Cedarville’s club ultimate Frisbee team, The Swarm, hopes to play in the regional tournament in the spring just like last season. But with only 11 players returning, this will be difficult to do.
The team graduated seven players in May 2015, which included all three captains and two other starters.
One of the new captains, senior Andrew Richard, said making it back to the regional tournament would be great, but the team has a more important long-term goal.
“Pretty much the last of the guys that were here when we originally started are leaving,” he said. “We want to make it a program that lasts for years to come.”
Now entering its fourth season, The Swarm hopes to develop the team into a long-term program. This season the team is taking some necessary steps to achieve that goal, coach Tony Donato said.
One of this season’s additions is coaches, something that is becoming popular in competitive ultimate Frisbee.
Recent graduates and last year’s captains, Donato and Andrew Wiebe, will be returning to the team this season as coaches. Donato will coach the varsity team, and Wiebe will coach the development team. Donato said having a coach is becoming more of a common thing in the sport.
“Now that ultimate is growing as a sport, coaches are required to stay competitive,” Donato said. “You won’t see a team at Nationals without a coach.”
Many teams don’t have coaches because they aren’t big enough or competitive enough. Donato said most coaches are ex-players like himself, but the bigger programs usually have outsiders come to coach. He said location is also a factor in hiring a coach, just because some areas are more competitive than others.
Donato said one goal he and Wiebe hope to achieve as coaches is to build a stable program. He said one thing that helps this season is that there is a full-sized development team. The development team has grown from 12 players to 21. The varsity team has also grown from 20 players to 26. A varsity team is usually about 16 players.
This season the team has three new captains in Richard and Trevor Marshall, both seniors, and junior Josh Shamburger.
Donato said the coaches believe they can propel the team back to Nationals for the first time in three years.
The team is also making changes to its practices. Donato said this season the team will be more focused on individual drills rather than seven-on-seven play. He said this will better prepare the newer players.
“Last year we found out the hard way that our rookies were not ready to play with the teams at regionals,” Donato said. “If me and Wiebe were not involved in all 15 points, we would not win.”
Donato said the rookies are responding well in practice.
“Fundamentally, they are getting it,” he said. “Skill-wise, they are really into it. That is something I have not seen since we went to Nationals.”
The team also hopes to begin developing strategies against its opponents this season. Donato said that is something the team has not been able to do without a coach.
The Swarm also plans to focus on the spiritual growth of its players through discipleship groups.
Donato said players have never had enough time to manage both the team and discipleship groups, but he said the team hopes to foster more of a community within the d-groups.
“I think it will make the team stronger as a whole,” Donato said. “We think it is important for there to be spiritual growth among the guys. We want to make ultimate Frisbee about Christ.”
Donato said this is something most teams don’t do, despite the fact that most teams in the division, Division III, are smaller Christian schools.
Richard said the team also wants to be able to witness to the non-Christian opponents the team plays against.
“We want to use the team as a ministry,” Richard said. “We are well-known by other teams for having good spirit.”
Marshall said he hopes the d-groups will help create more of a camaraderie among the players.
“We want it to be a place where guys can grow close and be able to talk about anything with each other,” he said.
Donato said he believes what makes The Swarm attractive to players is the community the team has been able to build. He said the team has hung out more and more over the years, and the team has become a brotherhood.
“I still talk to ex-players,” Donato said. “I convinced a guy who lives in Iowa to come back and play in Dayton with me.”
Marshall said he has made some of his best friends playing on the team. He also said he knows a guy back home that wants to come to Cedarville because of its ultimate program.
“We want to grow ultimate as a sport,” Marshall said. “We want to get new guys out here falling in love with it so the team can continue in future years.”
Josh Burris is a junior journalism major and multimedia person for Cedars. He is interested in sports broadcasting and reporting. He enjoys watching sports, lifting, and listening to rock and rap music.