|NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO1/2 |NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
|NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO2/2 |NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
By high noon, the July sun beat down on the field at Diamond Middle School like a boiling sledgehammer. Those who escaped to the Cape or the North or South Shore beaches, or had air conditioners running were undoubtedly enjoying their refuge. But the women of Boston’s elite ultimate frisbee team, The Brute Squad, were out in the field giving it their all for their weekly practice.
Many of the Brutes started their infatuation with ultimate frisbee in high school and college. Paula Seville and team captain Becky Malinowski’s high school team where rivals, which is odd given their backgrounds: Seville grew up in Atlanta and Malinowski hails from Amherst. The small pool of teams travel the country from all over.
“I think I was just a lost little freshmen at the University of Michigan before I joined up with their ultimate team,” Malinowski said. “There aren’t too many team sports that are played at a high intensity level after college. With this, you can still compete and train at a high level. This isn’t an adult rec league. This has way more strategy and requires more sacrifice than a pick-up league.”
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About 60 women tried out for the Brute Squad in their first year on the scene, but more than half were sent packing seeing how the rosters max out at 27. Over 100 came to check it out. As team captain, Malinowski said that weeding out the talent is no easy task given how intensely the women had trained and the level of talent in the area.
The game of ultimate frisbee is an interesting blend of other sports. Top speed sprinting paired with do-or-die timing and rugged endurance are only the first line of ingredients.
On offense, one person throws the frisbee to receivers much like a quarterback, except the player in possession can’t move while holding the disk, meaning everyone will have to throw it at some point or another. Receivers weave in and out of defenders like a soccer game, but there’s no set position. The object is to stampede up the 70 yard field to reach the end zone for a single point. The defenders play body-to-body coverage like you’d see in basketball. Games are generally untimed, but generally go about two hours, otherwise they go until one team hits 15 points.
“Every team has their own style,” Seville said. “We try to do a combination of both. It’s fun to see the different styles in the international league. You have the U.S. team where the players are bombing it up the field with big passes and get down the field in a few throws. Then you have the Japanese national team, for example, that do a bunch of quick, short passes. That’s harder to defend against.”
The Brutes raise their own money, pay for their practice fields and make the sacrifice to be at practice once a week, traveling from distances as close as the Greater Boston Area to Amherst to Dartmouth, NH.
They are coming off of a tournament that got national attention from an ESPN broadcast. They are getting close to making the national championship, finishing in third last year. There are roughly 20 teams on their elite level, which means traveling all over the country to three or four tournaments each year with the goal of making it to the championship in Texas.
They lick their chops at the opportunity to go up against the Seattle Riot or the Washington Scandal. Whether or not the word “rivalry” is applicable is irrelevant. The days where they get to clash with those squads are circled on their calendars.
“We always have close games with them,” Malinowski said. “It’s always a toss up. They might win one, but we’ll win the next one. So we gut it out with them.”
At present, the Brutes have a match coming up in the Boston area on Wednesday, August 12, but still have no venue to play in.
“We would match up with a traveling college team,” Malinowski said. “There are two other women’s teams in Boston, but we’re the ones you have to try out for. We all have full-time jobs and can barely afford all the flights, but we do it because we’re all trying to achieve something big.”