Loud and Clear

NOISE's steady climb in the mixed division has been built on embracing one another and the unique identity they have cultivated.

Madison NOISE at the 2021 USAU Club Championships.
Madison NOISE at the 2021 USAU Club Championships. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

If you ask Madison NOISE who they are, they’ll tell you they’re NOISE. If you have any follow-up questions, no you don’t. The more you dig, the more you’ll learn that they truly are the David S. Pumpkins of ultimate teams: one big team-wide inside joke that nobody understands but a select few want to be a part of. And the truth is, their quirks, abnormalities, and Tier 5 watchability is what led the team to success.

“I feel like when people watch us, we’re like ‘hey, any questions?’ and people are like, ‘yeah, so many. Why are you Hybrid? And what’s with the cigarettes? I don’t understand,’” said Robyn Fennig in the team’s press conference after their Nationals semifinal win.

Quiet Beginnings

It all started in 2008 when founder Fran Kelley decided he wanted to start a club team for try-hards of the Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association (MUFA) community. There was already a group of said try-hards in the Milwaukee/Madison area that would come together to attend tournaments and, in an attempt to annoy these strangers into friendship, tabletop each other and afterward scream “No One Is Safe.” From there grew their eventual name, No One Is Safe Ever.

Kelley and co-founder Nicholas Heckman officially formed the team in 2009 and had connections to good players, allowing the team to scrape its way to a win in the game-to-go to Regionals. They only won two games, but that started a run of never finishing worse at Regionals than the year before.

“Each time we’d go to Regionals, we would just generally be peaking,” said Heckman. “Over the course of a few years, we were able to gradually climb up the ladder of all the other teams in the region.”

This coalesced into the 2014 season, where NOISE cleaned up at Chicago Heavyweights and Cooler Classic1 and won Northwest Plains Sectionals.2 But at Regionals, they lost their first game of the tournament to Drag’n Thrust and later got a beating from the Chad Larson Experience in NOISE’s first game-to-go to Nationals; that same pair of teams met in the national semifinal a month later.

But NOISE returned stronger and punched their own ticket to Nationals for the first time the next year, marking a turning point for the team despite losing all but one game at the big show in Frisco. Their Nationals appearance seemed a fluke to some, so it felt like an even bigger accomplishment for the Wisconsin team when they returned in 2016. In a fitting Regionals semifinal rematch against regional rivals, CLX, and blustering conditions that are the epitome of North Central Regionals, NOISE pulled out the win, instilling a newfound level of faith that propelled them to a quarterfinal berth at Nationals.

But what goes up must come down, and the years that followed featured intense rebuilding. NOISE failed to make Nationals in 2018, though Heckman saw potential in both the personnel and the new leadership of Tom Annen and Katy Stanton. Annen had previously played for Machine and Ironside – winning a National Championship with the latter in 2016 – before making the switch to NOISE.

“Tom spent a few years dabbling in the men’s division, just floundering, not really finding success,” said Kelley. “And then he found his true calling in the mixed division and helped us build something.”


  1. Two standards in the North Central tournament circuit 

  2. The only year they’ve won 

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  1. Laura Osterlund
    Laura Osterlund

    Laura Osterlund is a freelance journalist living in Minneapolis.

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