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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Alumni return to the “family” of the Knox ultimate frisbee team

Frisbee+captain+talking+to+team+before+game
Megan Shafar
Frisbee captain talking to team before game

“Lots of fun, lots of spirit,” said senior Maren Borchers, describing the first day of the 29th annual Natalie Veneziano Winter Whiteout Ultimate Frisbee Tournament as she stood on the sidelines in between playing and cheering on her teammates.

Throughout the tournament last Saturday and Sunday, the Knox fieldhouse was filled with music and laughter. Cheers echoed from both sides of the field.

Seven teams competed, including the current Knox team and a team of Knox alumni. Six games were played consecutively each day. Ultimately—pun intended—Busse, one of the visiting teams, won the tournament.

The Knox players kept each other in high spirits on and off the field.

“I’m proud of our team,” said junior Madeline Hart. “I think that we’ve played really well and that we’ve kept pretty upbeat through wins and losses and not allowed either to get to our head too much.”

Fifth year Kevin Cox has been part of the team since his first year at Knox and noticed that the team culture has shifted in recent years, which he says has also improved their playing.

“Before Covid, the team was kind of divided occasionally amongst each other because of friendships that just weren’t working out,” Cox said. “But now, there’s an emphasis on friendship and then there’s also an emphasis on playing good, and that works. That works good.”

Several players and alumni called the frisbee team a family, including Hart, who said she joined within her first two weeks at Knox.

“Now I’ve been on the team for two and a half years,” Hart said. “My best friends are on the team, my roommate is on the team, like all of my social interactions for the most part are through frisbee in some way.”

For first-year Sam Boyas, the friendships found through frisbee have been forming fast.

“They’re very welcoming, very kind,” Boyas said about the team. “It’s like I fit in right away. So, I feel like I’ve been on this team for years, and it’s only winter term.”

Boyas said she “fell in love with frisbee in high school” and decided to come to Knox because of the frisbee team. She is enjoying playing on a co-ed team and at a more competitive level.

Many Knox alumni also expressed love for the game and each other by returning, sometimes again and again, to this tournament.

“My eyes have watered like five times already, just seeing everybody,” said Odette Herrand ‘22. “Very nostalgic.”

Herrand said they enjoy getting to see how the current Knox team is improving, especially since they played on the team with some of the current upperclassmen.

“I think there’s so much value in being able to come back to a school and have this opportunity to meet with the undergrads and support them and teach them,” Herrand said.

This is the first year that the team of current students does not have players who were there when Keara Crook, ‘19, was on the team. She said she wondered if she would feel disconnected coming back this year, but “it was like nothing changed.”

Crook currently plays semi-pro frisbee and serves on the Detroit Ultimate Frisbee League Board.

“People think ultimate frisbee ends after college,” Crook said. But she, and other alumni who return to play in the tournament, demonstrate that the sport can be a lifelong passion.

Frisbee is still part of Herrand’s life, too, as they are getting back into playing league, club, and pickup games after an injury.

A few of the alumni at the tournament have been coming back for decades. Many current students look forward to returning someday, as well.

Borchers said she plans to come back to play in the tournament as an alum, even though it would be far to travel, because she has grown so close to the team.

The tournament was renamed several years ago to honor Natalie Veneziano, ‘98, who battled cancer and passed away in 2004.

“Natalie was an embodiment of what ultimate is,” Tom Bazan, ‘05, said in a speech before the tournament. “‘It’s all good’ was her mantra; this is, we can play hard, we can try to win, we can play competitively, but we’re also here to have fun and remember that we’re all doing this together.”

That attitude, players say, is important to the game itself.

“Frisbee is a really cool sport because it’s self-reffed, so you have to call your own fouls; you have to be very knowledgeable about the rules,” Hart said. “You have to be able to talk through conflict in a respectful manner to both sides of the field. Even if you want to win, you have to make sure that you state the truth.”

After games, Hart explained, the players on both teams form a spirit circle, where they give each other specific compliments and celebrate each other.

“I really hope it keeps going,” Herrand said. “I want to be one of these alumni that show up, and have been showing up, and they have their families come in. Every year, I see you here; I’m like, yes, I want to be that.”

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About the Contributor
Megan Shafar
Megan Shafar, Staff Writer
Megan Shafar '26 (she/her) is a staff writer. She is majoring in environmental studies and minoring in public policy and enjoys dancing, reading, and watching shows.

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