The Oberlin Review

In the Locker Room with Zoe Bluffstone, Jessica Hubert and Jackie Milestone

Zoe+Bluffstone+%28left%29+and+Jessica+Hubert
Zoe Bluffstone (left) and Jessica Hubert

Zoe Bluffstone (left) and Jessica Hubert

Benjamin Shepherd, Photo editor

Benjamin Shepherd, Photo editor

Zoe Bluffstone (left) and Jessica Hubert

Randy Ollie, Sports Editor

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This week, the Review sat down with members of the Preying Manti, Oberlin’s competitive women’s Ulti­mate Frisbee club team. Seniors Zoe Bluffstone, Jessica Hubert and Jackie Milestone (not pictured) discussed go­ing to Nationals their freshman year, memorable moments and expecta­tions for their last season.

Did you know that you were going to play Ultimate at Oberlin before you came here?

Zoe Bluffstone: Yes! I specifically knew that I wanted to find a school that had a strong women’s Ultimate program, and I found it!

Jackie Milestone: I figured I would check out the team and see what it was about, but I wasn’t set on it.

Jessica Hubert: I actually did, al­though it wasn’t really for the sport. I randomly came in knowing I wanted to do Ultimate because I figured it would be chill and I’d make friends quick. I ended up making some of the best friendships that I now have and ended up falling in love with the sport while at it.

Can you describe what it was like going to Nationals your freshman year?

ZB: It was incredible to go to Na­tionals as a freshman on the A-team. We were undefeated at Regionals, which meant that if we beat the last team at the tournament, Swarth­more [College], we would automati­cally qualify. The Manti played with such intensity and focus, it felt like I held my breath for the entire game. When we finally scored the winning point, we all rushed the field cheer­ing and crying. The seniors that year had really wanted to go to Nationals for their last year at Oberlin, and now we want to get back there.

JM: Well, I was on B-team my freshman year, so I didn’t play at Nationals, but I still went to support the team. It was pretty incredible. First of all, I just felt really cool to be there, and watching Ultimate at that level and knowing that the Manti, our team, was also at that level was pretty amazing. It was also just a lot of fun team-bonding-wise, because we stayed at the house of one of our seniors and just all hung out a lot, as always happens on tournament weekends.

JH: I wasn’t on the A-team that year, but I did tag along just to watch. It was so incredible watching my teammates ball out and play Frisbee with some of the best teams in the nation. I’ve never been so anxious and in such a nerve-wracking situa­tion for such an extended period of time, but we ended up placing 11th in the country, I think, and it was just such happy moment for everyone!

What are your expectations for this season?

ZB: As a captain, I’m hoping to lead the team to play at a really high level and to continually push our­selves to find solutions to our prob­lems on the field through careful training, mental focus and strategic leadership. Underlying all of that, I want there to be a foundation of support and community that makes practices, gym sessions and tourna­ments fun while simultaneously competitive. By attending appropri­ate tournaments later this fall and definitely in the spring, we will put all of our hard work into practice and develop a team chemistry for both A- and B-teams.

JM: My expectations are definitely high. I think the team looks stronger than I’ve ever seen it since my fresh­man year when we went to Nation­als, which is huge since it’s so early in the season. Most of the beginners are just really good and seem really com­mitted and picked up the basics so fast. I think we definitely have a good shot for Nationals.

JH: As captain, my expectations are that everyone will work super hard, fall in love with the game and make tons of friends. Will we go to Nationals? Who knows. All I want is for us to build a strong team that I feel good passing on to the next cap­tains when I graduate.

What is your pregame ritual?

ZB: I definitely try to sleep a lot before a tournament! We dance on the sideline, but I mostly lead the warm-ups and drills for the team to get ready for the game. I also try to think about what I know about the team from previous matchups so that I can give helpful insight to the team in our pregame huddle.

JM: That depends on how early the game is. Usually it’s roll out of bed, layer up if it’s cold out, which it usually is, stumble to someone’s ho­tel room to pound about three bagels before hopping in a car and blasting pump-up jams. Honestly, the thing that pumps me up the most in get­ting ready for a game is just being around the team.

JH: One thing we always do be­fore our first game of a tournament is sing the national anthem. I have no idea why we do that, but it gets us pumped and it’s something that no other team does.

Do you listen to music before games? If so, give me three songs that absolutely have to be on any playlist you listen to.

ZB: When we unload out of the cars at a tournament someone usu­ally bumps the music from a car, and we all dance as we put on our cleats and gather our stuff. “Doses and Mi­mosas” by Cherub has got to be one of them.

JM: “Stuntin’ Like Mufasa” by Birdman and Lil Wayne plus The Lion King — unreal mashup. It’s tradition. “My House” [by] Flo Rida — a Fris­bee classic as of the spring break trip last year. And “All I Do is Win” [by DJ Khaled feat. T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross] — classic.

JH: I’m not really a music person before games. I actually just like to picture how I’m going to play and what I want to do — just kind of run things through my head.

What has been your favorite part of playing Frisbee at Oberlin?

ZB: One of my favorite parts about playing Ultimate at Oberlin has been playing with the same play­ers for three or four years. I think that’s one awesome thing about Ul­timate: Wherever you find an ulti­mate community, you can also find friends. I even made friends through the Ultimate community that I found in Hanoi, Vietnam while I was abroad.

JM: My favorite part of Frisbee is definitely the team. I’ve made my best friends through the team. There’s just nothing better than heading out for a weekend scrim­mage, where we practice by playing ourselves for two hours on a beauti­ful fall day, and just running around and throwing discs with your bud­dies. It’s just a great group of people to be a part of. We all bring a lot of passion and love for the sport and for each other.

Do you have any regrets about your time playing Ultimate at Oberlin?

ZB: I wish that I had decided to go on the spring break tournament trip before my junior year. Along with being two important tournaments for the team to grow and improve together, since we also travel long distances in cars, it’s also a great op­portunity to really get to know the people on your team that are in your car.

JM: I regret not going back to McDougal’s a second time on our Nashville tournament freshman year. There was this incredible fried chicken place called McDougal’s that we went to for dinner one night, and then one of the juniors vetoed my vote to go back the next day! I’ll never get over it.

JH: No regrets!

If you had to pitch playing Ulti­mate Frisbee to an incoming first-year, how would you describe it?

ZB: Ultimate is centered on the concept of the “spirit of the game,” which gives trust and respect to all of the players to self-officiate. From this aspect of the game comes the goofy, close-knit and spirited community that definitely defines the Preying Manti. By playing Ultimate, you join a community that supports and loves each other on and off the field.

JM: I would say whether or not you’ve ever played the sport, if it seems like fun to you, we can totally teach you. All you need is a passion for wanting to learn Frisbee and an enthusiasm for being on a team. It’s a great way to get exercise that isn’t nearly as intense as playing a varsity sport but still at a high level. You’ll also be part of a fantastic group of people that will always have your back. There’s a pretty wide range of feelings on competitiveness, and so far captains past and present have done a pretty good job of providing some sort of middle ground, or op­tions between Aand B-teams that can accommodate that. It is defi­nitely a big time commitment, but if you’re ready for that, I don’t think I’ve found anything that’s given back as much as being a part of the Preying Manti has.

JH: If I had to pitch it, I’d say, “Come play Ultimate! It doesn’t mat­ter if you know what it is or even con­sider yourself athletic. All skill levels and interest levels welcome!” I joined randomly my freshman year, and it was probably one of the best deci­sions I’ve ever made at Oberlin. It’s a healthy mix of love of the sport and love for the people you’re around. So if either of those things interest you, I’d give it a try.

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