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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.


Published: November 19, 2010
Section: Features

Any Brandeis student walking by Chapels’ Field on a given afternoon might bear witness to a group of men running drills and practicing rigorously. Assuming that there are no brooms between the legs of players, chances are that these athletes are the members of TRON, Brandeis’ men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, working hard to prepare for their national tournament at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

As they prepare for their final tournament, TRON’s practices are intense to say the least. Team member Josh Mandell ’11 says that a typical practice is two to three hours long. “We start with about 15 minutes of throwing around, followed by warming up and stretching for the next 20 minutes. Then we will go into drills followed by scrimmaging against each other. Lastly, we finish with conditioning and sprinting.”

The hardworking men of TRON practice four times per week, but their team bonding doesn’t end on Chapels’ Field.

TRON functions as much as a family as it does a team.

According to Mandell, members “try to have lots of team bonding, such as our team movie night at the beginning of the semester where we give our rookies their nicknames. We also like to go to the dining halls together and eat as a team. At the end of each semester we have banquets where we give out semester awards.”

All of this team bonding seems to do its job. This is demonstrated by one of the TRON’s captains; Brian Dahlben ’12 report that “after two or three years of playing together as a unit, the members of TRON have become very close. Most members live with someone else on the team, and we do hang out with one another.”

Mandell echoes this sentiment, saying that “we play as a team, but off the field, TRON has become my group of friends. We hang out together when we’re not playing because these guys have become some of my best friends over the past three years.”

TRON also has a number of new members this year, one of which is Jonathan Epstein ’14. Epstein describes his relationship with older members of TRON—otherwise known as veterans—as “organic.”

He says that team members “all love throwing discs around and having a good time. We all possess that carefree, almost naive, boyish attitude towards life, at least when we’re on the grass or turf.” When Epstein sees other team members, outside of TRON events, he says that they make “intense eye contact and bask in [their] bond.”

TRON has had a ground-breakingly successful season. Up next on the team’s radar is nationals. Dahlben is excited, saying, “qualifying for Nationals is a validation of all our hard work this semester and over the last few years. The team has improved and built a solid foundation over that time, and we now have to opportunity to put Brandeis on the ultimate map.”

Team member Justin Serio ‘11 said that he is “feeling really positive about Nationals,” saying that the “team is definitely at the same level as the top teams at the tournament.” These other teams in the tournament include Dartmouth University, the University of Pittsburgh, James Madison University, The University of Virginia, The University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech University and the University of Connecticut.

All of these teams are formidable opponents, but Serio is confident in TRON’s abilities. “When we are in tune with each other on the field we are very dangerous both offensively and defensively. Our toughest games will most likely be Pitt and Virginia but we were able to beat out some highly ranked teams at the qualifying tournament, like Harvard and Brown, so I think these games will be extremely close.”

Gabe Colton ’13 believes that Nationals will undoubtedly be “the toughest test of our season … There are definitely some good teams, especially Pittsburgh, the USA Ultimate national semi-finalists. I think we can play with a lot of these teams and I think we sometimes surprise ourselves with how well we play.”

No matter what happens at nationals, it is important to recognize the incredible accomplishments of TRON. Serio summed it up best when he said “this is a big deal for a lot of the guys; we’ve never qualified for a national level tournament in our clubs history. I think that’ll be motivation enough to show what we’re capable of and possibly contest winning the whole thing.”