By Tricia Duke ‘19
Meryl Davis ‘19, co-captain of the Knox Ultimate Frisbee team, says her favorite part of the Winter Whiteout Tournament is watching people from a wide range of backgrounds play and celebrate together.
The Winter Whiteout Tournament, which takes place every February, honors Natalie Veneziano, a Knox alumna who passed away shortly after her graduation in 1998. During the two-day tournament, the current Knox Ultimate team competes with a team of returning alumni and teams from other nearby colleges.
Davis described how, on the first morning of the tournament, players from all teams gathered in one circle.
“We celebrate the idea of Frisbee, the spirit of the game,” Davis said. In the “Spirit Circle,” every player gets to say who they are, what school they’re from, and how many Whiteout Tournaments they’ve attended. One Knox alum, Ned Earley ‘96, has been present at all 25.
This year, the teams also attended a banquet in observance of the 25th anniversary of the tournament. There, alumni shared stories about Veneziano, announced an endowment fund in her honor, and said that Veneziano would be proud of the community that the Knox Frisbee team is today.
“I think the perception of us on campus is that we’re together all the time,” Davis said. “You come into the cafeteria and we’re all sitting together. But what you also have to know is that we come from everywhere, and anyone can join.”
The Ultimate Frisbee team, unlike varsity sports on campus, is a completely open team that anyone can join at any point. As a result, the team shows a lot of academic and intellectual diversity.
“We have people everywhere. We have STEM majors, art majors, humanities [majors],” Davis said. She said that this social diversity ties into both Knox culture and the “spirit of the game.”
“Really [our inclusivity] ties into the whole idea of Ultimate, which is good sportsmanship,” she said. As an example of the “spirit of Ultimate,” Davis described how Ultimate matches are self-governed. The players don’t have referees.
“If you think you’ve been fouled or some other violation of the game has happened, you talk to the other team, and depending on what they say and what happens, you make a decision together,” she said.
An important aspect of playing on the Knox Ultimate team, where members come from a range of backgrounds and experience levels, is learning to work with people who are different.
“It absolutely adds a depth to the team that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Davis said. “The welcoming culture—it’s what I loved at my first practice. And this tournament shows us that this isn’t just a four-year thing, it’s a community we can come back to again and again.”