An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Midtown ultimate players support National Championship win

Sophomore+Natalie+Johnson+lunges+across+the+sideline+to+complete+a+catch.
Mary Johnson
Sophomore Natalie Johnson lunges across the sideline to complete a catch.

The U17 rATLers girls, Atlanta’s own ultimate frisbee Youth Club Championship (YCC) team, brought home a national title this past weekend at the 2023 U.S. Open Championships in Aurora, Colorado. This title winning team consists of some of Midtown’s very own ultimate frisbee players.

The rATLers are coached by Hayley Cotton, the JV ultimate frisbee team at Midtown. She has been coaching since 2019 and played ultimate frisbee throughout and after college. She has coached at Midtown for three years and the YCC team for two years.

“I didn’t even know about YCC when I began coaching,” Cotton said. “I was just looking for small ways I could be involved in youth ultimate in Atlanta. I have already been passionate about girls sports and just wanted to help expand girls’ access to ultimate.” 

Sophomore Natalie Johnson has been playing ultimate frisbee since 6th grade and is on both the Midtown girls teams and the rATLers. She says that having Cotton as a coach greatly contributed to the national win. 

“Her being the coach for both teams made it an easy transition,” Johnson said. “We knew each other’s skills and strong suits, so we would know who would throw it long and catch it, even if you didn’t throw it right to them.”

Ultimate requires unique skills, such as throwing and catching, but Cotton believes that the girls’ sportsmanship is what led them to become national champions.

“Ultimate’s number one skill is spirit of the game,” Cotton said. “Spirit of the game means to be kind, even in competition; to play fair, to encourage your teammates, and to even be encouraging your opponents. It’s a facet of sport that is unique to ultimate. I try to teach my players to be good at the sport, great to their opponents, but most of all, to be amazing and encouraging teammates.” 

Sophomore Ryan Butler enjoys the sport because it’s fun, non-contact elements. She was surprised by the win and believes that Cotton drove success for the team. 

“They were saying that the schools from the other states were really good, so I was [nervous],” Butler said. “I definitely think coach Hayley really helped out with some skills and really helped make us national winners.”

Johnson first joined ultimate with the intention of playing a random sport, but has since found what ultimate frisbee offers. She is happy about the rATLers national win and thinks of it as a comeback from last year.

“Ultimate is a good community,” Johnson said. “It’s supportive, and everyone is really nice. You can make friends, and it’s just fun to play. It feels nice to be national champions because we came in third last year, which was kind of underwhelming, but it was nice to come back and win.”

Sophomore Penelope Keenan expresses gratitude for her coaches and team, ecstatic about the  national championship win.

“I was really impressed with our win at nationals,” Keenan said. “We worked really hard, and to see all that work pay off was amazing. The bond we had from the Midtown team was definitely helpful, and I really think that helped us win. Our team overall was great as well, we had a strong connection on and off the field. The win feels great, and I’m so excited for next season.”

The national championship win has left spirits high among the players and is said to have set the standard for a great school season.

“Each year I have one main goal: to try and do a little better than last year,” Cotton said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am very excited to see how this upcoming season goes. We have some amazing players on our team, so I’d definitely keep a watch on Midtown Ultimate in the spring; I’m sure we will do great things!”

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Julia Barton, Writer
Julia Barton is a sophomore and this is her first year writing for the Southerner. She enjoys volleyball and hanging out with her friends. She is excited to write for the Southerner this year.

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