State-bound BHS ultimate team builds chemistry through common interests


Credit to league Facebook page

Bearden senior captain Matt Sui makes a catch in a recent ultimate game. Sui and the Disc Dogs are headed to state on Saturday.

Four years ago, Matt Sui was finding his niche at Bearden as a trumpet player in the school’s award-winning marching band. After having been invited by his cousin to try out for the ultimate Frisbee team, though, he realized he could become both a Bearden musician and athlete.

Now Sui is about to graduate high school as a talented trumpet player and as one of the captains of Bearden’s ultimate team (the other is junior Jimmy Friedel). And Sui is one of several on the team to find success both in the marching band and on the ultimate field.

The Bearden Disc Dogs (6-2 Knoxville Youth Ultimate League) are headed to the state tournament on Saturday after finishing their regular season. Bearden will also have to make up the City Tournament within the coming weeks due to it being snowed out earlier in the season.

Sui has been a staple for the Bulldogs the past four seasons. Co-head coach Quent Wilson said that Sui has brought much experience and has become a huge leader for the team on and off the field. Being a senior this season has been a new experience for Sui.

“It’s been different because I am used to being the one under and following the people above me,” Sui said.

Added senior Will Bendy: “He actually really knows what he is doing because he’s done it for four years and he’s really experienced and so he just kind of transports that to us.”

Coach Wilson said that Sui and Friedel have a strong chemistry that enables them to play well together and that they both are skilled at catching and throwing the disc.

“They do a really good job of leading by example on the sidelines and on the field as well,” Coach Wilson said.

Sui plans to continue his ultimate career in college and plans on studying at Pellissippi State Community College and eventually getting a degree in computer engineering.

Sports have the unique power to unite people together, and that has been Sui’s favorite part about playing on Bearden’s Ultimate team the past four years.

“I think just getting to hang around people that have a common interest,” Sui said. “And playing with them and having fun with them.”

One common interest that links the Bulldogs is playing in Bearden’s marching band. In fact, Sui, Bendy, Joel Eaton, Matthew Raymond, Tyler Coffey,  Ryan Hammitt, and Zane Moore all played in the marching band and formed a unique bond that transferred on to the ultimate field.

“All of us usually hang out during marching band season,” Sui said. “So we all work really well together.”

Coach Wilson said that having a senior heavy team this season has been a huge part of their success .

Ultimate operates a lot like Soccer and has different positions such as handlers and poppers, which Sui described as the main cutters in the sport. Coach Wilson said that Sui has acted as the team’s main handler and is one of the more skilled players on the team. Coach Wilson said that Sui has a great field sense that helps him make big plays during games.

Coach Wilson, who was a member of Bearden’s ultimate team and graduated from Bearden in 2008, went on to play ultimate at the University of Tennessee and has coached at Bearden for two years.  Coach Marilyn Lee has been playing ultimate for the past 18 years and has been coaching at Bearden for three years.

Coach Lee said that she would love to see more girls get involved and hopefully start a Bearden  girls ultimate tournament team.

Coach Wilson said that the Knoxville Youth Ultimate League, which is made up of 10 schools from all over Knoxville and the surrounding areas, has definitely been a huge factor in aiding the growth of Ultimate Frisbee in Knoxville.

Sui said that at the beginning of the season he had his doubts about how his team would do because they could not seem to pull it together at practice, but that by the time the season started they started to come together as a team and click.

“This season has been going really well,” Coach Wilson said. “We’ve improved on our offensive and defensive schemes quite a bit and it seems like everyone is playing is kind of starting to play more of as one solid unit rather than as individuals.”

Added Bendy: “We’re playing really well and we’re finally starting to get a groove on offense and defense and our defense has been really good so we look to continue that.”

Sui said that Friedel, fellow juniors Melvin Lu and Evan Alexander, and sophomore Devin Beckett have stepped up this season.

As the Disc Dawgs prepare to travel to Murfreesboro for the state tournament on Saturday, they are pleased with how their season has gone so far and while they would love to bring home a state title for the first time in Bearden history.

“I am not really too concerned about where we place,” Coach Wilson said. “More so [about] us playing to our potential. If we play our game and play up to our potential, we control the outcome of the game and where we’re gonna be at the end of the game.

“We can beat just about anybody if we play our game.”