In the early 1920s, some college kids from Yale began playing catch with tin pie plates from the Frisbie Pie Company in New Haven, CT. They even got truck drivers for the Frisbie Pie Company to join suit by throwing pie tins at passersby. Almost a century later, college kids are still doing the same thing, though the early game of catch-the-pie-tin has evolved into something a bit more official.
In the late ‘60s, highschoolers at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ invented the game of Ultimate Frisbee, which combines the strategies of basketball and the non-stop running of soccer with elements of football. Today, it has grown to be an internationally recognized sport – it is a member of the World Flying Disc Federation, the international governing body of “flying disc” sports, which boasts 53 countries as members.
While some argue that it is not an actual sport, Ultimate has come a long way from the early days of the “Flying Saucer” and the “Pluto Platter”, as discs were called before they got their official name “Frisbee” in 1955. With the formation of the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) in 1979, it took off as a laid back, free-spirited alternative to traditional organized sports, introducing a completely new concept to the world of competitive sports – the Spirit of the Game. Ultimate is a self-officiated sport, even at the highest competitive level, that stresses good sportsmanship, fair play, and mutual respect. Players are expected to adhere to the rules of the game and avoid any actions that would contradict the Spirit of the Game, whether it’s dangerous aggression, taunting the opposing team, or intentional fouling.
USA Ultimate (the rebranding of the UPA) holds sanctioned tournaments throughout the year on three division levels: Club, College, and Youth. Each division competes in its respective sectional, regional, and national tournaments.
I started playing my second year of college. Since then, I have definitely fallen into the cult that is Ultimate. I live with my teammates, spend most of my free time with them, practice all throughout the week, and go to tournaments on weekends. Even my dog eats and drinks out of discs when I can’t find her dog bowls. The 15 or so girls who I regularly play with on AppState’s club women’s team, the Nonads, have definitely hooked themselves into my life. A typical tournament weekend sees us piling into a couple cars on a Friday and driving sometimes as far as 7 hours to a dinky motel, where we cram into one or two rooms, sleeping on the beds, the floor, under the sink… The next morning we wake up at the crack of dawn, pile into the cars again and drive to the fields, where we play usually around 4 or 5 games. Sunday morning we wake up and do it again before returning back to Boone that night. There aren’t any school-provided buses for us, we all buy our own uniforms, and we organize everything ourselves. It’s the passion for this sport that drives us. And if you’ve ever met someone who plays, you may know just how crazy we can get about it.
It may be the active lifestyle that Ultimate encompasses or the pure fun and excitement it brings. It may be the creative, eccentric names of the teams or the goofy games we play on the sidelines and between points. It may be the community with its laid-back attitude and positive vibes. Whatever it is that drew me to Ultimate, I have a feeling it’ll keep me playing for a long time.
“I always look forward to the weekends we have tournaments more than any other weekends through out the year. Not just for the games, but for the crazy car rides, the stories told, the late night runs to ice cream shops, and just the overall fun time I know we are going to have. But we know when its time to be serious and play our game, and everyone understands that people have bad days so people are always trying to pick each other up when they get down on themselves or the older players are giving pointers to the rookies. If I had to describe the Nonads there is no better way for me to put it then just one big crazy loud family. I love those girls and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that family and call myself a Nonad.” – Taylor Pitt, ASU Women’s Ultimate