Ultimate Frisbee clubs prove the sport is more than a study break
For most college students, Frisbee is a pastime used to get away from the daily grind of homework and studying. The activity is a trademark on any college campus, where students of all talent levels can be seen congregating on lawns while simply tossing a plastic disk through the air. It is a great way to relax before an exam and connect with your friends while also making new ones.
However, to a select group of individuals at the University of Mary Washington, Frisbee is much more than just a pastime.
The men’s and women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams at UMW are made up of a dedicated group of students who take the game of Frisbee to the next level and compete against other schools in tournaments all year long.
“Throughout the year, we prepare for the sectional tournament in Virginia of the USA Ultimate DIII league for a chance to make it to regionals and then compete in the national tournament in Colorado,” said freshman Zach Norrbom.
The club Frisbee teams hold scheduled practices in the evenings on the UMW recreational turf field for multiple hours a day. The men’s team is a self-organized group who coach themselves and elect three captains every year while the women’s team is headed by their coach, Kneil Place.
Place is a UVA grad who lives in Fredericksburg and volunteers to coach the women’s team at UMW. The men’s team is captained by sophomore Sean Fredericks, junior Matt Babineau and senior Kyle Khalifa.
The teams compete in tournaments during both the fall and spring seasons against schools from all over the east coast. The fall season was relatively short this year for UMW, as they only competed in two tournaments. In the spring, the team prepared for the post-season tournaments, which start with sectionals and are followed by regionals and nationals. Unfortunately for UMW, the women’s team failed to qualify for nationals while the men’s team did not make it past sectionals.
This year’s sectional tournament took place at Saint Mary’s College (Md.) on the weekend of April 12. On Saturday, the games came in rapid succession, as they played four games, two hours each, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and three on Sunday against the likes of Navy, Richmond, Goucher, Catholic, Saint Mary’s and Roanoke, who failed to show up. The men went 3-4 overall for the tournament
“We’re trying to transfer from the old Frisbee team mentality where we didn’t really try that hard and mainly focused on the social aspect of playing Frisbee,” said Norrbom.
Ultimate Frisbee is one of the most popular and rapidly growing sports in America. Nearly every college in the country sponsors an Ultimate Frisbee team. According to USA Ultimate, the sports’ governing body, college Ultimate Frisbee memberships increased from 9,951 in 2004 to 16,058 in 2011. The sport is played in more than 42 countries worldwide.
The UMW women’s team is known for being a very successful program in the past while also being a tight knit group of friends who participate in group activities on and off of the field. Although the women’s team did not make it to nationals this year, as they have done many times in the past, they still enjoyed a very successful season.
The men’s team has not experienced as much success in the past as the women’s team, but they still share an element of camaraderie that cannot be overlooked.
“We had a team meeting after sectionals where we named one good thing and one bad thing about the season, and a lot of people said team bonding was their favorite part,” said Norrbom.
There is no experience necessary to be a part of the ultimate Frisbee teams at UMW, and the teams encourage those who do not currently participate in a varsity sport and are looking for a competitive atmosphere to consider joining.
“If anybody who didn’t play varsity sports just came out and played Frisbee we could get two teams going for exhibition games instead of just the one team we have now. That would be huge and we could start something new,” said Norrbom.
While many people play Frisbee with their dog in the park or with their friends during a study break, to many others it is much, much more.