The men’s club ultimate frisbee team has undergone major improvements in the past four years. Originally a nonchalant club with a dozen members, it has evolved from the worst team in their section into a reputable program featuring a men’s A and B team and women’s team.
This year the men’s A team has qualified for the regional tournament for first time in program history. Senior captain Andy Bausback attributes the change to fellow senior captain David Burg.
“He really turned the program around,” Bausback said. “Our freshman year, things were awful. Berg has been very involved in bringing us closer to our goal of making regionals.”
The senior class as a whole has been a big factor in the development of the team improving over the summer, by playing for club teams and trying out for professional teams.
“All of these guys made academic, professional and personal sacrifices for this team,” Bausback said.
It was not hard work on the field alone that changed the program. Major recruiting efforts have been underway to get more bodies out to practice. The team currently has 25 players on the A team, another 20 on the B team and 15 on the women’s team. The seniors and juniors understood the value of young players to the legacy of the program and made an effort to find new blood.
But numbers alone do not win games, and the men’s A team was worried about advancing this year. The team was knocked out of a spot to regionals last year with a loss to William and Mary.
“That was really heartbreaking. We thought last year would be our big chance to break through,” said sophomore captain Nathan Slade.
After losing only two seniors, the bulk of the team returned for this season, bringing with them a good work ethic and plenty of experience. All year the veteran leaders preached that this was their year, building confidence within the younger members of the team.
“Berg gave us our motto that you want to have it as much as you want to breathe, wanting to win as bad as you want to breathe,”said Anthony McLean, sophomore captain. The team was unable to beat William and Mary this year but still advanced to regionals after an emotional 13-3 win over VCU.
“It was just like last year. The last game was the game to go to regionals,” McLean said. “This time, though, we had all the emotion of knowing this might be our seniors last game if we lose and we just ran away with it.”
The regional tournament this year will be held in Axton, Va. Mason will be facing elite teams from James Madison University, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland and other big name opponents from up and down the Atlantic coast. If Mason can place in the top two spots at regionals they will move on to play in the national championship tournament in Madison, Wis.
The team heads into the tournament determined to win it all.
“If we play these teams the way we played against VCU we can hang with anyone,” Slade said. With a new batch of hot-blooded freshmen replacing the large senior class, the team shows promise to make regionals for years to come.