Athletic Dept. To Substitute Cluster Sport

Last spring, the Physical Education Department and the Athletic Council made a joint decision to change the Spring term cluster sport. Rather than offer Softball, as in the past, Cluster athletes will instead partake in Ultimate Frisbee this spring. Ultimate Frisbee is more physically challenging than Softball, and the school hopes it will provide students with a more active Cluster experience. Many faculty and students questioned the exertion put forth by those participating in Custer Softball, and if the school had abandoned its tradition of honoring physical fitness. Thus, many applauded the switch to Ultimate. Cluster Softball had been offered to the student body for years, giving students a chance to take part in a less intense version of America’s favorite pastime while enjoying the beautiful spring weather outdoors. Ultimate Frisbee, in comparison, is relatively new to the sports scene, both on campus and around the nation. The interscholastic Ultimate team only came into existence at PA ten years ago. Unlike Softball, the physically exhausting and fast-paced sport of Ultimate requires a lot of running and allows for less downtime on the field. This, in fact, was the main reason for its inauguration into the Andover cluster scene. In order to meet the minimum basics requirement, a sport must meet four times a week and provide students with forty-five minutes of exercise. Cluster Softball, which required little more than “tanning’ on the bench, failed to meet the requirement. The athletic department found that the only time a Cluster Softball player moved was from one base to another. This minimal physical activity only occurred a maximum of five times in a given forty-five minute span. Conversely, Ultimate Frisbee requires a great deal of movement and energy. When asked about the decision, Assistant Director of the Athletic Department Kate Dolan said, “We made the change to get more kids moving, and while it is a change in tradition we believe that Ultimate will begin a tradition of its own.” In time, Ultimate Frisbee could easily become a “traditional” Phillips Academy sport. Even though the teams would still be divided into clusters and, like softball, meet on the Great Lawn, the game of Ultimate should promote more teamwork and cluster unity. While Softball is also a team sport, its stress on individual performance does not enforce the same notion of teamwork. When asked what he thought about the change, Andy Hattemer ’03, a member of the 2002 Abbot Cluster Softball Championship team, commented, “I had a great time playing Cluster Softball but sometimes it got boring. I think Cluster Ultimate is a much needed addition to the spring term athletic offerings.” It seems that this break in tradition is indeed a positive move for both the Athletic Department, which seeks to keep the PA community healthy, and Andover students out for a good time. With a greater amount of exercise, an increased emphasis on teamwork, and student athletes excited to participate, Cluster Ultimate Frisbee will provide its participants with a better overall experience than previous offerings had. Kate Dolan concluded, “Because this spring is the inaugural season, there may be some bumps, but I am sure that Cluster Ultimate will be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.”