By Jess Thomas
From just throwing a Frisbee around outside to playing in the State Ultimate Championship and winning the “Spirit Award,” Nashoba Regional High School’s Ultimate Frisbee team has come a long way in three years.
The squad, led by now-graduated Nashoba seniors Chris Buck, Patrick Bannon, and David Langberg, and junior Miles Hammill, has dedicated its time to finding a place to play and becoming a registered Frisbee team.
Buck, of Stow, put in the paperwork, talked to the assistant principal and made it an official Nashoba club.
Even though they made it a club for the first time, these young men also wanted to break the mold and create an official team that could play other teams in Massachusetts. It took a couple of years to get to this point, however.
Buck said, “When we first started playing, it was really just whoever showed up that day. We would split into two groups and play each other, so we didn’t play actual other schools until this year.”
They asked the Nashoba Athletic Director Tania Rich what fields were open so they could have a place to play. They were allowed to use a grassy area in front of Nashoba, but sometimes would have to relinquish the space for team sports such as lacrosse and softball. AD Rich helped put them in touch with the Bolton Recreation Department and they were very generously allowed to use space at Forebush right after school for games and practice.
During the winter, two years ago, they found an indoor soccer place, called Forekicks, located in Marlborough.
It was tough going at first, but the team was trying to get its feet wet for the first year. “The fields aren’t actually regulation size, but we wanted to try it out, so the first season that we played [at Forekicks], we lost every single game except one, which was a forfeit win,” Buck said. “Then we went back the next year and did a lot better; we actually won because we had more people and more experience.”
It was a challenge getting teammates to commit to playing more of a competitive style of Frisbee, according to Buck. “The hardest part was getting people into it. Getting people to really commit was a huge thing. Even getting people to come to practice was hard,” he said.
The leaders stressed that if they wanted to really go somewhere with this team, the team members needed to attend all practices and be fully committed.
At Forekicks, they played teams from Holliston, Medway, and Ashland and a few other teams that just happened to sign up to play at the arena.
After two years playing there, the squad registered as a team in the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance (BUDA), according to Buck. They played other schools such as Bromfield, Acton-Boxborough, Concord-Carlisle and Groton-Dunstable.
They registered their team name as Nashoba GUAC. The GUAC is short for guacamole. “There was a Chipotle right next to the Forekicks place, so after games we would go to Chipotle and eat burritos,” Buck said. “We made a joke about getting a lot of guacamole and somehow GUAC became the running joke.”
As a registered team, having played six games in the season, they were eligible for state competition. They were playing teams much farther away, such as Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood and the Middleborough Magic Markers, Buck said.
They designed a team jersey that is white with an avocado in the middle, with a Frisbee sailing out of the center. “We ordered jerseys midway through the season and they didn’t show up until the day of States,” Buck said. “We got them in the box that morning.”
Catherine Hammill, mother of team member Miles Hammill, spoke about the results of the championship round. “The State Ultimate Championship [was] on June 1 at Devens for Division III, five grueling games in the hot sun. They won four out of five games and came in third in the state,” she said.
Ultimate Frisbee is a different breed of game because it is officiated by the players themselves. Buck said that the closest perspective to the play gets the call and everyone else agrees to it.
“Getting people to actually make the calls took a while to get used to because usually there are referees to do it for you,” Buck said.
Another measure of team success is team spirit and sportsmanship, with opposing teams handing out the marks to each other. “Since the game is based on sportsmanship, basically after you play other teams, you give them a score of one to five on how well they played or if they were a good team to play,” he said.
Buck noted they received a five out of five on their spirit score. “We won the Spirit Award, and for a team that’s never played in States before, to win the Spirit Award is a big thing,” Buck said proudly.
“It feels really good to finally get the actual sport going and playing other schools,” Buck said.
As for next year, Buck said, “I think there’s enough to keep the team going, and I know that Miles is going to take over.” Buck is hoping more people will jump on board.
“It’s a lot of fun, and you get to meet a lot of really cool people when you’re playing,” Buck said. “I’m hoping they can get more people in and the club can keep going.”
Buck plans to continue playing Ultimate Frisbee at Stonehill College in Easton.
Catherine Hammill commended the players for doing a great job making Ultimate a big deal at Nashoba.
“The kids did a huge amount of work to make this happen. Pat Bannon in particular really took an enormous leadership role and made sure it all happened,” Hammill said.
Any student interested in joining the Nashoba GUAC team, can contact Miles Hammill at MilesHammill@gmail.com.