Texas A&M disc golf is gearing up to dominate at the collegiate national championship in Marion, N.C., on April 6-10.
Two A&M disc golf teams are headed to nationals this year, with each team consisting of two members. In past seasons, one team of four players participated at the national championships, but this year’s smaller teams accommodate appropriate social distancing guidelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The four players headed to the 2021 Collegiate Disc Golf National Championship are junior Michael “T” Taylor, senior Drew Fitzwater, senior Chandler Kramer and senior Nathan Crosby.
The team is taking on the 2021 national championship after it was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The team is coming off of a third-place finish in the spring 2020 qualifying tournament, and a first-place win in the fall 2020 Texas Collegiate Championship. Because they have had so much time to prepare, the players competing in the 2021 championship say they are confident they will play well and have a successful outcome. They are driven by their motivation to build a strong legacy for the team, Crosby said.
This season’s success comes following a revival of the team, Taylor, who is the current team captain, said. The team previously lacked structure and participants, Taylor said, but he saw the opportunity to revitalize the A&M team during his sophomore year of college.
“We found out there was a tournament that we could go and compete in to qualify for the national championship,” Taylor said. “We just needed two guys, so we grabbed two of our buddies and went out and competed.”
The four players picked up a third-place finish in the 2019 spring qualifying event, beating top-10 ranked Arizona State and securing a spot at the 2020 Collegiate Disc Golf National Championship, which was then canceled.
“That was just a rag-tag team,” Taylor said. “All of us have gotten significantly better.”
The team routed the top-10 University of North Texas, as well as other in-state opponents Texas Tech, Texas Christian University, Texas State and the University of Texas at last year’s Texas championship.
“We just wanted to remind them who the top dogs are in Texas,” Taylor said.
The team has also been able to draw national attention and pick up various sponsorships to help fund portions of their equipment, uniforms, travel and board, Taylor said. The team does not receive university-sanctioned funding since they have not been a recognized student organization for at least two consecutive years, which is the rule for A&M club sports.
Taylor said the team plans to apply for club sport status at the end of the spring 2021 semester, which will mark two years of the organization’s recognition.
Local disc golfers will soon be able to find A&M disc golf team discs on sale through their newest sponsor, OTBDiscs, a nationally recognized retailer, with all profits going directly to the team, Taylor said.
“We are the first college program to secure a sponsorship with a retailer like that,” Taylor said.
The team’s sponsors also include First Baptist Bryan’s College Ministry, the Brazos Valley Disc Golf Club and Grip6.
At nationals, the team is equipped to put its hard work and preparation to the test, Kramer said.
“I’m excited to get out there and turn some heads,” Kramer said. “A lot of people don’t realize that we are a huge force to be reckoned with.”