After competing in two state tournaments this fall, the Union Jaxx Ultimate Frisbee club team hopes to represent Union at multiple tournaments in the spring and advance to nationals.
The Jaxx competed in the Golden Beagle Classic at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville Oct. 19-20.
The team finished 10th, beating University of Alabama at Birmingham and Blade, a club team.
On Oct. 26-27, the Jaxx traveled to Knoxville to compete in the Dave Baldwin Memorial Tournament, placing fifth and winning the consolation bracket, defeating Indiana Wesleyan, Middle Tennessee State University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Y-team.
“We have had a huge confidence boost to be able to beat bigger schools,” said Jesse Dahms, sophomore psychology and business management major and team captain. “[This season] we beat some very good opponents, had some very close matches, made some great plays and grew a lot as a team.”
“Considering we are a second-year team, we are playing against programs that have been around for 20 years and beating them,” said Jaxx Coach Harrison Hayes. “That’s a testament to our guys: their work ethic, their passion, their level of play; it’s fun to go out there and watch these guys grow into men on the field.”
Even though fall tournaments are over, the team will continue to practice and scrimmage once a week. Players also train weekly with professional trainers at Solus Performance Training in Jackson, the same facility in which the men’s and women’s basketball teams train.
In spring 2014, the Jaxx will compete in six tournaments in Tennessee and surrounding states.
“If we keep placing high in tournaments we can make our goal, which is to compete in nationals,” Hayes said. “According to USA Ultimate, our governing body, we are a Division III school. Our goal is to be considered a Division I school so we can play the best of the best and beat the best of the best.”
When the Jaxx began in fall 2012, the team had only had 15 players with little experience in competitive Ultimate.
This year, 22 players are on the roster, mostly consisting of freshmen and sophomores, with a handful of upperclassmen.
“[Last year] we only had one or two players who could handle the disc and work it upfield,” Hayes said. “Our throwing has improved the most over the last year. Confidence is also one of the most improved areas — their confidence has skyrocketed.”
A club team is a sports program that is not offered as a school varsity team but is more highly structured than the intramural program and provides competition against other universities.
Since the Jaxx is not a university-sponsored or National Collegiate Athletic Association team, it pays for all expenses — jerseys, traveling, food and training — throughout the season.
“We received $200 from Student Senate this semester, but the rest comes out of the players’ pockets,” Hayes said. “We pay to go compete and be a shining light for people in the Ultimate world. It’s something really special that we get to do.”