Knox hosts 17th annual Ultimate Frisbee tourney

From The Register-Mail:
Those who view the throwing of a Frisbee as a casual and leisurely act were absent from Knox College’s T. Fleming Fieldhouse Saturday during the 17th annual Natalie Veneziano Winter Whiteout Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.

Club teams from Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Bradley University and as far away as Wartburg College in Iowa and Valparaiso University in Indiana showed up to compete in the sport, which is part football, part basketball and part-soccer — played with Frisbees.

“It’s getting more and more popular every year,” said event organizer and Knox College senior David Kurian. “We’ve got teams coming from all over the place.”

“We have like 40-some members. It’s definitely the most popular club sport (at Knox),” said Kurian.

“It’s just kind of like a warm-up before sectionals start,” said Kevin Mclaughlin, a junior from Western Illinois University. “It’s like preseason games.”

Though the event is technically a dry run before the beginning of the official season, competition was nonetheless heated as students ran, catching and firing Frisbees down the court.

Also attending the event were about 25 Knox College alumni who return year after year to compete in the tournament, which continues today.

“This is our homecoming,” said Rob Clark, a class of ’95 alumnus who founded Knox’s first Ultimate Frisbee team in 1992. “We bring an alumni team back every year.”

The tournament honors Natalie Veneziano, a 1998 Knox alumna and avid Ultimate Frisbee player who died of leukemia in 2004. Veneziano’s parents drove to the tournament from Missouri this year for the first time since it was renamed in honor of their daughter.

“Obviously we’re honored,” said Carl Veneziano, Natalie’s father. “This was a big part of Natalie’s life when she was at Knox.”

“We knew she was special to us,” said Connie Veneziano, Natalie’s mother. “We didn’t know she was so special to so many others.”

The couple described Natalie’s days at Knox as some of the best and most formative of her life.

“Knox was really an extension of our daughter,” said Connie Veneziano.

The event resumes at 9 a.m. today in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse on the Knox College campus.