Spartan ultimate confronts the Edina hornets

On May 18, the Spartan ultimate frisbee team was defeated by the Edina Hornets JV2 team with a final score of 7-14. This was the second home game of the season, and it gathered many Spartan fans. Teachers, students, alumni and former ultimate players all gathered on the field, cheering the team on.

The score at halftime was 2-8, but the team didn’t give up and kept pushing.

“I just want to take a moment to say I’m really proud of [the half]. It was really good. It obviously didn’t end up going our way, but I’d rather lose a game that we played well than winning a game that we played poorly. I’m happy about that,” ultimate head coach Ryan Reding encouraged the team at halftime.

After spotlighting the things the team was doing good, the coach moved on to discuss the importance of having a positive mindset and ways players can give themselves constructive feedback.

“We’re all out here because it’s ultimate. It’s a game, and we want to have fun. But it’s also important that … we should be our own worst critics. But we want critiques to be helpful and something that can move us forward. If we did something bad, saying ‘I did bad’ is meaningless. But saying ‘I should do X, Y, and Z better’ helps,” Reding said.

When it came to reflection, one of the biggest challenges during the game was adaptation.

For example, the “zone” formation was unfamiliar to the Spartans. Instead of assigning each person on the team to guard other individuals, a zone is when the whole team covers a certain area together. “[With that], you can’t do the normal bird stack where you all line up and you cut in one single file,” senior Simon Assefa said.

In order to break out of these tough formations at that very moment, one of the obvious but hardest things the team could do was to move faster.

The team listened attentively and nodded with dripping sweat as they circled around the coach during the huddle. “As soon as the disc is in the air, there is no offense. And there is no defense. Just try to get to the frisbee as soon as possible. Put your body there, set yourself up in the position and wait,” Reding said. The coach wanted the players and the disc to move as fast as possible, and that included knowing where all the teammates are at every moment of the game.

“We knew today we’re going against a really strong team, so we just played our game the best as we could. [We saw a lot of defense or offense formations] we hadn’t seen before, so sometimes we would have to react on the fly. We tried to react well, learn new stuff, and adjust our play style as best as we could against a very strong opponent,” Reding said.

I think ultimate as a sport has a really good environment between the teams compared to some other sports. It’s [still] about winning, but it’s also like a more friendly competition.

— Nicholas McCarthy

The best highlight of the game wasn’t anything specific, but it was the game itself. The Spartans’ optimistic energy stayed high at all times as the team cheered by yelling the names of the players on the field simultaneously.

“I think ultimate as a sport has a really good environment between the teams compared to some other sports. It’s [still] about winning, but it’s also like a more friendly competition, “ sophomore Nicholas McCarthy said.

This strong sense of unity and community-building not only exists within the team, but it also stretches to the opponents. Every game wraps up the same way as the two teams gather together in a big circle, signaling the presentation of the Ultimate Spirit Award. This mini informal award ceremony is every ultimate team’s tradition and way of recognizing individuals on the other team that contributed positively to the atmosphere.

“One time I gave out this orange [as our Sprit Award for the other team]. And it’s a tradition at SPA where the person that receives the award has to bite into the skin,” McCarthy said. At this game, juniors Theo Zimmerman and David Kopilenko were each awarded a blue Gatorade from Edina.

Next week, June 3-4, the Spartans will be participating in the Minnesota Ultimate High School State Championship at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Come out and support the team as they wrap up their season.