A look into the world of WPGA Ultimate Frisbee
By: Avrel Festinger (Grade 11)
Last year, if you asked me what I thought about the word “frisbee” I would have painted a picture of an enthusiastic golden retriever running through a park on a sunny day, adeptly catching a neon disk in his mouth. But, put the word “ultimate” in front of “frisbee” – well that’s a completely different story.
The West Point Grey Academy Ultimate Frisbee team is so much more than a group of students playing a game. Coached by Mr. Garinger and Mr. Barnum, the team is only two seasons old and has already doubled in popularity. It is one of the most talked about sports teams in our school. But, why is this?
Jiayi Li, a grade 11 student and first year ultimate player explained that, “it doesn’t matter about your ability, teammates just want to see you thrive.” This is corroborated by Sydney Bear (’19) who is in her last year at WPGA, and a first time member of the ultimate team. She wrote that she tried out for other school sports earlier in the year and did not make it onto those teams. But when it came to the ultimate season and she tried out and got on, she was welcomed by the whole team with open arms.
This supportive environment is incredibly special and the team knows it. Maya Singhal (’20), says that she has never come across a group of people, “who are so supportive of each other.” Miranda Butler (’21) seconds this, saying that she plays ultimate because she, “gets to play with a wonderful group of people and coaches!”
Although the supportive environment is nurtured and built upon by the members, it’s also built into the game itself. Co-captain Damon Huttunen (’20) mentioned that the “spirit” of Ultimate allows for a, “balance between competition and sportsmanship.” Due to the fact that Ultimate Frisbee is self-refereed (meaning that the players on the field call the fouls, points etc.…) the game relies on the players’ honesty, integrity and sportsmanship. Despite the fact that this aspect of the game adds complexity, Julia Soeller (20’), co-captain, explained to me that it being self- refereed is what gives Ultimate Frisbee the reputation as a, “soft sport.” But, this perception is simply not true. Players are required to know the rules of the game inside and out, while staying physically and mentally aware over the course of an entire game. On top of this, Ultimate is a physically demanding sport. Adam Ford (’20) explained that, one of the most challenging parts of the sport is the fitness.
“You have to jump high, be agile, and dive for the frisbee.” Julia Soeller explains, “it comes down to grit.” Julia plays volleyball, basketball, track and has been scouted for division one schools in the United States. She would not be playing Ultimate if it were a walk in the park. She declares that “Ultimate is just as physically and mentally demanding as playing volleyball at the highest level.”
Earlier in the month, Julia broke her collarbone during the team’s second game of the season. In many sports losing a star player, and co-captain would be profoundly discouraging. But, instead of feeling defeated, the Ultimate team lifted Julia up, sending her flowers, chocolate and a giant get-well-soon card. At the end of the day, this a team that feeds off of each other’s energy. From huddles and chants led by Harrison Hunter-Walsh (’19) before games, to barbecues at tournaments, Ultimate is a sport all about community and our Wolves demonstrate this with great pride.
As you’re nearing the end of this article, a question may cross your mind. Why is Ultimate called ultimate and not simply “frisbee.” Jiayi Li answers this perfectly. “Because, ultimately it’s the best.”