If you walk behind Hopkinton High School after school, chances are you’ll find a gaggle of teenagers running, yelling, and tossing around a Frisbee.
This is The Blitzkrieg.
Named for their battle cry as they charge down the field to victory, the Blitzkrieg is a group of Hopkinton High School students who share a common passion: Ultimate Frisbee.
Commonly referred to as "Ultimate," Ultimate Frisbee is a sort of soccer-football hybrid, part of the reason why so many enjoy playing it.
The game is played with two teams and one disc. Players must try to score in this non-contact sport by moving the disk to the opposing team’s end zone, just like in football.
They do so by only pivoting while in contact with the disc, and by passing to their teammates. Sportsmanship, teamwork and skill are crucial in this extreme version of the backyard pastime.
The Ultimate Frisbee Club at Hopkinton High School is led by captains Dan Quigley and Matt Mangano, both seniors, and Max Vumbaca, a junior. The three boys are captains and coaches to this group of passionate players.
Practices consist of full-field, full-fledged scrimmages, as well as drills to target specific techniques and abilities. Skills such as "reading the disc" (being able to predict where it will land), are acquired only by playing the game, and need to be sharpened by scrimmages.
After school, about 30 kids flock to the field to sharpen their skills, build a strong sense of teamwork, and just have fun playing the game.
The team began humbly a few years ago with Don Bumiller, Pat Govoni and Wingcue Balschi. These three “Founding Fathers” tossed a disc in back yards, at neighborhood parties, and the seeds were planted.
Soon, others started showing interest in the game. So last year, they formed the first HHS Ultimate Frisbee Club. The band of about 10 kids met when it wanted, and scrimmaged when enough players showed up.
Last year, when Don, Pat and Wingcue’s graduations were approaching, they made some good moves. To make sure the club stayed strong and their legacy lived on, they scheduled a few games and bought uniforms.
Before leaving the high school, they appointed three new captains: Quigley, Vumbaca and Mangano.
This year, the team has made an astounding leap from a few kids tossing a disc to a 30-member team with a 13-game season, an all-state competition, a tournament and new uniforms.
“It’s grown dramatically since the start,” says Diane Welch, the Ultimate club’s advisor. Ms. Welch is a wellness teacher at Hopkinton High School and the club advisor.
“The club is almost completely student-run!" she said. "I am very proud of these kids and how they’ve taken their love for the game so far.”
With their uniforms, practices, teamwork and game schedule, you’d expect The Blitzkrieg to be an honored school sports team, right?
The HHS Blitzkrieg is a school club, a sports team in disguise.
“It’s in the books as a club, but has ‘team’ written all over it,” says captain Dan Quigley.
The Blitzkrieg plays games against teams from other schools, each one a club as well.
According to Ms. Welch, it’s more difficult to get field time as a club than as a team. It’s unfortunate that all these Ultimate-lovers can’t technically call themselves a sports team, but the title "club" pays off with the type of environment it promotes.
“Being a club allows us to maintain the fun, just have a good time, and keep the laid-back atmosphere that led me to start playing,” says Vumbaca, who joined the club his freshman year.
Looking ahead, The Blitzkrieg hopes to attract even more attention in upcoming years.
If enough students join, the captains see them splitting into an A team and a B team, each with their own game schedules.
The captains are also looking forward to establishing future leadership in to lead the Ultimate team on its way.
But what really holds this team of kids together? “When it comes down to it,” Quigley says, “We’re just a bunch of students loving Ultimate.”
- Catherine Cote is a Hopkinton High School student
If you are interested in seeing The Blitzkrieg’s games, visit their website for the game schedule, rules, and a team roster!