Atlanta dominates in national ultimate frisbee tournament


Courtesy of Rob Vanni

On the first day of the 2021 Youth Club Championships, senior Scott Whitley secures the disc in a pool-play game against Oregon Rapids, who Atlanta flATLine beat 15-8.

Cole Parker

Atlanta flATLine, a U-20 coed ultimate frisbee team, recently traveled to Blaine, Minn., where it finished second in the 2021 Youth Club Championships (YCC).

The team held tryouts at the start of summer break, and players from all over Atlanta came to show off their skills. Senior Scott Whitley said his work ethic and experience earned him a spot on the team.

“I try to give 110 percent and leave everything on the field,” Whitley said. “In fact, the coach told me after the season ended that I was similar to a professional player he used to coach.”

All of the players on flATLine also played on either Atlanta cATLanta (U-20 girls) or Atlanta ATLiens (U-20 boys). Intending not to overwork its players, flATLine practiced only once a week to learn its offensive and defensive progressions as well as develop team chemistry.

“To make the most of each practice, we would get all the information we needed for the day and work on one thing at a time, making sure we got it down as quickly as possible and to a tee,” Whitley said. “We would also have team dinners afterward to communicate with each other and learn our personalities.”

Despite the intensity and focus the players brought to each practice, the limited amount of time they had together had its drawbacks.

“Players who hadn’t played together before didn’t have as much of an opportunity to learn each other and how to work together,” head coach Martin Aguilera said.

Because YCC is notoriously difficult to seed due to players aging out, Aguilera said he was unsure of how well the team would do.

“I knew we could do pretty well, but I didn’t have a sense of how good the other teams were going to be,” Aguilera said.

On the first and second days of the tournament, flATLine won all four of its pool-play games, defeating Minnesota Superior 15-6, Oregon Rapids 15-8, Northwest Arkansas White Tails 13-7 and Chicago Hypnosis 15-4.

“At first, a lot of the teams looked menacing because we didn’t have a lot of height, but most of the teams we played didn’t take advantage of their girls,” Whitley said. “We were able to use everyone, not just the male players but the female players, too.”

On the third day, in the semifinals, flATLine faced Dallas Skyline, a well-rounded, athletic opponent, who was unlike any of the other teams flATLine had already played. Regardless, flATLine won 15-11.

“We watched [Skyline] mop the floor with a team we had already played,” Whitley said. “We knew they were going to be a really fast team; we knew they were going to use their girls, and we knew they had height.”

After beating Skyline, flATLine competed in the finals against Lexington Pi+, a team who, similar to flATLine, had won all of its pool-play games and its semifinals matchup by a large margin.

“We were confident we were going to play our own game, but we knew [Pi+] was going to be a big challenge,” alumnus Benton Shevlin said.

At halftime, flATLine was down 8-2, rattled by Pi+’s impenetrable zone defense.

“They had one of the best zones I’ve ever seen,” Shevlin said. “You could tell they were a well-oiled machine, and they could really limit our disc movement. We hadn’t really been challenged the entire tournament until then.”

Aguilera also cited Pi+’s zone defense as a cornerstone of the team’s dominance on the field.

“When you play an opponent with a really effective defense, it’s a problem that perpetuates itself because they get to continue using it,” Aguilera said.

Going into the second half, the team’s mindset — win or lose — was to finish strong.

“We were still going to fight,” Shevlin said. “At that point, it was just about getting better at frisbee.”

Although flATLine lost 12-2 to Pi+ in the finals, Shelvin said he is proud the team made it so far.

“I’m more than satisfied,” Shevlin said. “I had no idea how good flATLine was going to be. It was definitely a very fun experience and one I will never forget.”