If a team has to finish its season with five losses, it might as well do it on the biggest stage. Which is why even though the GW men’s ultimate Frisbee team did not win any of its games at the national championship, the Hippos walked away with their heads held high.
“We met so many people that said, ‘so what if you didn’t win, you still got to go to nationals, there are a lot of good teams that don’t get to go,'” senior club President Ed Van Leer said.
The Hippos, ranked 14 out of 16 teams in the national championship, lost all of their five games at the three-day tournament in Spokane, Washington over Memorial Day Weekend. But they faced some stiff competition.
On the first day, May 24, the men faced the defending national champions from Carleton College in Minnesota, 2001 runner-up University of Colorado at Boulder and conference-winner University of Illinois. The second day did not get any easier as the Hippos faced fifth-ranked University of California Santa Cruz and Iowa State.
“Even though we didn’t win any games, no one’s upset,” Van Leer said. “Just the experience of going to our first national championships is huge.”
Overall, GW finished 15th while Stanford University won the men’s championship, beating runner-up Wisconsin in the final game. In the women’s final, University of California San Diego finished first in front of second-place Stanford.
The men, who qualified for their first national championship by finishing second at regionals in Princeton, N.J. last month, have come a long way since their founding five years ago. The last of the original founders of the team graduated this year.
“(Nationals) was a great way for the founding fathers to end their rule,” Van Leer said.
And after five years the program keeps improving, he said.
“Next year we hope to come back and win a couple of games and turn some heads,” Van Leer said.
The GW women, who finished their season at regionals and did not advance to nationals, are also expecting positive improvement next season. They are graduating only one senior and returning an excellent crop of juniors, sophomores and freshmen, Captain Patti McLaughlin said.
“This year we really showed people we are a force to be reckoned with,” she said. “Next year they should look out.”