Disc golf team to play in championships

Four men take part in a game of horse, with frisbees instead of basketballs, making creative shots, bending down and flipping the disc around.

The quad of seniors — Daniel Krisik, Nate Nelson, Case Jackson and Sayer Jackson — are taking a trip to Purdue on Saturday to be the first Illinois team to officially partake in the Midwest Collegiate Disc Golf Championships.

“We thought it was a shame that the flagship university didn’t have a disc golf team to send to compete in the national championships, and we thought we’d change that this year,” said Krisik, the team president.

This year is more official. They have uniforms now and a purpose in mind — a reason to win.

“I saw online that they were covering the national collegiate disc golf championships, and they had it live televised online, so I was thinking, ‘Why not us?’” Nelson said.

If they do well enough this weekend, they will qualify for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships in mid-April.

“We have no idea what to expect because we have never participated in a qualifier,” Nelson said. “Since it’s limited to the university level, it could be easier. It could blow us away, it could be the best competition we’ve ever seen or we could blow it out of the water and win it.”

The men practice with a single basket on the Quad because the only disc golf course is far away in Urbana, so the members scramble to the Quad after class.

“It’s unfortunate that we only have one disc golf course here, which is five miles off campus, so it’s pretty hard to get people to play,” Nelson said.

Despite the distance, numbers have increased this year with around 50 participants who play in their league on Fridays. The four competing in the qualifier were selected before the school year began. The team is broken up into an upper division and a lower division, with the upper-level throwers being those who want to compete. Players from that division will have the opportunity to throw in the spring qualifier if this group does not make it to nationals.

“It’s exciting to be on a real team now and compete against other universities,” Krisik said. “Especially Notre Dame, I’ve always had a thing against them.”

During practice, the players continue slinging shots into the metal basket, getting more creative with their moves. Most of the time it lands on the ground, but sometimes the disc swings through the metal bars and into the basket.

“When you get a hole in one your first time, you definitely got to keep playing after that,” Krisik said. “I got five hole in ones back at home in Sterling, and that’s what kept me going.”

Fraternal twins Case and Sayer Jackson constantly joke with one another, trying to psych the other out.

“I think what a lot of people overlook is the mental game,” Case Jackson said. “You gotta keep the stakes out of your head and you just gotta stay confident in your shots.”

The twins have played frisbee for the past few years and are the best on the team, Krisik said.

“We hated it at first, but it grew on us and now the whole family plays, even our mom and our dad,” Case Jackson said. “I’m excited for the opportunity, now it’s interesting to see how we do.”