Preying Manti Look to Continue Past Success

Quinn Hull

On a foggy Saturday last spring, the Preying Manti arrived at an innocuous patch of grass in Buffalo, NY, site of the USA Ultimate Division III College Ultimate Championshps. Then, with incisors glinting and bodies bowed, the Manti — also known as the Oberlin women’s Ultimate Frisbee team — proved they were among the nation’s best by finishing fifteenth in the small-college division.

Last year’s impressive showing on college Ultimate Frisbee’s biggest stage remains a fond memory for this year’s Preying Manti team.

Said College sophomore Rosie Black, a member of last year’s Buffalo bunch, “It just made me really proud.”

But it isn’t the first time the Ultimate ladies have tossed the disc with America’s best at Nationals (or “Natties” in the Ultimate vernacular). The team’s competitive history also includes a Natties appearance in 2010 and several more in the ’90s — back when the National tournament wasn’t divided between big and small schools, and Oberlin had to compete against universities with larger talent pools.

With their season-opening home tournament this weekend against rival powerhouses such as Denison University and Ohio Wesleyan University, the Manti say they don’t feel pressed to duplicate those past successes.

Senior co-captain Danielle Schrimmer said she has felt a little “internal” pressure to make it back to Nationals for a third straight year, but at this juncture the team seems relaxed. It’s fall, and Natties are a spring thing. Right now, the focus is on acquainting a bevy of starry-eyed disc novices to the Manti ethos of “spirit, community and Frisbee.”

“We have a huge group of new members this year,” said Schrimmer. “We’re focusing on getting them caught up for the time being.”

A lot of these newcomers are first-years, and while some rookies join the Manti with prior Ultimate experience, many join during Orientation with little prior knowledge about the game.

Schrimmer had not played before stepping on campus, but she “wanted to play Ultimate from the first day I saw some tossing happening on North Quad out of my Barrows window.”

Now, Schrimmer is the head of the Manti. She and senior co-captain Karen Harceg plan practices, tournaments and community-building projects for an extremely close-knit Oberlin bunch.

Every Mantis adheres faithfully to “FTT.”

“You know what it stands for?” asked Black. “For The Team.”

But don’t let this team-centric acronym fool you — the Manti still bring plenty of Oberlin flair. Sometimes they’ll be garbed for practice in flamboyantly colorful costumes to celebrate a member’s birthday. And on van rides to and from tournaments, the group might break into a Frisbee-themed sing-along to “Party in the USA” or “Teenage Dream.”

Like most successful athletic teams, at game time, the Manti mean business. Which begs the question, will we see the extravagantly-dressed or the game-faced Manti this weekend?

“During the upcoming tournament and the rest of the season we’re going to have lots of fun and learn as much as we can, from each other and from the teams we play against,” said Herceg.

“But,” she added, “we expect to win a few games.”