Newton North girls ultimate frisbee team gears up for new season

Newton North’s girls ultimate frisbee team, one of North’s most successful programs, will begin its season on Monday, March 18.

After placing third in the state and eighth in the nation last year, the team hopes to build its skill, spirit and community with new coaches and players.

“I think that a lot of other sports can get toxic. So people dread going to practice. But I look forward to practice every single day. It’s actually so good. I talk about it all year,” said junior Eliza Dyett. “Everyone’s usually just really positive in ultimate and you can learn and be happy together.”

Their former head coach, Heather Raker, a member of the US Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Fame, retired at the end of last season, and Peggy Hollinger, also a member of the Hall of Fame, has taken over the team, joined by Bert Granofsky and Christine Dunlap as assistants. All three will split time coaching during the season.

“It’s not going to be as consistent as it was last year with having the same person every day,” said senior Mia Diana, a captain. “Our goal will be to just manage that and also try to do as well or better than we did last year.”

Last year, the team qualified for the High School National Invite, a tournament of the best ultimate teams in the country, and placed eighth.

“It was just a lot of fun to get to go to Salt Lake City and play all these new teams because we’ve only ever really played Massachusetts teams,” said Dyett. 

According to senior Grace Vaughn, a captain, qualifying again is a central goal for this season. 

“It was kind of a big deal because we weren’t trying and we didn’t know we could,” she said. “So this year we’re going to try to go to Nationals and see how that ends up.”

Another goal is to strengthen the community of the team. Central parts of the sport are the sportsmanship and spirit that are built into the rules, according to Vaughn.

“You don’t see frowning faces, you don’t see boos, you don’t see bad sportsmanship stuff,” she said. “It’s just very nice, everyone’s very nice, which I really like.”

Team members have their own traditions for raising the spirit of games and practices. For example, they start every game with a scream line.

“On the first point of any game, the starting line will go down the line and scream at each other,” said Dyett. “And then when it gets to the last person, everyone screams together. And that’s how we start all our games.” 

Senior Shira Lobron, who is rejoining the team after being away last season, says the most important part of the sport for her is being a member of the community that the team creates.

“I’m not the best player per se, so I’m mostly just doing it for the team aspect. But it’s also just fun to run around for a few hours, catch a disc, throw a disc,” she said. “I’m excited to get back out there and improve my skills as well.”