Ultimate frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, according to Matt Groat, ’17, one of the two captains of the Allegheny club team this semester.
Groat said the team practices two to three times a week, and many players joined the team without prior experience. Once the official season begins, however, practice time will lessen because of the competition for court time at the David V. Wise Sport and Fitness Center with spring varsity sports beginning practices.
“There’s some level of teaching that has to occur, more so than other sports where the focus is on individual skills,” Groat said. “So we do our best to find a balance between that teaching and improving our team chemistry and individual skills.”
Ultimate frisbee is similar to football: you score points by moving the disc into an end zone. However, the only way to move the disc is to throw it through the air. Running or traveling with the disc is against the game’s rules, according to Groat.
“It’s intense and competitive, but it has an incredible culture that you don’t find in other sports. We have no referees—all decisions are made through self-officiating and a system whereby any called fouls can be contested, and each situation has a solution. Because of this, stoppages in play for a called foul rarely last longer than five seconds for discussion, so the game can continue flowing,” Groat said.
Incoming captain Tori Rollin, ’17, came to Allegheny with four years of ultimate frisbee experience. Rollin said she has enjoyed watching the changing reputation of ultimate frisbee throughout her time playing.
“Those who know about the higher level of the sport have so much respect for it and those who don’t—which is a majority of the population—think we’re just a bunch of hippies who throw a dumb piece of plastic around,” Rollin said.
This year the team has been improving from previous season records. Groat said this year marks the most impressive frisbee team he has been a part of while at Allegheny.
“Our women’s team played fantastically in a tournament in Buffalo early in the fall, going undefeated the first day and finally finishing fifth overall,” Groat said. “Our mixed team went undefeated in our fall league season, and won a small tournament at Penn State Behrend. We also went to a tournament in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where our mixed team went undefeated in pool play, before losing in the semifinals and taking third overall out of 14 teams.”
Groat said that this season he is most looking forward to spending his last season playing with a group of people he has gotten to know well over the past four years. He said the team is a tight-knit group of students but are welcoming to new players.
“We’re really excited because we’re considering competing on the national level this spring for the first time since I’ve been at Allegheny,” Groat said. “It would involve a college series where both our men’s and women’s teams compete at the conference level, hopefully qualify for regionals and from there potentially for nationals at the end of May in Lexington, Kentucky.”
Groat said the club also takes an annual spring break trip that most players enjoy.
“Aside from that, we also have a spring break tournament where we spend the week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina playing against teams from all over the East Coast. In past years, this tournament has been the highlight of the entire season,” Groat said.
As far as obstacles for the team this season go, player Josh Knupp, ’17, said that there have not been many challenges beyond finding people to play. Groat agreed and said that recruiting members is something the team has to work on in the future.
“Our email list has like 120 people on it. We probably have about 20 people show up consistently to practice and probably about 40 on the team, I would say,” Knupp said.
The team will play next in Erie on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at the Huck-through-the-Heart Tournament.