Following a semifinal exit in the Ohio Valley Division III ultimate frisbee championships last year, the men’s ultimate team, Kenyon SERF, kicked off their 2016-17 campaign Saturday. This weekend, Kenyon hosted ultimate squads from The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.), Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio) and Franciscan University of Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio).
SERF dubs this annual tournament, the first taste of competitive ultimate for new players, the “learnament.” The objective is to prepare first years and other newcomers for the year ahead.
“It is basically a tournament that helps all the freshmen learn how to play the game of frisbee and get comfortable with the environment, see other teams and get some real competition,” SERF Captain Burke Irwin ’19 said.
The tournament is part of the ultimate frisbee preseason, so SERF judges the success of the weekend not on results but rather on what the players took away from the matches.
“I thought it was an overall success,” Irwin said. “I thought all the teams had fun and it was mainly about growth of freshmen.”
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Justin Sun ’20, a news writer for the Collegian and a player with no prior experience, found numerous benefits in the relatively relaxed environment.
“Game experience is very helpful,” he said. “It’s a faster pace than in practice.”
Sun explained the value of playing alongside older and more experienced players. “I made a few plays, but I definitely was learning a lot,” he said. “The guys on the team are great at pointing out when you’re doing stuff wrong, but not in a condescending way. They are very helpful.”
Although Ohio State and Michigan State are much larger schools, SERF still competes well with the two. Franciscan — which eliminated SERF from the Ohio Valley Division III tournament last year — was the best team in attendance over the weekend, according to Irwin.
“Franciscan is the best team in the country for D-III,” Irwin said. “Ohio State and Michigan [State] are on our level.”
Even though the spring competitive season is a long way away, Irwin is optimistic for the year to come. With the help of new first years like Sun, he hopes to go even further than last season.
“I think we have a lot of talent on the team, so I would really like to place within the top three in our conference,” Irwin said. “I think we are capable of that.”