On a typical weekday night, you can find the Shippensburg University Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team practicing down at the recreational fields next to the storage and commuter lots.
But like so many other teams, the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has presented a multitude of changes for Ship Ultimate.
In a normal semester, Ship Ultimate is in full swing. The team holds practices a few times a week as it prepares for competition in the spring. However, it was not until two weeks ago, that the team finally saw the field.
According to team President Ryan Kolimaga, the group is currently practicing three days a week. Like all other SU athletic teams, members of the squad are required to wear masks and social distance when possible, during the sessions.
For Ship Ultimate, the transition to the new normal has been somewhat of a challenge. The team has been itching to get back to full speed for months, especially after their season abruptly ended back in the beginning of March.
The team had just come off a tournament down in North Carolina when ream members heard the news of the university’s transition to virtual learning. At the tournament, the team finished 4-2 and knocked-off the No. 2 school in the country for Division III. It was a tough pill to swallow.
“We were really happy with where we after the tournament,” Kolimaga said. “And then to lose our season and not be able to practice for seven months, the guys were dying to get things going.”
Despite being grounded, some members of the team were able to take part in throwing sessions over the summer. Beyond that, there was not much they could do.
With things slowly getting back to true form, Kolimaga said the team is taking one day at a time. When asked about games in the spring, Kolimaga said at this point, those are still up in the air.
USA Ultimate (USAU) holds the reigns to competition in the spring season. Kolimaga said he has not heard any word from them yet.
“Spring is our main season and that’s where we go through our big and sanctioned tournaments,” he said. “Then around April, is when our conferences and regionals start, and that’s kind of like our playoffs. But who knows where we’ll be months down the road. So, at this point we’re just taking what we can get.”
All the down time has had its positive effects. Kolimaga said its given members of the team time to focus on other parts of their lives like school and their families. And during a phase when sticking together is key, Kolimaga feels the team has really grown together.
“Obviously we were dying to get back out there, but this year more than ever, we’ve gotten to talk about the game itself,” he said. “Over the summer we had discussions about what we could be doing, how we could practice, and we really got closer as a team and that was cool to see.”
Teammate Anthony Rapposelli added, “The team is a family and no matter what, we’re going to pick up right where we left off. The chemistry between our team is amazing and we’re just excited to get back out on the field and play some ultimate.”
With the future in question, Ship Ultimate will continue to push forward. But for now, the practice fields will remain the only taste of action they will see for some time.