By Xander Knock, Head Coach
It was a wonderful and exciting inaugural competitive season for the Rowland Hall ultimate frisbee, or ultimate, team this year. The Winged Lions faced an uphill battle entering a sport with a strong established foothold in the state of Utah, which has multiple teams from the state in the top 10 of high school teams nationwide.
Only two players on the team had any experience with competitive ultimate prior to this season. We faced a wide range of competition in Division 2 (D2), facing up against fairly new squads and also against more established programs of players who had been playing together for multiple years. Though we were green, the players quickly picked up on the fundamentals of the game and honed their skills through practice, and improved vastly from the beginning of the season to the state tournament in the spring. We finished 4-6 overall in league play and, through the season, had some games where we cruised through the game without many issues, hard-fought wins on double game point, and other games where we were humbled by more experienced teams and lost by many points. Through all of these different emotional highs and lows the team always stayed unified and let the losses motivate rather than discourage them.
At the state tournament, we finished 14 out of 21 teams in D2. We defeated a team that we had lost to a month earlier in league play and performed far better against teams that had made short work of us at the beginning of the season.
Team members included Raffay Ahmed, Omar Alsolaiman, Raphael Andreae, Tofiq Aziz, Brady Eckrote, Aiden Gandhi, James Gooder, Isaac Granger, Peter Hobson Rohrer, Max Jansen, Tyler Lehman, Leo Martin, Will Novak, Lorenzo Rust, Evan Weinstein, River Yeates, Nyiou Younten, and Rodrigo Zendajas-Portugal.
At our end-of-season team celebration, we recognized the following players with awards: Max Jansen, Most Valuable Player; Rodrigo Zendajas-Portugal, Most Improved; and Aiden Gandhi, Coaches’ Award.
Assistant Coach Joel Long and I are so incredibly proud of how much these players were able to improve in our short time together—the future of ultimate at Rowland Hall is bright!