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Bill Penrose ’86

Team Chill revisited

Team Chill frisbee team
Team Chill in 2008. Photo by Evan Nisselson '91

Departments / Alumni Voice

Team Chill Revisited

Frisbee pals reunite to throw another day

by Bill Penrose ’86

One evening last November, the phone rings. My daughter Isabel, reading the caller ID phonetically, says, “Eric Desslorryer?”

“Get out!” I holler, like Elaine on Seinfeld, minus the shove. I hadn’t seen Eric DesLauriers ’89 in ten years, but the smiles in our voices melt that time in a moment. We had played three years together on the UVM Ultimate Frisbee team, dubbed Team Chill in 1986.

I’d played Ultimate before, but the UVM guys showed me how the game should be played. We practiced four days a week, indoors in winter, toured the Northeast on weekends, road-tripped to Florida one spring break, all in a quest to make nationals. We came close. My last two years, Team Chill fell one game short of qualifying, defeated in ’86 by eventual champ UMass.

The year after I graduated, UVM finally qualified; I drove all the way from Utah to watch them play. Along with the Cynic, Team Chill wasn’t just the best part of my life at UVM—it was my life.

More than two decades later, Eric had found an envelope on which he’d once scrawled “Never Throw Away.” Inside were an ’86 team picture and the verses I’d written for each player, then read at the season-ending celebration. Eric had scanned them into his computer and was gathering email addresses. His first note went to four people: Art Gluck ’87, Scott Webb ’84, Walter van der Schraaf ’86, and me. Walt passed it to Mark Butler ’86 that day.

As the team begins to reconnect via the Web, I float the idea of a reunion team at Potlatch, an annual coed tournament in Seattle. Eric jumps on board, then Walt, Arty, and Mark. Within a week I send Kimo Shotz ’89 a note on Facebook about a UVM team at Potlatch. I sense this might happen when she replies, “Yes yes yes yes yes yes YES!!!!!!!”

Over the July 4 weekend in Seattle, it happens—we’re together again on a field for a game of ultimate. Many haven’t played since college, others in ten years or more. The old skills are there, but our legs are as old as those skills. We play sloppily, overestimate speed, miss connections we once made instinctively. We drop our first game, 14-10. Win the second, 11-10, but lose the third, 15-12. We mull dropping the first letter, or the first word, from our name, Never Throw Away. We find some solace in how great we look in custom shirts.

The next day we go 0-3, none of them close. A few of us (OK, me) get frustrated, but we rise up to create some more great memories before responsibility settles in. 

Playing his last point, Jamie Flicker ’87 streaks long. I put a throw well in front of him, and he dives for the catch and score. We share a high-five and a huge hug, and then he’s gone. Jamie tells me later he’ll replay that catch for years to come.

Next game, Woo Jin Ho ’91 spots five-foot Rebecca Kline ’88 playing deep, ignored by the defense. Wooj fires a long throw. She backpedals for the catch, then falls on her back, legs in the air, and pops up with a grin that shouts “I’m gonna remember that forever!” She takes a victory lap down our sideline, then heads to the airport with Evan Nisselson ’91.

In our last game Saturday, Rich First ’90 hits John Spierling ’89 for an encumbered goal a neutral spectator calls “the sickest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Sunday, exhausted, we lose two close games to finish 1-7, an earthbound end to this stellar holiday. My spirits rise when I learn the team we beat went 5-1 their first two days. Team Chill, we are so red hot. Never throw away the fresh memories.

Originally published in the Fall 2008 issue.

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