The plan for Dillo Day is pretty similar for the whole student body. Intoxicating music from Regina Spektor in the afternoon, Guster in the early evening and Nelly at night as well as a sprinkling of other intoxicants throughout the day.
The nights of the headliner announcements, students were compulsively checking their emails at midnight.
But Dana O’Neal and Kim Streff have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to miss it.
The two captains of Northwestern’s club Ultimate Frisbee team have been working all year to make it to the national championship in Madison, Wisc. this Friday through Monday. The competition features about 12,000 athletes from more than 700 colleges.
“We set our goal back in the winter to make nationals,” O’Neal said, “and everything we’ve done since then has been a step in the right direction.”
The team of 33 has been riding high since the CenTex Invitational in Austin, Tex. last March, especially since Northwestern had never gotten a bid to attend the invitational before. They had been seeded 27th overall and broke seed to emerge with a ranking of 18th.
One specific aspect has been working in the team’s favor.
“We have a new coach this year, which is a big help,” Streff said. “Just having a new person around and a new set of eyes helps push the girls.”
Ron Kubalanza has played about 18 years of ultimate frisbee for the men’s division of the Ultimate Players Association (currently known as USA Ultimate) before snagging a job as the Northwestern club coach. He thinks one of his biggest achievements has been learning to cope with weather conditions.
“They’ve been excelling with working in the wind,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of games where it’s been really windy and offense has taken advantage of scoring opportunities in those conditions.”
Both O’Neal and Streff agree that ultimate frisbee is a very mental game and Kubalanza thinks they have really perfected that aspect of playing.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games where we were able to pull out because they’ve been able to push through the tiredness,” he said.
However, the team knows there is no such thing as being perfect. They’ve been practicing rigorously three times a week in three-hour increments.
“We’re trying to work on our defense a lot,” Streff said, “as well as a couple specific aspects like shutting people down on defense.”
According to O’Neal, one of the biggest struggles is handling a zone defensive structure as opposed to a man-on-man one. The trick here is to patiently move the Frisbee around until a defender makes a mistake and leaves a hole in the zone coverage.
The team consists of many ex-soccer or track players, with ultimate serving as their new athletic outlet. About half of the players are also first-year players. At the start of the season, they were split into A- and B-teams so there could be more one-on-one coaching to help with the transition into Ultimate Frisbee.
Although this means all 33 members will miss the Mayfest concert (the first Dillo Day ever for some members), they all seem to share the same consensus.
“This is like the one thing that I would absolutely miss Dillo Day for,” Streff said. “This is what we’ve worked the entire year for, and there’s no way I would give up nationals to go and watch a bunch of bands on the lakefill.”