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Monday, December 11, 2023
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The Ultimate Green Eggs and Ham

"Sam, Sam, Sam I am," shouts a huddle of young men who call themselves Green Eggs and Ham. No, they're not a part of the Dr. Seuss book club; they're the UB Ultimate Frisbee team.

Although the phrase the team chants before each game is from a children's book, ultimate frisbee is a sport that requires an immense amount of physical training and competition.

But three years ago, this competitive mentality would not have taken form if not for the leaderships of now alumnus Zack ‘Trainwreck' Smith and Bryan ‘Mama Bear' Jones. The two took over and transformed the team. Under Smith and Jones, the team began to condition three times a week, and entered into more competitive tournaments.

"They revolutionized the team and taught [us] how to compete at a higher level. They led the team to want more," said Jon ‘BAYNE' Bain, captain of the men's team and senior biological sciences major.

Bain joined the team as a freshman. Now, as team captain, he continues the traditions set in place by Smith and Jones. Green, Eggs, and Ham has been sculpted into a respectable team with a name of unknown origin that has been carried by the team since the mid 1980s.

"When people think of frisbee, they think of the typical hippie standing around a field throwing," said Ben ‘Smiles' McPherson, president of the UB Ultimate Frisbee team and a senior environmental engineering major. "But in reality, it's a lot of running. It's more like soccer and basketball in that regard."

The team practices in the field beside the Governor's parking lot when the weather is nice, and goes to Alumni Arena in the winter. The members spend approximately 15 hours a week training and conditioning by lifting weights in small groups and running in large groups.

They travel for tournaments and spend full weekends together. The extended amount of time that the team members share allows them to solidify their family bond.

"We've become, in a sense, a brotherhood that you see in some fraternities because we spend so much time together," McPherson said.

The women's Ultimate Frisbee team returned to UB in 2010, just three years ago after fading away for a short period of time. The new team is called The Lorax, another name that originates from a Dr. Seuss book.

"When they made the [previous women's] team…they were all the same age," said Jessie ‘Hummer' Chiello, a captain of the women's team and senior biological sciences major. "When they all graduated, the whole team left."

Chiello had played with the men's team in the fall of 2009, but started up the women's team in the following spring.

"I really wanted to play more. So we made the team," Chiello said.

With both teams rejuvenated with a new attitude, results began to show. The women's team is off to a hot start as they are undefeated with 15 wins this year. They won FrizFest and the Theodore Seuss Geisel Memorial Frisbee Tournament. Last year, the team also went to regionals in the U.S. Ultimate, a nationwide tournament.

"I like how the team has grown in the past years," Bain said. "When I came as a freshman, this was somewhat of a joke. It wasn't as tight knit. People didn't work hard in practices, but now we really brought the team around. We work hard every day."

With competitiveness pumping through their veins, the men's team has an ongoing rivalry with Syracuse University. Two years ago, UB had a major victory when they defeated their rival and won the bid for regionals.

"Kids on Syracuse broke down and cried, because that's how attached they were to the game," said Mitchell ‘Girl Scout' Wheeler, a team member and senior mechanical engineer major.

Today, there are three teams within the UB Ultimate Frisbee family. The women's team, The Lorax, with 25 members, and two men's teams, Green Eggs and Ham and The Expendables, each with 20 members.

"We're always looking to grow," McPherson said. "When I started we only had one team with around 20 guys."

This year the team received $4,600 from the Student Association (SA). This is $1,000 more than last year. Due to the amount of community service and SA events that the team attends, the SA decided to give the team more money.

Each fall, the team hosts a major fundraiser that brings them approximately $5,000. They host a tournament in which 32 other men's teams and 12 other women's teams participate.

There are around 15 rookies currently on the team, and each year the team attends freshmen orientation to recruit members.

"It's not uncommon to have 90 or 100 members at our first couple of practices, but after a while it dies down," McPherson said.

Behind the aggressive nature of tournaments, playing against other schools is a pleasure. The entire ultimate frisbee community is accepting and welcoming off the field.

"[When] we go to a tournament four hours away, we don't have to pay for hotels," Wheeler said. "Someone will put you up."

Other schools provide the team with housing and support.

"The thing I love about ultimate is there's this thing called the ‘spirit of the game' where people respect other players," Bain said. "They [are] responsible [for their actions]. It's grown up but I can still be as competitive as I want to be."

Additional reporting by Keren Baruch




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