North Texas Daily

Ultimate Frisbee trying to return to past glory

Ultimate Frisbee trying to return to past glory

Ultimate Frisbee trying to return to past glory
April 20
23:25 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

Vice president of the Ultimate Disc Club and marketing senior Johnathon Kortland wants to get rid of a misconception: the sport requires no athletic ability. Like any other sport, there are still practices, high-intensity matches and injuries

“A lot of people imagine seven stoned hippies running around, which isn’t the case,” Kortland said. “And they’ll ask, ‘You play disc golf?’ No, I bust my a— for six hours. If people just came out and saw what we do, I think their perception of us would completely change.”

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport of its own, but many members on the UNT club team compare it to soccer. The game is played on a field similar to that of football, and each match begins witha “pull,” which resembles a kickoff. There are 14 players on the field at a time, seven from each team, and the objective is to simply move the frisbee down the field, catching it in the end zone to score. Play is continuous, with stops occurring only for halftime and substitutions. Matches are played until one team scores 15 points, which usually takes around 90 minutes to two hours.

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Mechanical and energy engineering freshman William Jackson throws the Frisbee downfield while being guarded by a Southern Methodist University defender.

“There is a ton of running involved. It’s very fast paced,”  Kortland said. “In fact, there’s probably more running in ultimate than in soccer. The one difference is in soccer, it’s sort of the same pace, whereas in ultimate, there’s more sprinting involved and a guy can just get a burst of speed and take off down the field.”

The UNT Ultimate Disc Team was established in 2005 by Peter Palacio and his friends, brothers Kevin and David Richardson. Around that time, the sport wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, and sometimes the team would have trouble finding opponents.

Now, Ultimate Frisbee has become a nationwide fad, with many colleges boasting programs. The North Texas Men’s Ultimate Disc team competes against powerhouse schools like Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University and Baylor University on a yearly basis. History junior and club president Douglas Fenderson said the team just finished its season and is looking to build off some of its experiences.

“We didn’t advance to regionals this year, but we’re going to get better,” Fenderson said. “Back in 2008 and 2009 when this team made nationals, everyone knew about UNT and it was a big deal if you played on the ultimate team. But I feel like that team got complacent and became okay with where they were at. There wasn’t enough focus on recruiting. Now, we have a ton of talented, athletic freshmen and I think we can be a force in the coming years.”

Even though the team did not win at Nationals in 2008 and 2009, history senior Micah Rehfuss said it is an incredible accomplishment to even get to compete at the national level.

“Just getting to go to nationals is a feat because the top 12 teams make it. So even if you don’t win, you’re still one of the top teams in the entire country,” Rehfuss said. “But ultimate, it can get dangerous. People have gotten concussions, separated shoulders, broken collarbones. One guy even tore his MCL. I myself have had two concussions from playing Frisbee.”

The club is sponsored by the Pohl Recreation Center, which provides the team with funding for uniforms, equipment and travel expenses. The team is among the top funded club sports on campus. Fenderson said the rec center gave them more than $5,000 this year. The frisbee team does not share many of the funding constraints of other clubs.

“It is a symbiotic relationship between us and the rec center,” Fenderson said. “We do a good job of handing down leadership within the club. And, more importantly, we have a fantastic relationship with the UNT Rec Sports department.”

With the right support, the team remains focused on getting better and bringing the team back to national prominence.

“At the end of the day, we want to build the team and get back to where we were six, seven years ago,” Fenderson said.

Featured Image: Sociology freshman Ian Ambrose hurls the disc during a match against Southern Methodist University on April 11. The North Texas Sectionals were held at the UNT Complex Facility on Prairie Street. Photos courtesy of Steven Byars

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