Chapter One: An Introduction to Ultimate Frisbee

My frisbee team, the Brandeis Banshee, at Northeast Regional Championships last spring

Jogging past the Hudson River on a breezy afternoon, I spy a disc zipping through the air. My high school’s ultimate frisbee team is having practice. I long to join them and sprint after that disc, make a sick catch and spike the frisbee hard on the grass, yet I can’t. I run Varsity cross country and track, and I have practice every single day. Turning my head around to focus on the path in front of me, I think, maybe someday

Three years later, I’m anxiously pacing towards a group of girls huddled on the corner of the Brandeis University club field. I almost didn’t come tonight because I’m nervous about a new sport and meeting new people. But I’m taking the chance and going to this first ultimate frisbee practice because who knows, it could be fun. 

Little did I know it would change my life. 

Ultimate frisbee is a seven versus seven non-contact sport played on an outdoor field. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, played by over 30 countries and by many high schools and colleges in the US. The goal is to pass the frisbee among players and make it to the endzone in order to score a point. The rules are like football and soccer, although ultimate is a non-contact sport. 

It was difficult at first to learn all the new terminology for ultimate. In terms of sports, I had only done basketball for a year in middle school, and then cross country and track for several years, which didn’t involve any ball or object. With ultimate, I had to learn how to hold and throw the disc, field formations (vertical stack, zone, poachy defense), names of certain plays we had to carry out, and how to cut successfully on offense, which is making a move on the field to get open for the disc. I learned how to be strategic and smart. 

Me, #64, high-fiving my teammate during a tournament

Another thing that was new to me was Spirit of the Game. Ultimate frisbee heavily emphasizes good sportsmanship, fairness, and honesty. As opposed to ice hockey or football, which can sometimes get messy, I noticed that my frisbee teammates were constantly encouraging and lifting each other up and giving positive feedback to each other. At my first tournament, we shouted team cheers and high fived after every single point. Though there is fierce competition with other teams on the field, we were all friendly with each other because of the pure joy that comes with playing this sport. The mindset of “I’ve got you next time” instead of “sorry for messing that up” really transformed my outlook on not just frisbee, but life. Immediately after each point during a tournament, my coach always says that the next point has already started, and to focus on that. For my schoolwork now, I try to focus on the next time, or the next opportunity, instead of drowning in failures of the past. I keep my head clear and focus on the future, what I can do to improve, and proactively go after it.

Now, three times a week, I have something to look forward to after classes. This motivates me to complete my work on time so that I can have fun and work hard at frisbee practice. This helps me balance my education with my extracurricular activities. I’m able to get great exercise in and focus on something other than schoolwork for a couple hours. And on days we don’t have practice, sometimes I’ll toss a frisbee casually with teammates to take a break from schoolwork or just to unwind and hang out. The positivity encapsulated by these teammates made me look forward to frisbee even more. The decision to go to that first practice that night may have been one of the best I’ve ever made. I’ve found a sport I love and a community I vibe with. Being surrounded by these friends helped me develop a passion for ultimate and motivated me to work harder at practice for the team. More on that next… 

Use this student discount to treat yourself to a free coffee with the purchase of a pastry at Paris Baguette!

By Agatha Edwards

Agatha Edwards is a rising junior at Brandeis University from Brooklyn, New York. She is majoring in health: science, society, and policy as well as psychology. She enjoys playing ultimate frisbee with her college team, going on runs, reading, writing, and binging TV shows. She enjoys exploring NYC and Boston with friends, especially where there are cute coffee shops involved.

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