When the sun rose bright and clear on Saturday, October 10, 2015 it would prove to be an unusual day at the No Wisconsequences tournament in Merton, WI where 48 Open and 24 Girls college teams would compete in the popular fall tournament. Most of the players and spectators had no idea that history was being made at the tournament that day, but one “Ultimate Mom” knew that the day would be one for the record books.
My name is Michelle Swiatek. I have five children, four of which play ultimate. On that Saturday, at No Wisconsequences, all four of my children would be competing.
Our ultimate experience began in 2010 when my oldest son, Evan, began his final year at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. Evan had always played sports, but had not yet found his calling when he heard about the NV Ultimate Frisbee Club program run by Arnoush Javaherian (Coach Java). It was fall and the season wouldn’t start until spring, but he began to find out about the program and ensure he would have the opportunity to play. Evan and NV Ultimate did well that year surpassing expectations. Evan was hooked by the competitiveness, athleticism, and focus on spirit rather than referees! But that was just the beginning of a new legacy of family ultimate players.
That summer Evan’s brother, Ben, then 12, attended the NV Wildcat Camp to test the ultimate waters as well. After watching his brother, Evan, play he was intrigued athleticism and excitement of the game especially after focusing on soccer earlier in his life. By fall, the youngest brother, Sam (9), would quit soccer and start playing in NV’s first Middle School program. He appreciated the teamwork and special skills required. The final sibling, Allie (9) was an accomplished gymnast who had tired of the intense and individual focus of the sport. She would give it all up the following fall, to follow in her brother’s footsteps.
Fast forward to that clear, crisp day in October at No Wisconsequences. Evan (22) was playing his 5th and final time as 2nd year Captain of Marquette University (MU) Birdhouse. The NV Ultimate Program, now well known, would get its 5th bid to the College tournament. Ben (16) who made NV’s A team as a freshman, is now a Junior and Captain and would be playing his 3rd time at the tournament. Allie (13) who began playing with the NV HS Girls team at 12, had the opportunity in 2014 to step in and play with Marquette’s Girls team, Moxie, when they had so many injuries they didn’t have enough girls for a full line. With borrowed cleats and shorts she was invited to play by Devin Simonelli, a family friend, and would get 2 Callahans that day. Devin invited Allie back to play with Moxie again this year, enabling her 2nd year at the tournament. Sam (13) would participate in a tryout squad of NV’s potential A team. The stage was now set for the four Swiateks to take the field in ONE tournament of college level play…I had dreamt of such a miracle to see all four of my children play in one tournament and never thought it would happen given the age span from 13 to 22. In the end, I couldn’t have been prouder of all of them for competing hard, yet spirited, and complimenting each other’s play. At the end, I had tears in my eyes as they hugged and congratulated each other. #proudmama
Birdhouse went 6-1 on the weekend with their only loss on universe point. NV went 4-3 with 2 of those losses being on universe point and the other being to Birdhouse. Moxie went 5-2 with Allie getting MVP on Saturday. With that said, it makes no difference to me who won or lost, but what matters to me is that ultimate is the best sport around. The focus on teamwork, on spirit of the game, pure athleticism and fun is unmatched in any other sport I have experienced in my life. To be a part of the ultimate community over so many years…to see so many players come through different programs…to hear the players yell “Hey, Mama Swi” and receive hugs from all of them…to experience the spirit of the game again and again…that is what matters!
I did a lot of walking that weekend from one field to another to try to see everyone play. My children have been so fortunate to be part of two awesome ultimate programs through Marquette University and NV Ultimate Frisbee club. It was sad to think of this being Evan’s last year at the tournament, but I am consoled by the fact that I likely will attend it a minimum of 8 more years. And “ultimately” I know that this sport has changed our lives forever. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids and their teammates for their play and spirit every time they take the field.