Northeastern University ultimate frisbee program to compete in the 2019 Division I College Championships

Ilya Yudkovich and his teammates on the men’s ultimate frisbee club at Northeastern have reached the national championships for the first time in program history. The women’s club has reached nationals for the fifth time. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The disc soared through the crisp air of an April afternoon.

A player on the men’s ultimate frisbee club at Northeastern snagged it, landed in his opponent’s end zone, and celebrated the score by thrusting his arms toward the sky.

The Huskies had defeated UMass, a perennial powerhouse in ultimate frisbee, and punched their ticket to the Division 1 College Championships, which will be played in Austin, Texas, this weekend.

“It felt incredible to knock off a powerhouse,” says Benjamin Centracchio, a sophomore who plays on the men’s club, which has qualified for the national tournament for the first time in program history. “And we want to bring that momentum and carry it through to nationals.”

The men’s club will be joined by the women’s ultimate frisbee club at Northeastern, which will be making its fifth appearance in the national championships in program history.

“It feels amazing to qualify for nationals,” says Katharine Gilbert, a fourth-year student who captains the women’s team. “We’ve been working towards this for a long time. We’re really looking forward to playing some new teams.”

Ultimate frisbee requires a lot of teamwork, but the rules are easy to follow. The objective of the game, played 7-on-7, is to score points by completing passes in the opposing team’s endzone. Players have 10 seconds to throw the disc, may not run with the disc, and can not make physical contact with their opponents. Players are expected to know the rules, abide by a code known as the “spirit of the game,” and referee their own matches.

Ultimate frisbee players Ilya Yudkovich and Anna Sciaruto toss a disc on the William E. Carter Playground. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Centracchio says that the popularity of ultimate frisbee at Northeastern reached an all-time high this fall, when more than 200 students tried out for the men’s team.

He says that the Huskies have been practicing at least four times a week and wearing extra layers of clothing to prepare for the tournament in Texas, where temperatures are expected to reach the 90s.

“We want to be the hardest working team,” says Centracchio, who studies bioengineering. “We’re not playing for rankings or reputation, we’re playing for ourselves and our teammates.”

Gilbert says that winning the national championship would be incredible. “It would mean a lot of hard work paid off,” says Gilbert, who studies environmental science. “We would be ecstatic, but we are ready for it.”

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