Seamen become staple of UNCW sports scene

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Seamen become staple of UNCW sports scene

The Seamen have grown in popularity on campus with their recent success

The Seamen have grown in popularity on campus with their recent success

The Seamen have grown in popularity on campus with their recent success

The Seamen have grown in popularity on campus with their recent success

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

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For the past few years, there has been a sports team on UNC Wilmington’s campus creating some buzz by winning awards and gaining national exposure.

And it’s not the one you may be thinking of.

UNCW’s male Ultimate team, the Seamen, has become one of the most popular sports clubs on campus, and for good reason.

The Seamen have made a name for themselves, not just on a regional scale, but nationally in recent seasons, advancing all the way to the USA Ultimate National Semifinals last season which were broadcasted on ESPN3 and ESPNU.

This year, with a huge spike in prospective members trying out for the team, veteran players are excited to see that the club has turned the corner on campus. But it hasn’t been easy.

“The team has changed dramatically,” said captain Charlie Lian. “First off, my freshman year was the first year we started the B team. It consisted of nine students and our A team only had around 24. Now we had more than 75 players tryout for the team. And now we have 27 students on the A team, and the B team has around 20 students. Also we have many students send the team emails before they come to the school and say they are excited to tryout for our ultimate frisbee team.”

Lian, now a senior, has had a first-hand view at the club’s growth in recent years. That growth has in turn led to more success for the team, as well.

After being a national title contender for the greater part of the 90s, and winning the national championship in 1993, the Seamen hit a bit of a lull with the turn of the century.

That has changed quickly, however, with last year’s trip to the D-I College Championships marking the club’s second visit in a row, and third in five years.

After finishing tied for fifth in 2013, the team was able to advance to this year’s semifinals in Mason, Ohio before falling to national runner-up UNC Darkside 15-10.

The recent resurgence of the team has also created a renewed interest in the sport throughout campus.

“I’ve never been on a team where everyone really bought into the system,” said club member Erik Esposto. “For the Seamen, everyone really buys in and really wants to work for each other to do a good job. When we were going to nationals, at the end of May, we had about a month between school and nationals. We stayed here and trained the whole time, almost every day. Everybody just gave everything they got. They stopped their work schedules, focused just on Ultimate, and worked so hard every day at practice… People were willing to put everything into it. For each other, for the team, for themselves, to really grow as a program.”

The growing interest in UNCW Ultimate is a microcosm of the sports popularity throughout the country.

Over 12,000 student athletes compete on 700 college ultimate teams in North America. Additionally, many high schools, including Hoggard, have begun ultimate programs.

The team competed in three tournaments during the fall season in preparation for the upcoming spring portion.

Separated into two teams, UNCW Y and UNCW X, the team first traveled to the Bank Run in Charlotte. UNCW Y advanced to the semifinals before falling to UNC, while UNCW X fell in the finals to the same UNC squad.

At the Wolfpack Invite in Raleigh, UNCW X finished sixth, while UNCW Y advanced to the semifinals.

The tournaments were used as a measuring stick for the team before they deployed their A squad at the Fall Easterns, which took place on UNCW’s campus Nov. 15-16. The Seamen finished third in the tournament, once again dropping to UNC 14-11.

Now gearing up for their spring season, with the Carolina Kickoff in Chapel Hill on Jan. 24th  and 25th  marking the beginning, the Seamen are looking forward to keeping their high level of performance.

With the team’s popularity continuing to soar, people are always encouraged to go out and give the sport of Ultimate a try.

“If you are looking to be part of something big come join ultimate frisbee club team,” Lian said. “Whether you want to play the sport competitively and play on ESPN or just play for fun, this club sport is for you. Come check it out and give the sport a chance, you will grow to like it and you won’t regret it.”