In the team’s first year of competition, the Oklahoma Christian University Ultimate team is already considered a national championship favorite.
This year, the program landed four Air Force Academy transfers, including reigning player of the year Alan Villanueva and two-time defensive player of the year Noa Chun-Moy. In addition, All-Americans Matthew Moshea and Ted Jantscher joined the squad.
These transfers proved beneficial to Oklahoma Christian in the pre-season rankings as it helped them become ranked amongst Ultiworld’s Top 25, a rare happening for a first-year program.
The way Ultimate is treated at Oklahoma Christian is different than how it is treated at other universities. At Oklahoma Christian, the administration and athletic department are treating it as a varsity sport.
“According to (Coach) Cabrera, every player on the roster who is eligible is receiving some amount of scholarship,” Ultiworld states. “The scholarships are in no way academic; they are purely given for playing Ultimate. The amount that each player receives depends on a handful of factors, including ‘playing history, present skill level, and how they fit in with the team.’”
Ultimate is a growing sport, and Oklahoma Christian wants to be a part of helping it grow.
“The AD and I determined we would use the NCAA DII scholarship model,” Oklahoma Christian Chief Operations Officer Jeff Dimick said. “That allowed us to allocate a set amount of scholarship funds and require the coach to recruit a team within that limit. We allocated funds for Ultimate—membership dues, travel, equipment, and uniforms—comparable to our other sports. Our desire at OC is to be a catalyst to legitimize this fast-growing and fascinating sport on the college campus.”
Dimick was the first person to present this idea to Athletic Director David Lynn.
“Upon arriving at OC in July 2018, I approached David Lynn with the idea of establishing Ultimate as a club sport reporting through athletics,” Dimick said. “I asked Gabe Cabrera, whom I met while working at Ohio Valley University, to develop a whitepaper proposal for building Ultimate on OC’s campus. Our vision was that we wanted to treat Ultimate like any other NCAA or club sport on campus, giving them access to the trainers, facilities and to hold the coach responsible for compliance.”
Cabrera was then hired as Oklahoma Christian’s first Ultimate coach.
“We then set out to hire a coach,” Dimick said. “Gabe graduated from OVU in December 2018 and began his graduate work at OC in January 2019, serving as OC’s first Ultimate coach. We gave Gabe the budget and direction to recruit students to OC to play Ultimate who would not have otherwise considered an education at OC. On this front, Gabe has met and exceeded our expectations for year one.”