1987 Regionals Trip from Hell & The Birth of the Flying Horsecows

No one is sure exactly when ultimate began at Oberlin College, but there are records dating back to the mid ’70s. It wasn’t until 1987, though, that the Horsecows were officially established. The following story, entitled “1987 Madison Regionals Trip from Hell” by Horsecow alum Dan House ‘90, recounts the tournament that eventually gave birth to the Oberlin Flying Horsecows.

We lost miserably at Sectionals, but on Thursday night (about 36 hours before the tournament was supposed to start in Madison) we got word that a team had cancelled and we could go. Not because we were good enough, but rather because someone thought we might be crazy enough to try to pull it off. We had a college station wagon reserved already and with Mike’s old Subaru, we figured we could get 11 of us to Madison if we left Friday evening after classes and drove all night (by the way, finals week was the following week). This was before the days of my rusted out Suburban which became the team car in later years. We got as far as Toledo and Mike’s Subaru died (permanently). So we took stock of the situation and did the only logical thing: reduced all gear to cleats, discs and one change of clothes (and for some reason, Steve’s monstrous thesaurus and Byron’s boombox) and loaded 11 of us into the station wagon designed to hold 6 and headed off into the night.


I was one of the lucky ones because for some reason I was designated as a driver. I also knew my way around Chicago, so I spent more time behind the wheel which was by far the most comfortable seat. In the Middle of the night we needed a pee break and all lined up on the road. Sorry Lisa. In Chicago it was raining hard; we were skidding through puddles 6 inches deep. But the car was so overloaded that there was no way we could hydroplane. We pulled into Mike’s house in Madison at about 4 am. First game was around 8 am.

The fields were a muddy disaster. We got crushed by UW, but actually beat someone (I don’t remember who). In our third game, we played OSU (our favorite rivals). A great game, tied at 14 in a game to 17. We were running on nothing but caffeine because nobody had secured any pot yet. Thomas, the team captain pulled us aside and said something along the lines of “We made it to Regionals, this has been awesome. If we win this game we have to play Earlham.” Nothing more was said and we lost those last three point very quickly. (Not to put anyone down, but Earlham was probably our least favorite team to play).


Off to Mike’s parent’s house to clean up. Yes, all 11 of us showering 2 at a time to conserve their hot water. (Mike’s parents thinking the whole time: This is what we sent our son to college for?) Oops, but there were only 10 of us. We forgot Lisa at the fields because she went off to play with OSU’s women. Fortunately we found her (remember, no cell phones back then).


The next morning we decided we just couldn’t do it. If we pooled our money we could rent a second car. Off to the airport. By now we were feeling pretty jolly (and about 80% stoned). While a couple of us went in to rent the car, everyone was dancing in the parking lot with Byron’s boombox blasting tunes from on top of the car. Then we found out it was a $300 drop off fee for a one way rental to Cleveland. Shit. Back in the car we climbed, feeling sullen and not looking forward to smelling our teammates for the next 9 hours. Off we drove…. with Byron’s boombox still on top of the car. To his credit, Byron manage to pull of one of the best displays of anger control and behavioral management I’ve ever seen and we all remained civil after a little quiet time. (The boombox still worked).

I did get to drive the entire way back to Oberlin since I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who wasn’t stoned.

The name of the Flying Horsecows came to be two years later on the way to a tournament at Carleton College in Northfield, MN in the fall of ‘89. As the story goes, the team stopped at a Mobil gas station on the way back, somehow obtained the giant sign pictured at the top of this page, drew an udder and horns on, and the rest is history.

Check out some news articles about Oberlin Ultimate over the years:

Horsecows Journey to Ultimate Collegiate Nationals – September 11, 1992

Ultimate Frisbee Strikes a Pose at Arctic Vogue; Horsecows Romp – February 26, 1993

Horsecows Lose to the Ugly – April 29, 1994

Rabbitlike Opponents Fall – 1994

Horsecalves Key To 1994 Ultimate Success – April 8, 1994

Horsecows Win Big At Toledo Tourney – March 3, 1995

Ultimate Flies to New Heights – April 7, 1995

Big 10 – April 28, 1995

Horsecows Proved Ultimate Oberlin Team – May 5, 1995

Horsecows Second in Regionals, Soar on to Nationals – May 5, 1995

Horsecows 0, Grumpy Old Men 2 – October 6, 1995

Ultimate Team Sets Sights on Future – Fall, 1995

Ultimate Perfection – Spring, 1996

Flying Horsecows Fall Just Short of Big Dance – May 1, 1998

Flying Horsecows Gallop – September 25, 1998

Horsecows Haunt the Competition with 4 Wins – November 5, 1999

Oberlin Ultimate by Michael Doyle ’79 – Spring, 1999

Horsecows Close Season, Finish Fourth in the Region – May 4, 2001

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Battles Opponents, Snow – March 15, 2002

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Visits Wilds of Minnesota – October 4, 2002

Frisbee Falls Short in Costume Contest – November 8, 2002

Newly Hired Frisbee Coach Helps Horsecows Fly – March 14, 2008

In the Locker Room: Bo Strauss – November 4, 2010

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Takes Flight – September 22, 2011

Frisbee Rises to the Ultimate Challenge – April 13, 2012

Men’s Ultimate Sets Sights on Nationals with Young Talent - March 7, 2014

Horsecows Prepare for Kenyon - September 27, 2013

Flying Horsecows Go Down South, Fall Just Short - April 4, 2014