With player nicknames like “The Diesel,” “The Horse,” and “Chocolate Brrrrrhrrrrrrr,” one might think it’s a team that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But when it comes to competing for the national stage, the Harvard Red Line and Quasar ultimate Frisbee teams are strictly business.
With their success at Regionals last weekend, the men’s Red Line and women’s Quasar teams now anxiously await to hear what seeding will come their way for Nationals, where the top 20 teams in the country will face off. For the Red Line—a team whose roots stretch back to the 1970s—it’s nothing new, but for Quasar, this season marks its first trip to the championships, which will take place in Madison, Wisc. over Memorial Day Weekend.
To qualify for Nationals, each team had to take on long-standing area rivals at the New England Regional tournament last weekend. To make the Nationals cut, each team had to place within the top two in the region. The Red Line swept its slate, which featured Tufts and Middlebury—both of whom got the upper hand earlier in the season. With the sweep, the Red Line can expect its highest-ever bid in the postseason. Quasar polished off Stonehill and Tufts—both of whom also beat Quasar in the regular season—clinching its first postseason nod despite a loss to Middlebury.
Though it’s the first time for Quasar, a bid to the tournament has been a long time coming. Last season, Quasar finished third at Regionals, but it only lost three players from that team while adding a whole crop of freshman talent. Quasar knew it had all the pieces in place, but the thought of a postseason still remained an unspoken goal.
“It was the closest thing to saying we want to go to Nationals,” Quasar co-captain Bianca Verma says about the team’s position at the beginning of the season. “We didn’t want to jinx it.”
For the Red Line, according to junior co-captain George Stubbs, it’s been a near miracle to finish the season. Plagued by injuries—sophomores Richard Newcomb and Thomas Heffernan suffered a broken collarbone and broken nose, respectively, and junior Robbie “J” Helbling rebroke his foot—the team limped into the regional tournament.
Another junior, Andrew Vogt, has also seen limited action this season due to injury, but he’s no stranger to playing through pain in high stakes ultimate competition. The Winnipeg native captained the Canadian junior national team both in 2006 and 2008. And when he was able to get in this season, according to Stubbs, “he played a like a rockstar.”
Indeed, the entire Red Line team lived up to its potential in defeating the squad’s regional foes.
Still, while both teams are excited and focused on their upcoming competitions against elite opponents, getting to Nationals has taken more than just skill: fielding a team at all at the club level is a difficult task. Each team is allotted only $2,000 from the Undergraduate Council, which, according to Stubbs, is about the amount of money needed to cover one player.
“It’s hard,” Stubbs says. “It’s a big financial commitment that everyone has to make each year.”
In addition to paying out of pocket, both teams also rely heavily on their alumni bases, which have stayed actively connected—many alums have offered to drive up to Madison from Chicago to drive players around. And with support like this throughout the program, both the Quasar and Red Line hope to make attending Nationals a regular expectation.
“This year, since our program has been growing so much, our alums are really invested in how we’re doing,” Verma said. “Building an alumni base…is really going to be the future of our organization.”
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