Messiah is home to many sports teams who have shared a great deal of success in recent years. The soccer program typically comes to mind, followed by basketball and volleyball. Club sports tend to fly under the radar when it comes to Messiah Athletics. This too is true for the Messiah Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
The ultimate frisbee program was started in fall of 2004 by Chris Schulze. Schulze played in high school, and wanted to continue his playing days at Messiah. The team was co-ed for the first year of its existence, but later split to a men’s and a women’s team in 2005.
Messiah Ultimate quickly earned the reputation of being a high-flying program, consisting of a group of guys who were unafraid to put their body on the line. This relentless attitude built the team up and developed a solid foundation. They made sectionals for the first time in 2006, followed by a regional appearance the next year in 2007.
When college ultimate was divided into DI and DIII, Messiah was able to establish themselves as a top team in the area. They have been conference champions seven times in the past 10 years, currently riding a three year winning streak (not counting the season lost due to COVID 19). Their best seasons were in 2012 and 2015, where they won the conference and placed 3rd and 2nd at regionals respectively.
The history of winning is not the only factor that makes this program a success. It is the bond created between teammates that embodies what this program is all about.
“There is a lot of intentionality with the way we do things here at Messiah. When the focus is on lifting each other up, lifting ourselves up, and lifting Jesus up, great things will result from it,” said Charlie Hoppes, assistant coach.
Hoppes has been around many teams throughout his career, with his most recent endeavor coaching the New York Empire, who won the professional championship in 2022 after an undefeated season. Despite all the success he has experienced throughout his career, Hoppes still is drawn back to Messiah.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding this year’s team, and for good reason. Head coach Jon Rallo wants to take the next step this season and be in a position to qualify for the national tournament. The program has never qualified before, so this would be a huge accomplishment.
While the tangible results are important, “if the team can look back fondly on what they accomplished, the relationships they built, and the work they put in, the season will go down as a success in my book,” Rallo said.
Time will tell how this talented roster performs this spring.