GVSU ultimate frisbee club defeats Ferris State

GVL/Mackenzie Bush - The GVSU Ultimate Frisbee team gathers before their game Monday, April 17, 2017.

Mackenzie Bush

GVL/Mackenzie Bush – The GVSU Ultimate Frisbee team gathers before their game Monday, April 17, 2017.

Jacob Arvidson

Freshman handler Jarret Basset gets the disc just across midfield. Looking up, he can’t find a teammate and elects to pass the disc back five yards to senior cutter Zach Jawahir.

The pass to Jawahir gives freshman Preston Saycocie the chance to break free from his defender in the end zone. Seeing Saycocie break free, Jawahir zips a 35-yard pass ahead of his teammate. The weight and speed of the pass is perfect, meeting Saycocie in the back corner of the end zone with just enough time to keep his feet in bounds.

Saycocie’s score would put the Grand Valley State men’s club ultimate team ahead of Ferris State 6-2, a lead they would build upon in the second half as they cruised to a 17-7 win over the Bulldogs Monday, April 17.

The GVSU ultimate Frisbee team has placed in the top three of its two most recent tournaments, beating out almost 60 other teams on each occasion. The recent success has allowed the Lakers to reach their first top 100 ranking in the club’s history, establishing themselves as the second-best team in the Great Lakes Conference.

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that is self-officiated. That means the players call their own fouls and rulings during the run of play. If a player goes to throw the disc and the player’s arm is slapped by a defender in the process, the offensive player needs only to say, “foul,” and play will restart with the offensive team still in possession.

The self-officiation creates a brotherhood amongst ultimate players of different teams. Following the game against Ferris State, both teams gathered at midfield in one big group huddle, laughing and bonding over the sport they all enjoy.

But the idea of not having an objective rules official presiding over the game can cause some to criticize the sport.

“That’s a big knock on the sport,” Jawahir said. “It definitely takes away from the credibility for a lot of people. They don’t think you can have a competitive sport with winners, losers and champions without a ref.”

Ultimate must also fight misconceptions about the sport, a struggle recognized by the GVSU squad.

“A lot of people think it’s disc golf,” said senior handler Ryan Muliett. “They don’t understand that it’s not just throwing a Frisbee back and forth. Everyone out there is actually athletic and we do a lot of running and training and conditioning for this. It’s more legit than people think.”

Once the players step foot on the field, all the criticisms and misconceptions go out the window. The thrill of the game and the love of the sport trump everything else for the Laker players. The thrill becomes even more exhilarating when someone makes a layout defensive play. The spectacular display of defensive athleticism doesn’t happen all too often, but when it does, it’s special.

“Hype ones happen very rarely,” said senior cutter Phillip Zauel. “But when you or your teammate lays out and knocks down a pass, it’s such a cool feeling. You know it was a big play and you also know it looked sweet.”

GVSU’s triumph over Ferris will give the Lakers momentum heading into the conference tournament in Byron Center, Michigan Saturday, April 22. However, the bigger moments will come Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 as the squad heads to the regional tournament in Fair Oaks, Indiana.