Emerson Skunks seek to expand community this season

The+Skunks+were+officially+recognized+on+campus+as+an+organization+in+2019.

Photo: Elaina Bolanos

The Skunks were officially recognized on campus as an organization in 2019.

By Leo Kagan, Staff Writer

As the fall semester kicks off and the temperature begins to mellow out, Emerson’s ultimate frisbee team, the Skunks, reclaims its spot on the baseball field in the Boston Commons for another year of tossing around the disc.

The team—which has been at Emerson since 2016 and was officially recognized in 2019—has struggled to find games and tournaments to participate in over the last few seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The height of the Skunks’ success was in the 2019 season when they won the Division B Mixed College Regional Championship and placed second in the mixed division at the Lobster Pot Ultimate Tournament, one of the biggest ultimate tournaments in the northeast. 

Over the last few years, however, between higher rates of team turnover and limited playing time, the Skunks have enjoyed less success on the field. Despite that, they’ve committed to improving things off the field. The team, enjoying the sun shining on the Commons before their first get-together on Friday, acknowledged they changed how they choose their leaders last semester. 

“We amended our constitution to increase the number of roles on the E-board,” team president Truman Segal said. “[We want] to divide things in a more equitable way and to make roles democratic instead of appointed.”

The Skunks hope to expand their team, which has been growing steadily larger over the last several years. 

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“My freshman year, our team had a maximum of 30 people, maybe less,” said co-captain Jamie Leuchs-Curtis. “Last year, we had about 45 people on the team. This year, we’re expecting closer to 50.”

Along with growing its numbers, the team is placing a new focus on inclusivity in hopes of diversifying its roster. 

“A big goal of ours is increasing the number of people of color and non-men on the team,” said Segal. “We want to have a more diverse presence at the school and keep bringing a more diverse group of people to the sport.”

“We’re working to support those groups,” added co-captain Emma Sawyer, “as well as providing the support systems that are required to serve those groups.” 

Turnout at this year’s first practice was high, with 60 people coming to play—more than half of them new to the Skunks. Among those new faces was sophomore marketing communications major Anthony Hong, who wanted to join the Skunks last semester but was unable due to scheduling conflicts. Hong said that for him, the reward of playing with the Skunks will be the athletic improvement he sees from practice.

Photo: Elaina Bolanos
The Skunks had close to 60 players attend their first practice on Sept. 9 following the Org Fair.

“You have to practice a lot,” Hong said. “[I’m here] to put effort in and get positive results out of it. It’s very enjoyable, the process of training to be better.”

Senior theater education and performance major Jon Luke Lassa—who has been part of the team since his first year at Emerson—said he joined because of the welcoming atmosphere the Skunks provided from day one. 

“This was definitely the first big school community that I got to be a part of,” said Lassa. “[The team] said ‘just come to the Boston Common and play catch and see what happens.’ I met like 30 people that first day. It’s crazy how many of those people I still see four or five times a week.”

“I’ve been on the team for four years now,” Lassa continued. “We’ve been to a bunch of different tournaments and have gotten to travel all over the Northeast… it’s been really, really awesome.”

The Skunks believe that now, free of many of the college’s COVID-19 regulations, it will be easier to connect in person and re-form the tight-knit community the team became known for over the past few years. 

“It’s our first non-COVID year in two years,” said Leuchs-Curtis. “That’s going to be huge in terms of having a lot more team events and things outside of practice.”

The Skunks stayed connected through the pandemic, but they’ve learned that it’s much easier to build relationships in person and without masks. 

“Team bonding is just so much easier when we don’t have as many of those restrictions,” said Sawyer. “[It] just means that we can do things like go to the dining hall after practice together and really get to know players on the team better.”

At the core of it all, the Skunks have a simple goal to achieve this year—one they achieved during the pandemic and also hope to accomplish again this year. 

“We just want to have a fun year,” said Leuchs-Curtis. 

The Skunks look forward to building their community and becoming more diverse, and having fun as they kick off their practice schedule. Their next big events will be the Lemony Fresh Fall Classic Tournament, taking place in East Greenwich, Rhode Island on Oct. 9, and the Lobster Pot Ultimate Tournament, which will be held in South Portland, Maine, between Oct. 22 and 23.