COLUMBIA — Ethan White gathered his team after warm-ups at the Battle High School football field.
It was 30 minutes until the Fly Cats would play their first game Saturday at the 2014 Show-Me State Games. The Fly Cats are an Ultimate Frisbee team consisting of mainly students from the College of the Ozarks, a private Christian college near Branson and Hollister.
White, the player-coach for the Fly Cats, led the team meeting while members described their personal and team goals for the tournament. White said he wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page before the first game started.
There was another team sitting around, chatting and telling stories. Another team was standing by the registration booth, signing in and deciding which snacks to buy.
The Fly Cats began to pray.
Everyone stood up and formed a circle. One of the players, Evan Hoffpauir, started the prayer.
“Lord, thank you very much for this beautiful day. Thank you for competition, and lord help us get along with today and have today help us become better friends. Help our spirits be high and help us have fun. In your name, we pray.”
The Fly Cats were one of nine teams competing in the Ultimate Frisbee tournament at the Show-Me State Games on Saturday. They were in the open division, which has no restrictions on age or gender. Each team played four games Saturday in a round-robin format. The divisional playoffs and finals are on Sunday.
Teams score points by crossing the end zone while passing the disc between seven teammates on the field. After the disc is caught, the player can't move. He or she can only pivot to pass it to another teammate.
The Fly Cats lost their first game by one point.
Austin Lemonds, captain of the Fly Cats, wasn't mad or frustrated after the loss, though — he had a smile on his face.
Lemonds said he wasn't upset because most of his teammates are good friends. He plays for the love for the sport and the team.
His best friends on the team are Josh Branstetter and White.
White, a senior at the College of the Ozarks, and Lemonds started rooming together Lemonds’ sophomore year.
“It was awesome rooming with Ethan,” Lemonds said. “We’ll be sitting in the room and throwing the disc trying not to break anything. We play a lot of videos games, too. We love “League of Legends” and “Call of Duty.”
During Lemonds’ freshman year, White introduced him to Ultimate Frisbee. Lemonds said White has been playing the sport for a long time. White has played on many U.S.A. Ultimate club and summer teams.
“Ethan pretty much taught me how to play the game,” Lemonds said. “We went to the field and he showed me how to throw and catch and then we started practicing and doing drills. This is where we are today.”
Lemonds said Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that brings people together.
He knows that from experience.
“I never would have met them or became friends with them if I wouldn’t have started playing,” Lemonds said.
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.