What comes to mind when you hear “Black Tide”? No, it’s not the newest form of bubonic plague or the West Nile virus.
Black Tide is the name of the UCSB men’s ultimate Frisbee club team.
The team is looking to reform and regroup after last year’s disappointing eighth-place national finish, mostly because of the ending of the consortium between UCSB and SBCC by the Ultimate Players Association. The consortium allowed students from SBCC to legally play for the Gauchos since they did not have a team themselves, however, the UPA ended this agreement, last year, right before the playoffs.
Even with the loss of some pivotal players last year, this season’s veterans have to rely on the depth and athleticism of their young squad.
“I’m really looking forward to watching all the younger guys improve through the season,” senior co-captain Taylor Cascino said. “They may lack experience, but we have a lot of good young athletes.”
However, after the loss in the quarterfinals of the Santa Barbara Invitational tournament to UC San Diego on Jan. 25-26, the team looks forward to a more successful showing in San Diego over Presidents’ Day weekend. The Gauchos hope that a little experience under some of the rookies’ belts will boost the level of play for the entire team.
“Our team is really deep and well-rounded,” senior veteran player Mike Brown said. “Our team goals are high. We hope to win [at Nationals].”
With six national championship titles already in the trophy room, the hope to win this year is not as far-sighted as it seems. In a sport like ultimate Frisbee, the Gauchos have always been in contention for the top spot.
“Every year we have a chance to win,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t like the sport as much if our goal was just to go out and do our best, and not win.”
Only seven more tournaments stand between them and the national championships at the end of May, but nothing can assure them a berth to Nationals. The team hopes that their hard work and determination will help them win a few tournaments and launch them into the playoffs.
“I’m really looking forward to improving in the first half of the season, and then crushing the other teams, come sectionals and beyond,” senior co-captain Ian Ranahan said. “It’s still early in the season, we’ve got time to improve as a whole.”
While the team is fighting off the other teams, they are also fighting some pretty big misconceptions about their sport. Maybe people have been watching the movie “PCU” on Comedy Central too often, but no dogs are members of the team. Oh, and this team is definitely not a bunch of laid-back stoners. The members of the team are as fierce as they come in any athletic competition where you call your own fouls, run down a 70-yard field and catch a Frisbee in the air while jumping over three opponents.
“Sometimes there is a lot of yelling at practices,” Ranahan said. “Practices are a lot more intense than you would think.”
The team hopes this intensity will mold them into a winning force three weeks from now when they face some of the toughest competition in the country, including Stanford and Colorado.