I stumbled into Ultimate Frisbee when I moved to a new city last fall. I knew some of the players and started playing once a week just because it was my best option to hang out with people. Though I’m a pleasant likeable person (bows), I’m slow to make friends and needed the social push of a weekly meet-up. Ultimate is usually a male-dominated sport, so the fact that a couple other girls usually played helped ease the intimidation for this not-very-athletic, late-20s woman.
Not to be confused with Frolf (Frisbee golf), Ultimate was described to me as “soccer with a Frisbee.” In its most basic form, a game involves two teams facing each other from opposite end zones. The offensive team attempts to work the Frisbee down the field and score a touchdown in the other team’s end zone. The defensive team, understandably, attempts to keep this from happening. Despite the use of terms like touchdown and end zone, Ultimate really is more like soccer than American football because there are no long pauses. With the exception of stopping to throw the disc, players are running the entire time.
After playing for not quite a year now, I can say that’s a very, very basic synopsis indeed. But there are more technical sites out there where you’ll get better info about defense, types of throws (I’m so proud that I can throw three now: backhand, forehand, and hammer), the disc weight you need (175g), which cleats are best (soccer, not football), and so on, so I won’t get into all that.
What I want to let my Offbeat Homies know are the physical and emotional rewards I’ve gotten from this sport…
Ultimate has bit me so hard, I’m out on the field three days a week now year ’round. I’ve played in 105-degree (F) heat and I’ve played on eight inches of snow. On several occasions, I’ve been the only girl playing. I can’t tell you how badass it makes me feel that I’m an asset to a team and no one gives a crap about my gender.
When I first started, I could barely last a complete game. Ultimate involves a hella lot of sprinting and cutting, a fact that surprises even quite athletic people who aren’t used to how exacting the sport can be. I’m pleased to say I can stick it out with the big boys now and play four, sometimes five, matches in a day. My heart and my lungs feel powerful and capable. Just for results measurement, I can tell you it keeps me ten pounds lighter than my previous lifestyle of doing nothing at all. I see hints of a six-pack, my husband loves my new triceps, and my thighs are capable of taking me up and down the field for hours without burning.
But beyond that (way beyond that), Ultimate has given me a core group of friends that I value so much more than a healthy body. And because health is a very valuable thing, I hope that conveys how much I think of these people. We help each other move, we share meals together after games, we house sit for each other, we pass on work (a few of us are freelancers), we motivate each other to try new things. I’m biking around town now because a few friends do, even though city biking still scares the crap out of me sometimes.
At the risk of sounding like a college commercial, I’ve discovered that there’s just not much that beats the joy of accomplishing something rewarding with a team of people you respect. Even if it’s just a hammer throw into the end zone for the match point.
Hope this encourages some of you to check out Ultimate Frisbee! Scour Facebook and Twitter, and I’ll bet you’ll find a group in your own city, no problem.