BYU Men’s CHI Ultimate team looks to remain top-ranked

BYU Men’s CHI Ultimate team gathers for a team photo. CHI is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. (Taylor Larsen and Jenna Brittner)

BYU Men’s CHI Ultimate team is determined to remain one of the top Ultimate teams in the country after beating the No. 2 seed Carleton College and No. 5 seed Pittsburgh at the Florida Warm Up tournament in early February.

Men’s CHI Ultimate is the club team for BYU’s men’s Ultimate, a sport previously known as Ultimate Frisbee. CHI stands for “competition, humility and integrity.”

As a club team, CHI Ultimate it is not funded by BYU and has to come up with funds on its own. Without any BYU funding or access to campus gyms, practice fields or trainers, the team engages in a variety of fundraising activities.

The program hosts a number of clinics, leagues and high school camps each year that help raise money. Team alumni, parents and fans also participate in an annual fundraising drive. Through these efforts, the team raises about $50,000 yearly. The players pay the rest of the fees through team dues each season.

“We pay for our plane tickets, but we are usually able to coordinate with local bishoprics to find members who house us while we are there so we don’t have to pay for hotels,” first-year player Logan Clarke said.

The team competes in four to five tournaments across the country every winter semester. CHI often gets put in pools with some of the toughest teams because the team doesn’t play on Sundays.

“They allow us to participate in pool play or match play leading up to the bracket each Sunday,” head coach Bryce Merrill said. “It’s disappointing to not get the opportunity to go head-to-head with these teams in bracket play, but a number of tournament directors have gone to great lengths to accommodate our schedule restrictions and give us the chance to compete against some of the best squads in the country.”

BYU Men’s CHI ultimate team celebrates after a win at the Florida Warm Up tournament in early February. (Taylor Larsen and Jenna Brittner)

USA Ultimate, the governing body of Ultimate teams across the nation, hosts a three-round postseason each April and May where twenty teams compete in the national championships. With a current No. 4 ranking, CHI would be expected to qualify for this year’s event and advance as far as the semifinals or finals. Unfortunately, both the national championship and the two qualifying tournaments leading up to it require Sunday play.

CHI has earned postseason bid in each of the last four years and has worked to petition USA Ultimate to allow the team to participate with a modified schedule. At this time, the request has yet to be granted.

“We’ll continue to work with them to hopefully offer a system of modified scheduling similar to what has been provided by the NCAA and other national governing bodies,” Merrill said.

The team is a mix of returning players and newcomers, many of whom played Ultimate competitively in high school. This CHI team brings both experience and versatility.

“This year we returned a lot of players and our team is very young. I think that means that we play with a lot of energy and physicality, and we have a ton of potential this year and in the years to come to be a very good team,” Clarke said.

Not only do the players gain knowledge and experience from competing with this team, but they also learn about themselves spiritually. According to players, CHI has provided many positive memories and lessons.

Joseph Merrill leaps for the frisbee while being defended. Merrill said the CHI Ultimate team has taught him he can do “incredible things.” (Taylor Larsen and Jenna Brittner)

“It’s taught me that I can do incredible things and that each of us can. We have such great potential, and it’s really our choice to live up to that potential or to stay in the comfortable zone where we’ll never grow,” team captain Joseph Merrill said. “BYU CHI has also helped me trust God more and has strengthened my testimony.”

The No. 4 ranked CHI’s next tournament is the Stanford Invite, which begins March 2. It is considered one of the most competitive tournaments as only top 20 teams are invited.

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