Sports - Competition and camaraderie attract athletes to lacrosse
and Ultimate Frisbee teams
by Nisha Ajmani '02
Doing sprints in the hail, rain and mud just
to practice catching a Frisbee or swing a crosse shows dedication.
At PLU, that’s the kind of dedication club sports athletes
endure much of the time. So why do club sports attract so many PLU
students? Because they’re different, motivating and full of
“I played every other sport and Ultimate
Frisbee brings the best parts of other sports together with a huge
emphasis on spirit,” said Aaron Bell ’04, 2002-03 captain
of the Ultimate Frisbee “A” team.
Club sports at PLU include lacrosse
and Ultimate Frisbee.
They were started by students looking for fun, local competition,
but have evolved and are becoming more serious, with many PLU
teams heading to league playoffs and national championship games.
This fall, the teams even have paid coaches for the first time.
To Bell, spirit means more than how well the
team plays. Bell started playing based on the nature of the game
and the attitude of the players. He loves the game because it’s
so personal. There are no referees, it’s laid back, he gets
to meet people and, even though it’s competitive, there’s
also camaraderie between opposing teams. Each team even makes up
a cheer for their opponent after a game and, sometimes they even
play other Frisbee games together for fun.
There is such an emphasis on spirit that “you
can be the best team in the world and not get invited to a tournament
if you don’t have good spirit,” Bell said. In fact,
at tournaments there are two trophies, one for the winning team
and one for the team with the best spirit.
Another reason Bell enjoys playing is because
of his diverse teammates. There are no tryouts, and everyone wants
to learn the game. The team is made up of students who might not
usually spend time together but remain supportive of each other
and develop friendships outside of playing. “People who might
not see eye to eye normally are getting along, which makes this
team the most satisfying and rewarding team I’ve been on,”
Part of what makes playing so gratifying for
the lacrosse teams is that most of the members are self-taught.
According to the 2002-03 women’s co-captains, Ellen Vaughn
’04 and Jessica Schwinck ’03, it’s OK not to know
how to play "We didn’t either,” Vaughn said.
Learning a new sport is part of the attraction.
“I’ve always been athletic, but I was burned out from
track, soccer, basketball and softball so I decided to try something
different,” said Emily Bruce ’06, a sophomore who plays
on the women’s lacrosse team.
Jennifer Thomas, PLU’s club sports coordinator,
agrees that lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee offer a great alternative
to varsity sports. But they’re still a lot of hard work. Before
they can even become club sports, the teams must meet requirements
from the Athletic Department. They receive limited funding from
the university and, until this semester, their coaches, if they
had any, were unpaid volunteers.
Now, players will have help making travel arrangements
and completing paperwork, but the teams will still be expected to
do a lot of the work. The men’s lacrosse team has a history
of going the extra mile to compete in tournaments. From working
security at concerts to the annual 100-hour LAXathon on campus,
the men’s team worked to raise money for travel, league fees,
equipment, uniforms and more. They even did yard work at PLU President
Loren Anderson’s house. “The president has actually
helped out a lot with supporting the team,” said Kyle Berggren
’03, last season’s co-captain.
Berggren, who will coach lacrosse at the University
of Puget Sound this year, thinks hiring paid coaches is a good idea
as long as the changes benefit both the university and the teams.
He and other players credit the past volunteer coaches Greg “Bubba”
Gutherless and Jason Stockton for their success. “They built
our program – in five years we moved into one of the top three
teams in the league,” Berggren said.
While many of the PLU’s club sports teams
rank highly, both locally and nationally, team spirit and friendship
are as important to many players as team standings. The women’s
and men’s lacrosse teams hang out together outside of practice
and even arrange their game schedule so they can be at each other’s
"I like Ultimate because it's a different
type of commitment than varsity sports," Bell said. "You're
out there with your friends."
Next Feature: Rx for Nursing
- Advances have changed the field in past 50 years
Women’s Lacrosse: Kristina Calvert '05 moves to get into
a good offensive position, while Ruth Bennett '06 tries to prevent
her from scoring a goal at practice. (Photo by Chris Tumbusch)
Lacrosse at PLU
on Club Sports at PLU
By: Leah Sprain '03
Ultimate Frisbee: Ike Brandt ’03 plays defense at a tournament
last spring, while Peter Olson ’04 closely watches the play.