The Black Penguins started in the fall of 2009. The team started with 16 guys and their shared love for the game of Ultimate Frisbee. We had always played pick up games and intramurals with everyone at school, but some guys wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee competitively against other schools. With the help of some outside sources, we embarked on a journey of starting the first Ultimate Frisbee team at Olivet Nazarene University.
Things started off shaky at first with not knowing how many guys would play, not knowing exactly what we were doing, and not having the full support of Olivet; however, we persevered through the shaky start and we continued our goal of starting a team. At the end of the fall semester, we finally got permission from the school to play as a team and we got enough guys interested in playing on the team. When second semester started, we hit the ground running and started practicing and working out as a team. First, we had a team meeting to discuss all the plans for the coming season and what we needed to do. After the team meeting, the core group members stayed and discussed a team name. We decided to put in Rock Band to help brainstorm a team name. One of the band’s names was something involving penguins and we all liked the idea of having the team name based on penguins, so in the end we decided to be named the Black Penguins. Everything after that was hard work, we did three 7 A.M. practices a week inside when the weather was bad and once the weather got better, we practice outdoors every day for two hours. And behind the scenes, it wasn’t much easier. We had to contact people about ordering jerseys. We had to make sure everyone was going to practice. We had to teach everyone on the team the rules. We had to find out what tournaments we were going to, which meant we had to figure out how we were going to travel and where we were going to stay. It was a lot of pressure and a lot of the times we had no idea what we were doing, but in the end it worked out pretty well.
The first tournament we ever went to was the Chicago Invite, which consisted of 64 teams and horrific weather conditions. The temperature was in the mid 30s all day with 25+ gusting winds, and rain/snow all day. Despite the weather conditions, we fought on and won our first ever game against DuPage 13-4 and we went on to win our next three games of the day to finish the day undefeated. The second day was cancelled, but we took the momentum we gained through our first day throughout the entire season. We went to two other tournaments our first year. The first was at Miami (OH) and the second one was Division II Sectionals, which was our first ever tournament win going 6-0 and finishing in first place to finish off the regular season, but our season wasn’t quite over. We received a bid to DIII Nationals, which is the championship tournament for schools with enrollment under 7,500 students. We had a handful of players not able to attend DIII Nationals because it was after the school year. We went to DIII Nationals with 12 guys and we finished with a 1-5 record and finished tied for 11th place out of 16 teams. We finished with a 17-6 overall record for our first year and we have improved ever since.
During our second year, USA Ultimate changed the format of the postseason schedule to include DIII Conference and Regional tournaments prior to DIII Nationals. Because of this we finished third at Regionals and did not get a chance to go back to DIII Nationals; however, we still had a strong season and we improved overall as a team. For the first time ever, we attended tournaments in the fall. We went to two tournaments and finished with a 12-4 record in the fall. And in the spring, we finished with a 15-11 record.
Our third year, we lost a lot of key starters, but we kept on improving as a team and we found more depth through newcomers. We had our most complete team and that showed with the best record we have had in our history. We went to one fall tournament and we went 4-3. We finished the spring with a 24-5 record and we finished 2nd at Regionals.
In 2014, the Penguins were determined to make a play at Nationals. Through pure determination, great coaching, and a little luck, the Black Penguins were able to go undefeated at regionals and earn a bid to DIII Nationals in Westerville, Ohio. Going into the tournament they were ranked 16th out of 16 teams. They fought hard, and were able to break seed, ending up the 11th best team in the country.
The Black Penguins are a family of men and women that love the game of Ultimate Frisbee, but it’s not all about Ultimate. Being on the Black Penguins means you will have a lifelong bond with everyone that has played on the team in the past. We are open to all newcomers of the team and we embrace every single person that is a part of the team. Because of this family and love for the game, the Black Penguins will continue to thrive for years to come. Even though most of the original members of the team are gone, there still remains the original bonds of the Black Penguins today.
We are Black Penguins!