Ultimate Frisbee team has its eyes on the prize


Senior Grant Manley winds up to throw the frisbee during a practice on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

Catching a Frisbee has never been this intense.

To be a member of the Chico State ultimate Frisbee club team, each player must be precise from a flick of the wrist, to the stamina of sprinting for minutes on end.

Senior Jessep McFarlane reaches out to snatch the frisbee out of the air during a practice on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie


The group started the year strong by winning their first qualifying tournament of the season in San Luis Obispo. This win catapults the team into a high competition tournament in San Diego, Feb. 13-15.

Last year the team defeated Stanford University, the most successful club team in Northern California, in its sectional championship game.

Austin Barden, a fifth-year senior captain, says he looks forward to facing Stanford again for another high intensity match.

“I’d say they’re a rival for us. We’ve heard they’ve been absolutely killing it this year,” Barden said. “It will be cool to see how far we’ve come since then.”

Sophomore Tommy Allen looks for an open teammate during practice on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie


This season there are nine newcomers to the official roster of 18.

Being a part of a predominantly young team, players have big shoes to fill from last year’s graduates. Picking up the skills quickly and efficiently is vital to the team’s success.

“The younger guys have really stepped up to take over the spots of the players we lost from last year,” said Grant Manley, a fifth-year senior.

The team’s energy and skill are to thank for its past successes. Compared to other teams that rely on limited technical skill, this team focuses on molding players into well-rounded and athletic competitors.

Chico State displays its strength in running an aggressive offense by sending its players deep, trusting their speed and agility to win the battle.

“We like to rely on our speed and athleticism to score in the end zone,” Barden said.

Senior Tyler Grenier leaps in the air to snag a frisbee during a practice on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie


Last year the team came up one game short of the regional tournament championship, losing to the University of Santa Barbara, the best known ultimate Frisbee club program in Southern California.

Barden says the game was long and rough, ending a few points away from their goal to go to the ultimate Frisbee nationals.

Striving for a spot at the national tournament once more, leadership from Barden and Manley will play a significant role in the team’s future success.

Manley says they both like to lead by example. These two balance holding their teammates to highly competitive standards while maintaining respect for the game.

Senior Jessep McFarlane passes to a teammate during a practice on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie


This daring duo is motivated by positivity and a passion for the game.

“I make sure everyone follows the spirit of the game” Barden said. “That’s the No. 1 rule in ultimate Frisbee, having spirit and good sportsmanship.”

Anna Baytosh can be reached at [email protected] or @anna_baytosh on Twitter.