Cougar of the Week: Neil Orzechowski

Photo: Scott Levine Cougar of the Week: Neil
Photo: Scott Levine
Cougar of the Week: Neil Orzechowski

Junior Neil Orzechowski has recently been appointed co-captain of the club ultimate Frisbee team this semester. He hails from Newport, New Hampshire and is majoring in computer science. He and the team participated in the sectionals tournament last weekend at Bryant University.

Scarlet: How did sectionals go?
Orzechowski: [For] the overall tournament, we ended up coming in fourth, which was what we were aiming for. It was me and the other captains’ goal to finish fourth in the conference. Last year, we actually finished ahead of WPI for the first time in a while, but they were really good this year, so they ended up beating us.

Scarlet: What’s the process behind becoming a Frisbee team captain?
Orzechowski: It was sort of something I grew into. I live with Nate [Buck] who’s been the captain with Casey [Epstein] this year and last year, and when Casey decided he didn’t have enough time, Nate nominated me and Calder Sett to Casey’s role.

Scarlet: Has your role on the team changed at all now that you’re a captain?
Orzechowski: Not really, I’m just a little bit more of a rooter. I have more of a leadership role than before. It really doesn’t mean a lot, it just means leading more cheers and calling the lines, and stuff like that. But other than that, it’s not a whole lot different.

Scarlet: When did you start playing ultimate Frisbee?
Orzechowski: I started my freshman year. This is my third year playing. I tossed around and stuff before that.

Scarlet: What inspired you to start playing?
Orzechowski: I knew some people, like my brother’s friends, who played for Colby, which is a really good team. Another one played for Tufts, which is one of the best teams in the country. I talked to them about ultimate, and I really knew I wanted to play no matter where I went to college. When I came to Clark, I just sought out the ultimate team, and went from there. A lot of people have played since high school, and I wish I had because it would have given me that extra couple years to practice.

Scarlet: When did you decide to focus more on ultimate Frisbee?
Orzechowski: I came from high school doing a couple different sports, and Clark doesn’t have any of [those sports]. I ski cross country and alpine and Clark doesn’t really have that team, and it doesn’t have a track team either. I was looking for a sport to dedicate a lot of my time and effort to, so really it was then when my focus turned toward ultimate and I just continued working at it after that.

Scarlet: And what motivated you to keep working at it?
Orzechowski: How fun it is, I guess. It’s a really addicting sport, I’m not sure why. It’s hard to explain. A lot of people have the saying “love at first flight.” There’s something about the physics of watching a disc fly. It may sound silly, but it’s really addicting to play, to watch, to be around, and also team culture is a huge part of it too.

Scarlet: What’s your favorite aspect of the team culture?
Orzechowski: Ultimate is a self-refereed game, so there’s no referees at any of our tournaments to make calls or to maintain the equilibrium, so all players have to do it on the respective teams. So my favorite part about our team, in particular, is how we have really good spirit. We’re one of those teams who I think are very highly respected because we’re very calm on the field, we make good calls, and we’re very easy to get along with for other teams. And we’re also easy to get along with inside of our own team dynamic.

Scarlet: It seems like the Frisbee team is a club both on and off the field. How has it been to have that kind of support network?
Orzechowski: Really good. As a college student, there’s a lot of stress and pressure in my life to do all my schoolwork and work towards my degree, and it’s really provided a way for me to have fun outside of the academic part of college, and all the other parts of college, so it’s been really great.