith accepts all skill levels and welcomes any and all students to their practices. You can also be a social member or engage with the team’s fundraisers. For more information, contact Mary Andrews at email@example.com. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be catching a huck with Zenith at the next Tuesday night praccy.