Ultimate Frisbee gaines popularity, momentum as competitive club sport
Ultimate Frisbee is an up-and-coming competitive sport across the United States, a fact which couldn’t be more evident than here on the Luther campus. This past weekend many of Luther’s players traveled to Grinnell College for their first tournament of the year, and returned with high hopes for the approaching season.
“I’m excited for the Grinnell tournament because it’s a great opportunity to give newer players a chance to compete,” women’s coach Kelsey Anderson (‘11) said beforehand. “Spring is our competitive season, and this fall is like a long, intense preseason. It’s a perfect time for new students to learn the game and go to a couple tournaments with no pressure.”
The Ultimate program incorporates the Grinnell tournament as part of a try-out process that extends into the fall, beginning during orientation week with games on the library lawn to raise interest and awareness. The practices eventually become more serious and team chemistry on the field is taken into account, which is why a tournament atmosphere is important.
“It was really exciting because it was my first tournament,” Cady Buche (‘15) said. “The rhythm of the game really clicked for me.”
Buche hopes to play for Freya, the women’s team.
LUFDA and Pound are the men’s Ultimate teams, equitable to Varsity and JV, respectively. LUFDA was ranked 15th in the nation among Division I last year, tying for fifth at the national tournament. However, all teams compete nationally.
“Pound is hoping to play at Division III Nationals this year, so [the Grinnell tournament] was a good chance to develop all players,” LUFDA player Adam Winter (‘14) said.
Winter played Ultimate in high school and is pleased to see more incoming first-years with experience.
“Even though it’s considered a club sport, a lot of people come to Luther because of Frisbee, wanting to seriously compete like any [student-athlete] would for any other sport,” Winter said.
As a coach, Anderson is also excited to see Ultimate grow on the high school level.
“It’s helping the program [at Luther] grow faster and stronger to have experienced players come in,” Anderson said. “This past year is the first time we’ve had a coach or anybody with experience actually leading practices and organizing tournaments. It used to be all the captain’s doing because it’s a club sport.”
Although increasingly competitive, the teams are still recruiting anyone who is interested, even if just for fun.
“I was really just looking for a way to get more involved and meet people, and it’s a great way to stay in shape, too,” Ali Smith (‘15) said. “I love the team aspect of it, like how we eat dinner together after practice.”
Smith said she would encourage anyone to join, experienced or not, since the program will continue to welcome players for the next few weeks.
As LUFDA captain Josh Johnson (‘14) summarized: “Come play. Seriously, it’s a good time.”