Many college men partake in various sports—like the usually widely covered games of football, soccer and lacrosse. According to Keene State College senior Andrew Wallace, ultimate frisbee is a combination of all three.
As stated by the USA Ultimate website, Wallace’s description of the sport is accurate. “Combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football, a game of Ultimate is played by two teams with a flying disc or Frisbee on a field with end zones, similar to football,” the website stated.
In addition, USA Ultimate also states that the biggest aspect of the sport is its lack of rules. Aside from formal guidelines, such as no running with the disc and that no player can hold the disc for more than ten seconds, games of ultimate frisbee are played without officials.
This is referred to as “The Spirit of the Game,” where players use the honor system and hold each other accountable for violations.
KSC senior Daniel Bullard said the “spirit of the game is an important concept for college play.”
“I think it’s an integral part of the sport at our level. It encourages sportsmanship and fair play which I feel has taken a back seat in a lot of other sports,” Bullard expanded.
Both Bullard and Wallace made it clear that ultimate is a game of passion and enjoyment.
As the sun comes out and spring time rolls around, the KSC ultimate frisbee team begins once more.
The Owls kicked off their season with a scrimmage against Franklin Pierce University. Bullard said that they did not keep score, but the Owls had a very successful game. He also noted that their official season starts this weekend, when they play in a tournament at the University of New Hampshire.
Right from the start, the Owls will be on the hunt for a season of success. “We’ve just been rolling. We’re hoping to make it to division three nationals this year,” KSC freshman Thomas Ledbury said.
According to Ledbury, ultimate frisbee is not recognized as a varsity sport, but his team couldn’t take it anymore seriously.
“We play all three seasons—we had four tournaments in the fall, we’ve been in the gym every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the whole winter, and we have some indoor tournaments on Mondays,” Ledbury said.
But what drives this group to work hard and push themselves every day? Aside from passion and enthusiasm, Bullard said the team has a strong tradition of influential and valuable leadership.
According to Bullard, the ultimate frisbee team has been around for about eight years. Throughout this time, the team has seen nothing but progress.
“It was really created by some seniors my freshman year. When they were freshmen, they started the club. They were out there trying to learn throws. Now, we have people coming in with more and more high school experience each year. It has been really interesting to see the club push that. We still have to teach fundamentals, but the club definitely gets more experience every year,” Bullard explained.
In agreement with Bullard, Ledbury said he believes this development will continue. “We have eleven freshmen on the team, it’s one of the big outcomes this year. We have a pretty amazing freshman lineup, we will keep the program running,” Ledbury said.
While the world of ultimate frisbee is growing at KSC, Bullard said he thinks the sport is one of the most promising up-and-coming sports worldwide.
“The International Olympic Committee recognized it as a sport this year. A lot of people think it’s going to be a big deal; I doubt in the next twenty years that it will even come close but maybe after that we could see it,” Bullard said. Ultimate frisbee may not be on the Sports Center Top 10 Plays everyday or pulling in excess gold medals at the Olympic Games, but the future of the sport could look promising. One aspect of the sport’s growth involves getting younger children to start playing. According to Bullard, many people begin playing in neighborhood pick-up games or on teams late in high school. He is on a mission to change that.
As the coach of the ultimate frisbee team at Keene High School, Bullard is trying to get his athletes as many opportunities as possible. Unfortunately, they have encountered some issues. “The problem is we can’t find indoor space to practice at the moment, the athletic director apparently won’t recognize them from what I understand,” Bullard said. “That makes finding space hard, but they have managed to find space at Franklin Pierce. Next Monday will be our first real practice and meeting with the whole team. The hope is to coach them as the weather gets nicer and space opens up outside.”
While space and weather may be an issue, KHS student Michael Varno said the KHS ultimate frisbee team is nothing but excited and positive heading into their season.
Varno said there is more to ultimate frisbee than just winning games. “Ultimate [frisbee] is the kind of sport that creates a friendship with the people you play with the minute you step on the field. It’s its own little community on the playing field and everyone just has a great time,” he said. With programs like this starting earlier and earlier in children’s lives, ultimate frisbee players are confident that their sport is on the verge of becoming something big. “It might take a few years but it will all be worth it,” Varno added.
Diana Pimer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org