Excitement was palpable and tensions ran high the weekend of May 4-5, when the Carrboro Clams, CHS’ ultimate frisbee team, brought home their first State Championship title.
The Clams, an unofficial team not recognized or sponsored by the school, have gone to States every year, but this is the first time they’ve ever won.
Winning states will allow the Clams to compete in the National Championships for the first time as well.
“Everybody couldn’t believe that we won States, and now that they realize we’re going to nationals, we’re all very excited,” said Howard Chu, senior and four-year veteran on the team.
Traveling to High Point, NC on May 4 for the first day of the State Championships, the team successfully managed a 3-1 record. Their only loss was against reigning champions Carolina Friends School (CFS), who have been on the national leaderboards for the past six to seven years.
“CFS lost to Jordan High last year, so Jordan and CHS kind of helped topple the CFS dynasty, but even so CFS is always seeded 1. We were seeded 3 this year, so people were rooting for us as the underdogs,” said Chu about the team dynamics this year at States.
On May 5, the second day of States, the Clams played an easy first round against Green Hope, and moved onto the semi-finals against Durham Academy (DA), in which they won by a close 11-10 margin. The finals round put the Clams against CFS for the second time, where they were able to overcome a tight game to win 13-11, giving them their first State Championship title and a bid to Nationals.
“I’m glad it’s finally the Year of the Clam. We’ve had the ‘year of the clam’ chant every single year, and this is the first time it’s actually come true,” said Sam Jarrett, a senior who caught the game-winning throw.
At Nationals, which will be held June 7-8 in Rockfort, Illinois, the Clams will compete for a national title against 15 other nationally-ranked teams from all over the country.
Because the Clams aren’t an official CHS sports team, their regular season is composed of games within the High School Spring League, and tournaments such as Queen City Tune Up, where they’ve played against top-five nationally ranked teams many times.
However, their unofficial status also means that traveling to tournaments and championships is all out-of-pocket; the Clams receive no funding from the school at all. Because of this, the Clams are dependent on parents and volunteers for coaching staff, practice fields and transportation.
As of right now, the Clams are coached by Schuyler Kylstra, who played for UNC Darkside, the ultimate frisbee team at UNC-Chapel Hill. They also have UNC volunteer student coaches Marc Rovner and Chatan Driehuys.
“The Triangle area is very competitive environment for frisbee,” said Chu. “We’ve become a very tight-knit team.”