COLUMBIA — The intensity of the game picks up with several members of the Black Cats swarming in the end zone, looking for an interception to record a point.
“Get to it! Kill him! Yeah!” Michael Rosenberg shouts as his teammate jumps to take the disc away from an outstretched hand of an opponent.
The shouting from Rosenberg, known as "Rosie" to his teammates, shows how serious the Black Cats are about their sport.
The Black Cats are a club team from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, one of 56 college teams participating in the Missouri Loves Company Ultimate Frisbee tournament at Cosmopolitan Park this weekend.
From the opening whistle of their game against the University of Colorado, the Black Cats play tight defense, run complicated plays, make diving catches and haul in long passes, all while running full speed.
The athleticism shown on the interception in the end zone and the passionate reaction to the score by Rosenberg and his teammates is a common occurrence during the tournament.
One team erupts with joy when it gets a point from a headlong diving catch in the back of the end zone, congratulating the player by piling on top of him in the end zone. Another team encourages a teammate when he has a disc go just off his fingertips while attempting a jumping catch on the sideline by telling him to make it up on defense.
The Black Cats players on the sideline sprint as one unit toward a teammate who has just jumped over an opponent to catch the Frisbee that was perfectly placed on a forehand pass from the opposite end of the field. The point clinched their win over Colorado.
This kind of enthusiasm comes naturally to the Black Cats, but the precision and athleticism the team displays is a product of hard work.
When they are home in Wisconsin, the Black Cats hold 6 a.m. practices three days a week. The practices are more than just tossing the disc around. The team does strength training to go along with passing and catching drills and runs to build up their endurance.
“My life consists of school, eating and Ultimate,” said Tres Mansfield, co-captain of the Black Cats.
The team is also extremely knowledgeable about the game. Only seven of the 28 members of the team play at any given time, so a lot of players turn into coaches when they aren’t on the field.
“A big part of this game is communication on the sidelines,” Mansfield said. “The biggest way you can get blown out is having a team get down on each other or fall apart as a team.”
Whether it is simple assurances or the whole team rushing onto the field to congratulate a teammate, the Black Cats' sideline is never still.
“The best thing that you can do in a winning situation is have your sidelines be loud and supportive of each other because once the team gets down on their selves, they will never be able to come out of it,” Mansfield said.
Even players from the Black Cats' B-team traveled to Columbia to provide moral support and to have a good time.
“I just thought there is nothing for me to really do in Milwaukee this weekend, so why not come down here and hang out and play some Frisbee,” said Ryan Hoffman, a B-team member who was hoping to play in a few points this weekend.
Missouri Loves Company concludes Sunday with championship games scheduled for 2 p.m.