Bangarang prepares for future, names Anna McNulty as first coach

by Kara Need | Sports Editor

Photo courtesy of Daniel Gimbel

Whitworth’s Ultimate Frisbee team, named “Bangarang” after the Lost Boys in the movie “Hook,” placed 23rd this year out of a total of 350 teams in the country. Ultimate is a club sport, meaning it is not NCAA, but they play in a league sanctioned by USA Ultimate. Each year, Bangarang travels around the Pacific Northwest, and occasionally to California, to compete in tournaments and to play other universities.

In Ultimate, teams play 7 v. 7 with the goal to get the frisbee into the endzone to score points. The team is a men’s team, although there are a few women who practice with them regularly. In the past, Whitworth has had a women’s team as well, although this year there was not enough interest to field a team. 

Although Whitworth has a big frisbee culture, many of the students who come out to play Ultimate have little experience with the game.

“We like to be pretty open about it—just inviting. So if you want to come out and try it for a few days that’s totally welcome. We’re trying to get people experience,” said Daniel Gimbel, ‘19, a current captain who has been playing and practicing with Bangarang since he was a sophomore in high school.

This year, Bangarang had 20 players officially rostered, but they are always trying to get as many people as possible. 

The team plays in four or five tournaments per year, but at the end of the year, the regional tournament determines which teams move on to the national tournament. The top team, or sometimes top two teams, at the regional tournament get to move on to the national tournament.

“Regionals brings out a different attitude from everyone. All tournaments are a really fun, warm vibe. But when regionals come it’s a complete shift. Were still having fun and being goofy, because that’s just who we are. But you can feel the change. It’s one of my favorite tournaments because that intensity is such an adrenaline rush,” Gimbel said.

As a  club sport, each player must pay a fee out of pocket to be rostered, and the team is currently captain-led.

“Every year we elect three or four captains,” Gimbel said. “They tend to lead by taking care of everything they need to do as a club. As well as taking care of tournaments and games and leading practices and any set up.”

However, Bangarang has asked Anna McNulty to step in to a kind of coaching role for them next year. McNulty currently works in the registrar’s office at Whitworth, but she has a background with Ultimate and is excited about the possibility of becoming more involved with the team.

McNulty started seriously playing Ultimate in college at the University of Iowa. University of Iowa played at the Division I level of USA Ultimate and McNulty played for the team for five years. While she was there, she was listed as the third best defensive player in the nation.

“While I played there, our program grew where we were going to tournaments and traveling a lot and we had a coach, which was amazing because we learned a lot of fundamentals and just a lot about the game. It became basically my entire life in college, aside from school, and I made lifelong friends. And it’s been an incredible experience for me,” McNulty said.

McNulty has been going to practices with Bangarang off and on for the past year and has been helping where she can and playing a little with them. Recently, a few of the captains of the team approached her about possibly coaching the team next year.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Gimbel. Anna McNulty, who works in the registrar’s office, is planning on stepping into a coaching role for Bangarang’s next season.

“Since I’ve gotten to know them a little more over the past year, it’s something that I’ve’ always wanted to do. I had a great experience with my coach and I’ve always wanted to get back in that way,” McNulty said.

Although details have not been worked out yet, McNulty said she is willing to play any role that the players would like her to play. A coach can play a lot of different roles, from calling full lines in games and running practices, to being more a support role in helping players sign up for tournaments, set up practice schedules, or learn more about the game.

Because Ultimate is still a growing sport, some teams have coaches and some do not. However, McNulty and Gimble both expressed the difficulty of walking the line between coach, captain and player.

“Having Anna would bring a lot of change. It would be nice to have a main leader. Even though I was kind of coaching this year I was also part of the team and it’s a hard line to walk. It’s hard to be on both sides of that. But if we had someone in that position it would just be huge in terms of leadership, and just getting things done and improving in general” Gimbel said.

Scott Maxa, ‘20, who was voted to be a captain next year, also expressed the positive change that McNulty could bring to the team.

“There is only one person on our team who has ever had a coach before. She just has so much more knowledge than I do or any of the other captains do. So she can help us run practice and teach people and do everything a captain does but more and better than we could,” Maxa said.

McNulty is looking forward to the opportunity to be more invovled with the team.

“I was just really honored that they asked me. I thought that was really cool that they want to learn from me. I just have such a passion for the sport, not only at the college level but at the youth level, at the club level. In my opinion, everyone can play at those levels. I just want more people to learn about the sport, and I think these guys do too and that’s really cool,” McNulty said.

Next year, Bangarang is losing nine of their 20 rostered players. However, Maxa is hopeful that they will be able to get a solid group to come in next year and is already planning some recruiting strategies.

“They also have a really core group of freshman. That is really exciting…we just need some more people who are willing to learn the sport and come out and have no fears. I totally believe it is possible,” McNulty said.

Maxa and Gimbel both expressed how much fun it is to be a part of the team. 

“I have always been a part of a sport and a team so still having that when I came into college was really nice. It’s people you can say “hi” to, eat lunch with. Last year we had a lot of dinners after practice. We would all mob over to saga and eat dinner together. Good community. Good conversations,” Maxa said.

Gimbel also talked about the joyful atmosphere of Bangarang. 

“My favorite part is definitely the people on it. I’ve been a part of the team for six years and the atmosphere is just so different from any team that I’ve ever experienced. It’s just kinda like a big brotherhood—it’s like its own family,” Gimbel said.

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