There are no referees in the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, so during tournaments, players must self-officiate their games and demonstrate what is known in the Ultimate world as “Spirit of the Game.” At Grinnell, we know this as self-governance. So, what school would be better to host an Ultimate tournament than Grinnell?
This weekend, Mac Field was covered with Frisbee players as the men and women’s Ultimate teams hosted a tournament. The women’s team is called the Sticky Tongue Frogs and the men are the Grinnellephants, lending its name to this tournament, Elephantitis.
This year’s Elephantitis was the largest Frisbee tournament the College has hosted—32 teams in total from around the Midwest region, including 18 men’s teams and 14 women’s teams. The teams that attended came from a range of schools including both large universities, such as Iowa State, and other small liberal arts colleges like Macalester College and Luther College. The team designed a logo for Elephantitis and sold discs. In addition, they had an Ultimate clothing company, Savage, sell gear at the tournament.
Carla Eckland ’13, a captain of the women’s team, appreciated the experience that the tournament allowed for the team.

Mia Ritter throws the disc to a teammate. Photograph by Remy Ferber.

“The women’s team has a lot of first years this year who have a lot to learn about the game of Ultimate and, although we did not win any of our games this weekend, we saw some huge improvements in our team’s confidence on the field and understanding of the game,” Eckland said.
The competitive Frisbee season is in the spring and Eckland stressed that the most important part of the fall tournament is the learning aspect. Players use this season to improve their skill and knowledge of the game and prepare for the spring season. Despite the fact that it was not the actual competitive season, the teams came out as ready to play as they would be for a spring game and performed to the full extent of their abilities. The captains did their best to encourage the players and kept their energy up throughout the tournament.
“Our women’s team definitely benefited from this weekend because they saw what a real game of Ultimate is like,” Eckland said. “They will continue to improve and have a blast across this fall season as we travel to away tournaments and gain more experience.”
Those who participated in the tournament did not necessarily have much Ultimate experience. Most of the teams, especially the Grinnell teams, had a high percentage of freshmen players, some who played in high school and some who have only had a few weeks of training.
Charlie Rathe, a first year from the University of Iowa, expressed essentially the same sentiment as Eckland about the tournament.
“It’s great for rookies, because it’s a [good] initial experience of college ultimate, and it’s really fun,” he said.
Ultimate is an intense game that requires physicality. As the players start to get tired, the competitiveness sometimes translates into aggression, so the Grinnell team offered an opportunity for the players to unwind with each other and get familiar with everyone off the field.
It seemed that the players came to one common agreement—the highlight of that weekend was the party that took place on Saturday, September 22. That evening, after a long day of competition, all the players gathered at the campsite of Lyle Bauman, Marketplace Supervisor, for barbeque, burgers and dancing—a chance to get to know their competitors and rest before the next set of games.
“The best part about the whole weekend, and tournaments in general, is that it fosters the Ultimate community and helps reinforce players’ love of the game and the spirit of ultimate,” Eckland said.
“A lot of [the party] was meeting new people from different teams and a lot of it was talking,” said Thomas Robinson ’16. “It was a good time.”
This Saturday, the women’s team will attend a one-day tournament on October 6 called Banana Split. Both teams will compete in the No Wisconsequences tournament in Milwaukee on October 13 and 14.

Edit: Title was fixed at 2:07 p.m. on Friday.