Five Davidson seniors who took a pass on graduation to go to the USA Ultimate Disc Division III finals in Lexington, Kentucky, got a special shout-out from President Quillen when she called their names from the commencement stage on Chambers Lawn: Christopher Edward Johnson, Dylan Andrew Sandlin, Henry Carl Siebentritt, Patrick Farrell Spauster, Benjamin Thomas Whitfield.
“Our sophomore year, the seniors were presented with the same choice and didn’t hesitate to go to nationals,” said Whitfield. “Since that moment, it has been almost unspoken that if presented with the same choice we would make the same decision.”
A sixth senior, Phillip Lawson Bader, decided to walk across the stage at commencement after all, to honor his grandparents who would have been unable to travel to Lexington.
“He was with us in spirit, and checking in constantly,” said Johnson. DUFFers, as men’s and women’s Ultimate crew team players are known on campus (for Davidson Ultimate Frisbee Folk, or Family), share an intense dedication to and love for the sport.
Enjoy the photo gallery to find out how the DUFF’cats did.
l-r: Seniors Chris Johnson, Dylan Sandlin, Henry Siebentritt, Patrick Spauster and Ben Whitfield remembered to pack their caps and gowns when they traveled to Ultimate finals the same weekend as graduation. In lieu of diplomas, they are holding scorecards from their five wins. (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
Dylan Sandlin takes a strategic look upfield before executing a pass. After playing football and running track for his first two years at Davidson, and then being sidelined his junior year due to an injury, Dylan found his way on to DUFF as a senior. He also held the team to an expectation of excellence that drove the team to strive for better than "good enough." (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
The Ultimate field in Lexington was muddier than Chambers Lawn at graduation ceremonies in Davidson, but the joy was no less heartfelt, seen here in Henry Siebentritt's leap. He scores! (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
As the primary "distributor," Ben Whitfield garnered accolades from teammates for "incredible throws, strong cuts and a physicality that allowed him to get open past any defender. Ben is a strategic guru, constantly thinking of different and creative ways to run our offense." (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
"When I was deciding on which college to attend, Ultimate was one of my top three factors that I was looking for.... The team had just played in the conference tournament where they were the only team from the conference not to qualify for regionals. However... it was clear to me that it was a team that wanted to grow and improve. It was also clear that DUFF had an incredibly welcoming, fun and weird atmosphere." (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
As their classmates walked across the stage back in Davidson, DUFF'cats created an impromptu arch of honor for senior players. "We fought hard and gave it everything we could.... I am so proud to have played on such an amazing, fun and loving team for the past four years." (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
In a post-tournament ceremony, Patrick Spauster "walked" for graduation to the cheers of teammates. "At nationals, we were the eighth seed and made some noise, winning our pool and rolling all the way to the semifinal after playing on Saturday. The final was a rematch with our regional rival Richmond. We ultimately fell in the final 15-12 after a hard-fought game in the rain. It was a hell of a run and a fitting send-off for the seniors. We finished 2nd place in the country." (photo kirktaylorphotography.com)
For more on DUFF’s season, check out Chris Johnson’s account in the My Davidson blog.