Now that fall is underway, it’s time for the the Trojan faithful to gear up and get their sports on. But lost amid all the (justified) hoopla over the USC football team, the buzz surrounding the untested men’s basketball team and articles covering the expected and continued dominance of both the men’s and women’s water polo squads is one team of Trojans that gets results without any national press coverage: the women’s ultimate frisbee team.
Ultimate frisbee, a competitive team sport combining elements of football, basketball and soccer, is a club sport at USC. The women’s team — known as the Hellions of Troy — competes and trains on its own time, with little school funding and no athletic scholarship money. But despite being a relatively young program — the team was founded just six years ago, in the fall of 2003 — the Hellions have already proven themselves to be one of the best college ultimate frisbee teams in the nation.
Last year, the Hellions posted a 27-18 regular-season record en route to their first-ever berth at the invitation-only national championship tournament in Columbus, Ohio. With wins over traditional athletic powerhouses such as Arizona, Illinois, Colorado and Michigan State, the Hellions made a mark for themselves around the country — but they are still forced to work hard to recruit new players for this year’s team.
“Recruitment is always an issue,” said Recruitment Chair Lauren Eng. “We’re running an intramural league right now to introduce new players to the game, and we’re going to start holding open practices next month.
“Anyone can come out — most people come to [play] frisbee never even having played before college.”
While the majority of players were former athletes in high school — soccer and track and field are the most highly represented former sports among members of both the women’s team and its male counterpart, the Ghettobirds — many players come to ultimate simply to meet new people and enjoy the social aspects of the club. Whatever their reasons for joining, most Trojans who start playing ultimate soon find themselves hooked.
“It’s really great,” said senior Lindsey Cross. “You go out there to practices and to tournaments, and the people on the team end up becoming some of your best friends.”
The team practices twice a week in the fall and spring, and travels to about 10 weekend tournaments each year. Though it’s not guaranteed, the Hellions have their sights on a return to the national championships this coming spring.
“We graduated a lot of people, but we have a lot of talent coming back as well,” Cross said. “The rookies who’ve shown up already look very solid, and we’re always looking for more players.”