Atlanta experiences Ultimate Frisbee success over the summer of 2019


Twitter: @ATLiensYCC

HUDLE UP: Day two of the US Open Club Championship, the U20 boys ATLiens are preparing for their game against the Bay Area Red Dawn.

Cole Parker, Writer

During the summer of 2019, Atlanta sent four Ultimate Frisbee club teams to compete in Blaine, Minnesota, for a national title in their respective divisions at the US Open Club Championship.  The all-star teams that participated in the tournament were the U17 girls rATLers, U20 girls cATLanta, U17 boys ATLas, and the U20 boys ATLiens. Out of the four teams that competed, two teams succeeded at making it to the finals and becoming co-champions.  
The teams named co-champions in their division were the rATLers and the ATLiens.  Both teams practiced from June to August, giving their remarkable players an opportunity to develop team chemistry.
“My favorite parts about YCC were the scrimmages that took place at practice and, of course, the tournament in Minnesota,” said Malori Switzer, Grady sophomore and rATLer player.
rATLers (U17 Girls)
The rATLers team is made up of players coming from schools such as Grady, Lakeside, Decatur, Druid Hills, and a handful of other high schools in metro Atlanta.  Players on the team currently enrolled at Grady include Keely Baker, Malori Switzer, Avery Li, Haven Li, and Dana Richie.
“I always seem to have really good chemistry with handlers, which further explains why I felt a connection with players such as Quincy Booth, Malori Switzer, and Araina Ridley on the field,” said Keely Baker, Grady sophomore and rATLer player.  “However, I also felt that I had a strong relationship with Jude Blackmon who was a cutter and also my roommate during the tournament in Minnesota.”
On the first day of the tournament, the rATLers played against Belly of the Beast, a team located in San Francisco, California, who they beat 12-5.  In addition, they also wiped out Minnesota Superior, 15-2. Between these two games, Switzer had the most assists out of Grady players on the rATLers.
“Even though the scores were in our favor during the first two games of the tournament, they were difficult because we had never really played together as a team,” Switzer said.
In terms of success, the second day of the tournament for the rATLers was similar to the day before.  The rATLers came up on top in their first game against the Kitty Hawks, a team from North Carolina, winning 14-3.  Following this game, the rATLers played in the quarterfinals against the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance, where they won, 15-1.
“Our team used zone defense a lot because we are good at it and it worked when trying to mess up our opponents’ offenses,” Baker said.  “On offense, we would utilize deep hucks and dump swings in order to spread the disc around the field.”
The third day of the tournament began with a semifinal matchup of the rATLers versus D.C. Force.  Although D.C. Force broke the rATLers offensive and scored the first point of the game, the rATLers quickly came back and by halftime were leading 8-1.  The rATLers were working hard on both offense and defense, and plays were clicking. In the second half, the rATLers kept the lead and ended up winning 14-7.
“After D.C. Force scored the first point, we knew it was time to play hard,” Baker said.  “We wanted to make it to the finals so bad, and we were willing to play our hardest until we got the points we needed.”
In the championship game for the U17 division, the rATLers played the Seattle Blossom.  However, due to a mix of rain, hail, and lightning, the game’s start time was pushed back repeatedly.  When the game began, it played for an hour until lightning struck again, and the remainder of the round was canceled.  As a result, co-champion titles were given to the rATLers and Seattle Blossom.
“It is really an honor to be a part of the strong Ultimate Frisbee community in Atlanta, and I am so proud of my teammates and all the hard work we put in this season that allowed us to become champions,” Switzer said.
ATLiens (U20 Boys)
Only a few fields away, the ATLiens were playing with something to prove.  Two years ago, the ATLiens made the championship game of the tournament but lost.  This year’s team has one senior at Grady, Cole Chanler, and six recently graduated Grady alumni, including Aidan Downey, Robert Mobley, Adam Miller, Jacob Greenhill, Franky Fernandez, and Jaden Medley-Fowlkes.
“I do not think that the tryouts for the ATLiens were very difficult, however, making the team definitely was because there were so many skilled players trying out,” said Cole Chanler, Grady senior and ATLien player.
For the first game of the tournament, the ATLiens played against the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance who they beat 15-10.  Later in the day, they played against Texas United and won 14-9 in a game that embraced deep throws, quick cuts, and hard defense.  One of the more spectacular highlights was a give and go between two previous Grady Ultimate Frisbee players, Aidan Downey and Adam Miller.
“Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance and Texas United were both good teams, but because of our athleticism, we were able to beat them pretty easily,” Chanler said.
The ATLiens started the second day off with a game against the Bay Area Red Dawn, which they won 14-9.  The squad started the game off strong on offense and kept the lead by hustling on defense. Next, the ATLiens played in the quarterfinals against New Jersey DEVYL.  This game was a fast-paced, offensive battle where each team was scoring and there were rarely any breaks. However, in the end, the ATLiens were again on top, winning 13-12.
“We beat DEVYL by being patient with the disc and making smart decisions,” Chanler said.  “What did not work was forcing low-percentage throws.”
On day three, the ATLiens played Red Dawn again, but in the semi-finals this time.  Chanler dove through the air to make an amazing layout catch in the red zone, which then lead to a score on his next pass.  The ATLiens won, 13-10. In the finals against a familiar nemesis, Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance, the same weather problems affecting the girls U17 finals lead to several delays.  As the day came to an end without playable fields, both Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance and the ATLiens were crowned co-champions.
“Without a doubt, I think that we would have beaten Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance if the championship game was played out because we knew how their team played and we wanted to win more than them,” said Julian Shrader, ATLien player.

Twitter: @rATLersYCC
TEAM UP: The U17 girls rATLers pose for team picture at the US Open Club Championship after beating Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance. Following this game, the rATLers played in the semi-finals against D.C. Force.