Growing Wings

Members of Wings, West High’s Ultimate Frisbee team, share their experiences with the club and plans for the upcoming season.
Emery Crawford 25 throws the frisbee for Wings to begin the next run.
Emery Crawford ’25 throws the frisbee for Wings to begin the next run.
Sigrid Rossi
The Wings v. boys cross country game took place Nov. 4. Watch their game here.

Every Wednesday and Saturday night at the University of Iowa rugby fields, players start their warm-up drills as the sun sets. High knees. Lunges. Sprints. Then, they get down to business. Frisbees fly between pairs of players across the field. Some work on the basics, while others practice their technique for the forehand throw known as the “flick”. This is the beginning of a Wings practice. 

The main objective of Ultimate Frisbee, also known as Ultimate, is to catch the disc in the endzone, scoring a point each time. Players are not allowed to move once the disc is caught, and if the disc touches the ground, possession goes to the other team.

Wings, West’s Ultimate Frisbee club, has a strong history at West. Established in 2012, Wings is  a seven-time Ultimate Frisbee State Champion and placed 12th in the nation at the Ultimate Frisbee High School National Invite in 2017. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wings’ 2020 season ended early. Turnout has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, preventing Wings from competing in the state tournament, a summer tradition. 

“It really died [during] COVID and then there weren’t a lot of people,” Waylon Houchins-Witt ’25, a Co-Captain of Wings said. “[During] our freshman year, probably 10 to 12 people showed up for practice. So nothing was happening, and then people forgot about [Wings], and then the same thing happened our sophomore year as well.”

In 2021, Wings lost a volunteer coach from the University of Iowa and since has become a student-led club. Wings Captains Sam Abdel-Malek ’25 and Houchins-Witt hope the club will grow this year and are working hard to get the word out about the club. Their aim is to build an inclusive community that encourages new people to try Ultimate Frisbee.

“Wings is a great club because we take anyone of any skill level and encourage them through time and dedication to become great frisbee players,” Abdel-Malek said.

Though many members have never played Ultimate Frisbee before joining, they see Wings as a welcoming place to learn how to play. Avanley Jones ’25 joined Wings this year after hearing about it from friends. 

“I think everyone’s really great at helping out if you’ve never played before,” Jones said. “It’s nice to have an excuse to get outside and hang out with my friends every week.”

In addition to players of all skill levels, Wings includes students from neighboring schools, such as Clear Creek Amana and Liberty High School. 

“One of the things I love about Wings is that you get to meet new people from other schools,” Jones said. 

Due to its recent decline in participation, many members new to Ultimate Frisbee were unsure what the club would be like.

“When I showed up, I didn’t know what to expect, but the important thing was that I showed up,”  Jones said. 

Wings hopes to get back into competitions but has struggled to find clubs to compete against, as many other schools also lost their Ultimate Frisbee teams during the pandemic. 

“There’s a lot of people interested at all these schools. It’s just that a lot of them aren’t able to create their own club,” Abdel-Malek said. 

Because there aren’t many opportunities to play against other schools, Wings has looked closer to home. This year, the boys cross country team started playing Ultimate Frisbee recreationally after their practices. Soon after, Wings challenged the team to a game. 

“[Our rivalry] started when they started talking about how they play ultimate frisbee every couple of weeks, so I brought up the idea [of playing each other], and they all loved it,” Abdel-Malek said.

As Wings’ first game of the year approached, both teams began to practice more regularly. More Wings members began to practice, playing on the fields or inside the Hawkeye Tennis Recreation Complex when it was cold, anticipating the upcoming game. 

“[The cross country team] has been trying to practice every single day,” Abdel-Malek said prior to the competition. “So I think it’ll definitely be a competitive game.”

Many participants of the cross country team also are members of Wings, so the game was highly anticipated.  

“The hype around it makes [the game] a much more official thing,” Abdel-Malek said. “It’s become a lot more competitive and has definitely given people a goal to work towards.” 

The Wings v. boys cross country game took place Nov. 4. Henry Lawyer ’27, Brice Wahe ’25 and Colin Whirley ’27 brought their instruments and played the national anthem before the game. The boys cross country team won the disc toss, and the game began. Both teams competed with high energy, but Wings won with a final score of 14-3. The game left spectators and players excited for future competitions and Ultimate Frisbee’s future.

With the ultimate goal of reclaiming their state championship title, Wings members are working hard to encourage attendance through social media and posters. Wings will continue practicing and competing through the school year and they hope to revive the state tournament this summer. 

“Right now I really want to get the state tournament going. I think that’d be really impressive if we could get a whole league going and influence more schools to get their own teams so that we can play,” Abdel-Malek said. 




Leave a Comment
Donate to West Side Story
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of West High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase Scholarship Yearbooks, newsroom equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Donate to West Side Story
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All West Side Story Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *