Pictured: (l-r) Elle Burstein and Alice Minor show off the hardware, having won both the Ultimate national championship and the Spirit Award.

Whitman’s women’s Ultimate Frisbee team won the national championship at the recent national tournament held in Columbus, Ohio.

And the men’s team powered its way to fifth place out of 26 teams, playing extremely well against tough competition, said Jeremy Norden ’11, a team-co-captain and economics/sociology double-major from Seattle.

The women’s team, now the 2009 Ultimate Players Association (UPA) national champions, also won the tournament Spirit Award.

“Winning the championship and the award sums up what the team is about; fun and sportsmanship. It speaks volumes for Whitman that we came home with both. We’re competitive, but we but don’t let that take away from the bonding and the overall experience,” said women’s co-captain Elle Burstein ’10, a classics major from Palo Alto, Calif.

Thirty-one Whitties competed in the tournament, 18 men and 13 women. On campus, however, more than 100 students regularly play the sport, which Norden says “really draws people together.”

Whitman’s Ultimate intramural group — which has men’s women’s and coed divisions — is one of the largest student clubs and organizations on campus. Whether they’re just practicing or playing Ultimate against the Whitman men’s basketball team, hosting Onionfest (the annual tournament open to the community as well as Whitman teams) or holding an event for school kids, Ultimate players feel “very connected on and off the field,” Norden says.

Burstein agrees. “Whitman is a cohesive, welcoming, inclusive community, and it’s an all-around welcoming experience to play Ultimate.” She said players of all skill levels are welcome to play at practice sessions. For tournaments, captains select the strongest team members.

Team member Alice Minor ’12, of Everett, Wash., is still deciding on her major but has found her passion – Ultimate. She had played rarely before Whitman; now she’s hooked and plays 5-6 days per week. “It’s a wonderful way to get to know people, and we have a very special bond,” she says.

Ultimate is non-contact team sport, played by thousands world-wide. “It mixes the best features of sports such as soccer, basketball, American football and netball into an elegantly simple yet fascinating and demanding game,” according to the Web site whatisultiamte.com