Students Reach Out After Carleton Frisbee Tragedy
Last week, college frisbee teams across the country mourned the Feb. 28 death of three Carleton College ultimate players in a car crash. The deaths of Carleton Ultimate Team members James Adams, 20, of St. Paul, Minn., Paxton Harvieux, 21, of Stillwater, Minn. and Michael Goodgame, 20, of Westport, Conn. and the injuries of William Sparks, 20, of Evanston, Ill. and Connor Eckert, 19, of Seattle, struck a chord with Whitman College students both within and outside the ultimate community.
While driving on ice on Minnesota Highway 3, the car, driven by Sparks, spun out across the median into oncoming traffic. A semitrailer truck T-boned the players’ car, killing Adams, Harvieux and Goodgame at the scene and seriously injuring Sparks and Eckert. Police investigations are ongoing, but so far they have found no traces of alcohol or drugs. All five had their seatbelts on. Sparks and Eckert were in stable condition as of March 1. The teammates were probably on their way to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for a flight to a tournament at Stanford University.
Several factions of the Whitman community have connections to the men. Some members of the ultimate teams, who play Carleton occasionally, met the victims on and around the field. In 2012, Whitman teams played at a tournament the five had been scheduled to attend. Whitman men’s frisbee co-captain and senior Ethan Parrish didn’t know any of the victims personally, but noted that the crash impacted the whole team.
“It really kind of tore us apart. We didn’t know how to respond to that,” said Parrish. “This tragedy’s super relatable because our programs are so alike.”
In solidarity with CUT, Whitman’s ultimate teams hosted a vigil for the victims of the crash. The team also contributed to a video collaboration by several college ultimate teams in solidarity with Carleton. The project, begun by the ultimate team at the University of Puget Sound, will feature college teams across the country reciting a yet-unannounced poem.
“That’s one of the most beautiful things about the sport we play,” said Parrish. “People from around the country, throughout the sport, not just in college but at the club level or high school level … have reached out to Carleton.”
Many members of Whitman’s large community of native Minnesotans also have connections to the accident. Sophomore Samantha DeFreese, of Eden Prairie, Minn., knew Adams through Camp Widjiwagan, which they both attended during summers in Minnesota. Though upset about the tragedy, she also admires the unification of the many usually separate worlds in which Adams was involved.
“I have a lot of friends that go to Carleton, and I have a lot of friends that played ultimate in high school,” she said. “Seeing the connection between people I knew who played ultimate … and then people I knew who went to Carleton … and then people I know from camp, who I worked with this summer … it was cool seeing people relate to all that.”
Sophomore Grant Laco, who also met Adams at Widjiwagan, heard the news that night while party-hopping.
“I was … having a grand old time, and then my good friend … kind of stops me on my way over to another party and tells me,” said Laco. “We kind of took a second and then went to his room to kind of think it over.”
In the wake of the tragedy, Laco was impressed with the support Whitman students offered for CUT and those who knew the victims.
“I was really surprised at the impact that the incident had at Whitman, several states away,” he said. “All things considered … it showed a lot of the positive aspects of different cultures coming together.”