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Coaching from the Field

Ithaca College Ultimate Nawshus team at Bowser Bash tournament. Photo Credit: Sharon Mejia
By Tiarra Braddock and Sharon Mejia

In most major sports, you can witness coaches giving orders from the sidelines to their players. But, that is not the scenario for one club team at Ithaca College.

The people giving orders to the Ithaca College Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, also known as Nawshus Ultimate, aren’t on the sideline but on the field playing with their team.

Kevin Doubleday ’17 and Alec Tucker ‘17 are the practice captains of the Nawshus Ultimate and they take on the same leadership roles as a team coach. Both Doubleday and Tucker focus on the team’s physical skills necessary to get them through practice and tournaments.

Scott Goodheart ‘17 and Drew Steirhoff ‘18 are the team’s organizational captains in charge of handling the club’s financial business and tournaments for the year.

As a team that relies on the leadership and game skills of practice captains, Doubleday commented on whether he thinks the team would ever need a coach.

“It depends on the group dynamic — we have been really lucky to have fantastic individuals. Having a handle on things demonstrates incredible leadership, and we have passed on the skills and expertise of the sport onto my grade,” Doubleday said.

Quentin LeVant ‘17, the team’s social media coordinator said there have been several discussions on the team gaining a coach, but have chosen to rely on the experiences they gain to teach the incoming players.

Nawshus occasionally has previous IC Ultimate alumni come back to help sharpen current players’ skills. However, Nawshus still relies heavily on the leadership of team captains and whom the team members select.

LeVant said the team elects stern and driven practice captains who will also recognize that players are going to make mistakes.

Although the IC Ultimate team is a club sport, the players still uphold the same values as a varsity sport while balancing their academics.

“We tell all the guys we understand that you have school work … but we do expect everyone to be here and give it the same kind of enthusiasm and effort they would of a varsity sport because that’s the only way you can effectively grow a program,” LeVant said.

The age difference between the leaders and the team can also play a role in the group dynamics. Quentin mentioned that over the years it’s gotten a little more difficult to have a player captain the same age as them, but as a team they must respect the captain’s calls.

“Ultimate is the fastest growing sport in America and is considered to be more of a community and a culture than it has been in past,” LeVant said.

Although most clubs sports do receive funding from the school, the Ultimate team also does fundraising.

This past Saturday, Nawshus Ultimate had their first mixed tournament of the season called Bowser Bash, where they played against other Northeast ultimate teams such as Colgate University, SUNY Cortland, RIT, Marist College and Syracuse University. LeVant said they sold merchandise at the tournament to help fundraise money for the team.

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The Ithaca College Nawshus team vs. Colgate University at the Bowser Bash tournament.  Photo Credits: Sharon Mejia 

LeVant stated these kinds of tournaments give new players a chance to experience what the culture is like and how the sport is played.

Although the nature of the game is light-hearted in the fall, the game becomes highly competitive and fast-paced in the spring when they play in regionals and sectionals.

The fall season for Nawshus acts as more of a recruitment and skills building time. And, in the spring semester, they head to South Carolina during spring break for a week-long tournament called High Tide.

Doubleday said if he sees the Ultimate team expanding to a varsity level sport anytime soon, but he said Ultimate is not yet recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association so they only work on a D3 and D1 club sport system.

Doubleday also shows how he manages to balance his academics and position on the team, and said it’s all about making time for the things that are important to you.

“I always seem to think that when you have passion and love for something, it’s not an issue about how much time you should spend on it,” Doubleday said. “It’s almost a part of your life like eating, sleeping or breathing.”

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