After going undefeated at the D-III Women Metro East Regionals, the A-team for Vicious Circles (Vish), Wesleyan’s non-cis male Ultimate Frisbee team, has clinched a coveted spot at this year’s D-III Ultimate National Tournament. The tournament will be held in Obetz, Ohio from Saturday, May 20 until Monday, May 22, and will feature 16 teams from across the country in the women’s division. The Vish A-team is expected to bring 23 members to the national tournament.
The Vish A-team had set its eyes on nationals prior to the onset of the competitive season. The team earned their ticket to nationals after a hard-fought upset 8–7 against Ithaca College, who were leading by three points at the half in the final game of the Regionals tournament. The tournament, which took place in Saratoga Springs, NY on Sunday, April 30, concluded in a universe point—a match point called when two teams tie at the end of the allotted game time—which saw the Vish A-team finally achieving their goal of getting to nationals for the first time since 2019. For many members of the team, this accomplishment represents a new era.
“We’re all stepping into a very historical moment in Vish’s history,” Chloe Pacetti ’26 said. “We haven’t been to nationals in four years, so it’s weird to be getting introduced to Vish [now], but also Vish being introduced to this new higher level of commitment and competitiveness, so that’s all really exciting.”
Vish A-team Captain Adina Chasan-Taber ’23 added that going to nationals represents a significant moment in time for the team, particularly for current and future members.
“Having this huge comeback means a lot for the program,” Chasan-Taber said. “It means a lot for people who are joining it and who are looking for this environment. Showing that we’re real contenders and that we’re hardworking is appealing for people who played frisbee in high school and want somewhere that they’re really gonna get to play, especially when you’re looking at D-III schools.”
Many members of the Vish A-team described their elation following the recent news, citing the team’s growth and adaptation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a testament to their strengths.
“I’m really excited and it feels surreal right now,” Vish A-team Captain Tenley Abbott ’23 said. “I don’t think it’s really hit that we’re going to nationals just because we’ve talked about it as more of an abstract thing over the course of our time at Wesleyan, but I think that this is a product of working the past two years since COVID-19. We’ve really been rebuilding the team and rebuilding A specifically competitiveness-wise.”
The COVID-19 pandemic brought numerous challenges to Wesleyan’s frisbee community, particularly with onboarding and participation. Although she joined Vish in the fall, after many of the University’s pandemic safety measures had been rolled back, Kayla Harrison ’26 is well aware of how the pandemic impacted the team.
“I’ve talked to older members of the team and people who have been around the Wesleyan frisbee community for longer, and I know that COVID-19 definitely really hurt Vish participation and also frisbee experience because we weren’t able to continuously replenish the skills in a certain way, so I think that this was also really important that we did this this year because this is the last year that we have anyone who knows what the school was like pre-COVID-19,” Harrison said.
Vish A-team includes students from every class year. To Abbott, this makes the process of reinventing the team that much easier, bolstering the competitive season.
“Having such a big underclassmen pool, especially the sophomores, is why last year was more of a building year, but now that everyone has a year on Vish under their belt, this year we’re confident in the skills that we have, now how can we use them to get to where we want to go,” Abbott said.
The team’s depth was not only a means for rebuilding but also a very important component of their play on the field. Relative to other competitive frisbee teams, the Vish A-team is large and full of capable players, directly relating to the team’s drive and work ethic.
“The depth of our team, especially when we were playing other teams these past couple weekends, has really stood out to us,” Buy-in translates directly to skill and fitness, and our team is really deep,” Adina Chasan-Taber ’23 said. “We have a lot of talented people and we’re really lucky that we have so many lines of people we could put on that are all really strong.”
In addition to this buy-in, Harrison cited the Vish A-team Captains as key motivators and catalysts for re-establishing team dynamics and success.
“I think our captains also did an incredible job of kind of instilling that previous Vish spirit in us and now that we’re actually bringing it all the way to nationals, I think that this trend is going to continue for years to come,” Harrison said.
Many members of the team emphasized that much of the team’s successes stemmed from the captains, who wore multiple hats throughout the season.
“Our captains are some of our best players: they’re captains, they’re coaches, and they’re designing our entire routine and workout,” Leza Rooks ’26 said. “Every single thing that we’ve done, every single play that we’ve learned has all been designed and run and taught by them, and I don’t know how they do it and they’re so good at it. I think it’s what allowed our team to come together…. They’re really, really impressive people.
While the captains played a major role in bolstering the Vish A-team this season, many of the team’s goals are based on collaboration and mutual leadership. To Captain Margaret Heffernan ’24, these ideals permeated throughout the team and improved comradery.
“I feel like Vish has become its own family on the field and on campus…I’ve really noticed that everyone is super accepting of everyone else on the team and we really try to emphasize the idea that anyone can be a leader and that people can give feedback to each other and help each other out,” Heffernan said. “I think that everyone really took that to heart this season and people want to step up and they want to help us on this road to nationals. I never feel like I’m burdening someone when I ask them to do something because I know that they genuinely care and that they genuinely want to help us.”
While that community of care and collaboration is apparent throughout the team, there is still an athletic element that is indicative of frisbee culture more broadly.
“What’s so special about Ultimate and what has always drawn me to the sport is [that] it is very much the social and the athletic coming together,” Pacetti said. “Everyone’s been able to dial in, everyone’s super dedicated and wants to get better, but it’s also that the on-field chemistry is so good, and I think that just comes from how much everyone cares about each other off the field.”
In Fall 2021, Vish lost a bid for nationals to the University of Rochester and Vassar, and the spring semester season similarly ended abruptly when, after a great couple of games at the Sectionals tournament in New Jersey, the Vish A-team could not play their consolation games after the opposing team failed to show up. The team’s leaders used the summer to set goals, discuss action steps, and generate expectations for the next year.
After a solid fall 2022 semester where new members of the team started to become accustomed to the Vish A-team. During the winter, A-team members participated in strength workouts for the following season, continuing these workouts throughout the spring with weekly workouts and pods.
As the A-team began participating in tournaments this semester, they started winning their games, boosting their confidence. Ultimately, the Vish A-team entered Sectionals from Saturday, April 15 until Sunday, April 16 in Fort Ann, NY, and went undefeated 6–0, cementing their spots in the Regionals tournament. The team continued this success throughout the Regionals tournament. For Nora Jacobsen ’25, much of this accomplishment has come from maintaining fun, competitive play among all team members.
“Something about Frisbee that is awesome in many ways is [that it] is self-refereed and it is this culture of fun, but something that we were talking about at the beginning of the year is that for a lot of people on the team, playing a really hard fought game that’s competitive with a goal of winning is really fun,” Jacobsen said. “There is this culture of having fun this year, but it’s okay to be competitive. We want to be competitive and we all came with that energy and it felt like that was kind of a new side for Vish.”
Jacobsen underscored how extreme the team’s growth has been, emphasizing how dynamic and goal-driven the team has been over the course of the competitive season.
“[I feel] thrilled,” Jacobsen said. “We lost every single game of [last year’s] regionals by five points or over, and it’s been so transformative this year versus last year. We all wanted it so badly and we haven’t gone to nationals very many times, and it feels like this has been our goal for all year.”
Other members of the team emphasized the importance of this spirit and shared that it has only improved as the season continued.
“You could just feel this really infectious energy, and I think that’s just become amplified throughout the season and everyone has just become so committed to getting better and working together and supporting each other and has fallen in love with Frisbee, which been so fun to see because that’s all I wanted outta this year,” Maggie Brown ’26 said. “The fact that we are going to nationals is an amazing moment.”
However, the team’s success stems more from the energy that has been cultivated over the course of the season. The Vish A-team Captains have been strategic about weekly practices, using each week as an opportunity to hone specific skills common in the sport. This approach allowed them to map out the semester prior to the start of the competitive season, scaffolding the season strategically in the process.
“Something we said at the beginning of the season was that we wanted to make it to nationals, that’s our ultimate goal, but our process-based goals are what we want to learn these systems and we think that if we have those really down, we will be able to make it to nationals,” Chasan-Taber said. “If we don’t make it to nationals, we’ve achieved those goals, and we will be happy with our season. We had our system goals and we had solid focuses. It wasn’t just nationals, nationals, nationals.”
Ultimately, these practice plans, workouts, and drills have instilled a consistent intensity that has enriched the team’s season and has been a key part of their success for Natalie Sweet ’25.
“You can see the intensity on the sidelines, the intensity at practices, seeing how every Monday we have a 30-minute workout that’s just sometimes really intense, but seeing everyone put their all into it because we just want to become this whole so badly,” Sweet said. “At the end of the day, I don’t really think it’s about winning or the stats, it’s about the amount of effort that we all collectively put in.”
Moving forward, the team has been tasked with handling logistics as they prepare to fly to Ohio after the academic semester concludes. On the field, Chasan-Taber emphasized the importance of maintaining many of the skills that the team has acquired throughout the semester.
“We’ve achieved our system goals and right now it’s about keeping them in check, improving them as much as possible, making the little tweaks we need and just getting more touches on the disc because there’s no big changes we can make right now,” Chasan-Taber said. “We have systems that work really well, let’s make them work even better.”
Off the field, the team has been working on booking flights, finalizing accommodations, setting budgets, and hammering out details. With the tournament itself costing $85 per player, the team has started a GoFundMe page to fundraise for their nationals trip. In addition, the quick turnaround between finalizing their bid to nationals after regionals and the actual trip adds more stress to the logistical planning. Nonetheless, the players see this task as a means to bolster an already strong team dynamic.
“Even though I think it feels scary and daunting with all these logistics, the biggest feeling of joy is just how nationals feels to us, and it’s really awesome to see everyone putting in the work,” Sweet said. “We’ve had some players create the GoFundMe and others create thank you postcards, and it’s just a lot of people have taken on a lot of work.”
While the team continues to finalize logistics, many members have expressed contentment with already achieving their goal of getting to nationals in the first place.
“When we think about future years, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but I do think that for me, there’s definitely a feeling that this goal has been satisfied,” Mack Bunnell ’26 said. “It’s not a big deal if we don’t go to nationals next year or the year after that, but it would be really nice to go and give other people the same experience that we’ve had. I think it’s really just gonna be about remembering what we learned and teaching it to other people. It feels like now there’s this formula for success and just carrying that on.”
Many first-years on the team are excited about the future of Vish and the impending passing of the torch.
“I’m super confident and excited for the future and I’m just excited to bring people into a community that I felt so welcomed into as a freshman, that helped me find my place at Wesleyan, and I think passing that on and sharing that and bringing in new people would be really special and rewarding,” Brown said.
However, that process will only take shape after the Vish A-team concludes its time at nationals.
“Having this reputation and having this huge comeback means a lot for the program,” Chasan-Taber said. “It means a lot for people who are joining it and who are looking for this environment. Showing that we’re real contenders and that we’re hardworking is appealing for people who played Frisbee in High School and want somewhere that they’re really gonna get to play, especially when you’re looking at D-III schools.”
Until then, members of the Vish A-team are looking forward to their time at nationals. After a tremendous amount of hard work to cultivate a fun-loving, competitive, pride-filled, and successful season, the team is beyond excited to represent Wesleyan at the national level.
“When we go to nationals, we are representing Wesleyan on the national stage, and they should take that as a compliment,” Heffernan said. “We are representing this higher education institution and we’re all smarty pants and we also happen to play Frisbee. I think that’s awesome.”
If you would like to financially support the Vish A-team as they prepare for nationals, you can donate to this GoFundMe.
Oliver Cope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.