The men’s ultimate frisbee team, TRON, took the new year as a fresh start to their spring season of the Division III U.S.A. Ultimate season. With an amazing finish at second place in last year’s U.S.A. Ultimate Championships, TRON has not stopped working to improve. “We fully expect to be a team that can compete for the championship in the spring,” said Captain Mike Humbert ’17.
The fall season started with an influx of 22 new members who were instantly attracted to the rising organization. “We get more and more freshmen that come to school already planning on joining the team, and more and more of those freshmen are coming in with prior ultimate experience,” said Humbert. “Two years ago we had about 25 consistent members and now we have upwards of 40.” The swell in membership has allowed the program to expand to form a second team.
“One of our goals this year is to have a competitive B-side. When we first created the team last year, it was pretty last second, and it was hard to keep the team structured properly and their performance suffered because of it. This year we were able to plan for the team in advance and implemented a few changes that should help get the team on the right track,” said Humbert. TRON looks forward to having more intense, but valuable, practices and scrimmages between the two “sides” to become stronger.
However, the elevation of the team’s performance was not completely showcased during the four tournaments in the fall season. Despite victories in the MIT Round Robin and the Brandeis B-Bash Tournament, TRON has fallen to some tough opponents, such as Bryant and Bentley University, and only ended up in fourth place in the Lobster Pot Tournament, which was swept by TRON last year with an 8-0 record. But according to Humbert, the teams weren’t at their best and were more concerned with improving themselves than winning the games. “We care more that players are learning to run to the right spaces and make the right throws rather than winning every game. Most of the tournaments we attended this fall, we split ourselves into two teams in order to maximize playing time for each player,” said Humbert. Giving players time to develop has proved to be the right decision according to Humbert, as the new talents on the team have been gaining a lot of useful experience. “Although our record is not as strong as it could be, I could not be happier with how this fall has gone,” said Humbert.
TRON looks to defeat tough opponents like Bryant University this season. Bryant has beaten TRON twice in two consecutive tournaments, the second a tough 4-15. “Recently Bryant has developed into our biggest rival. They have a solid core of players with strong chemistry that run their system effectively. On defense they run a very effective zone defense where they take advantage of their tall, long players to cover a lot of ground,” analyzed Humbert. “It would have been nice to come away with a couple of wins but we picked up a lot of valuable experience by playing such a strong team.” Last year, Bryant was the team that TRON rolled over twice in both Regionals and Nationals to attain the second place overall. Bryant will be looking for revenge this season in games against Brandeis.
But perhaps more important than rivalry is the closeness developed among the players. To Humbert, TRON is like a big family with a lot of friends being able to share joyful moments together. “Hanging out with the guys on the team is a blast no matter what we’re doing. Whether it is taking up a huge table at Sherman for lunch or dinner, car rides to tournaments, homework in the library or hanging out on weekends, those are going to be the things I remember down the road,” said Humbert. The team chemistry improves every practice, especially with new ideologies being implemented. Another captain, Elan Kane ’16, developed the idea of encouraging players to work on their throwing outside of practice by having partners to practice with, which has produced great results according to Humbert. The family dynamic has not stopped either, despite its increasing size. “It is awesome to see ultimate grow so quickly here at Brandeis and we hope for that to continue. Anybody can stop by a practice at any time and we will gladly accept them with open arms,” said Humbert.
With a big tournament ahead, this winter break certainly wasn’t an easy holiday for the men’s ultimate frisbee team. “Over winter break our coaches sent us all a workout routine to start getting us into shape. In addition to the running and throwing, we have practiced multiple times per week where our coaches help us work on our different offensive and defensive strategies,” said Humbert. The hard work has been paying off for the team, as Humbert sees the results he and other captains have been expecting. “People are running to the correct spaces, making the correct decisions, communicating with teammates on the field and staying focused. I would say the thing our team has improved on the most is the mental aspect of the game.” The team’s devotion to their sport will be tested this weekend as the first team will compete in a tournament at Williams college on Saturday, Jan. 16.