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Ultimate Frisbee Teams at RC

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 Sports Editor

Ultimate Frisbee is much different from the Frisbee you used to play in gym class, and that is what Roanoke College’s men’s and women’s club teams are out to prove to everyone.

The RC men’s ultimate team was formed in 2005 and the women’s team was formed in 2007 by Katie Kurtessis ’11.  Both teams work pretty cohesively with Kurtessis being president of the club as a whole.  

The goal of the club is to promote wellness at RC through club sports while also promoting the sport of ultimate Frisbee.  They follow the policies of USA Ultimate, the national governing body of the sport.

Kurtessis said the most difficult thing about recruiting new members is proving to them this is not like regular Frisbee.  They have to teach the rules of the game because there is a common misconception of how it is played among people who haven’t played before.

“People always say ‘I used to play that barefoot’ or ‘I played in gym class,’ but this is completely different.” Kurtessis said.  “There is a lot of athleticism that goes into this.  Some people make fun of us when they hear we play Frisbee but that’s starting to change because people are starting to realize this is not the sport from gym class”

The RC women’s team has just fewer than 30 members.  The majority of those are freshmen, which Kurtessis shows just how much the sport is growing.

“They [the freshmen] are great because it shows ultimate has a future.” Kurtessis said.  “They’re the most devoted and passionate freshmen we’ve had in three years.  They have a real drive and they’re always asking when the next tournament is.”

The interest of the younger students at RC reflects a trend across the country of ultimate gaining in popularity.  The membership for the USA ultimate, which everyone has to join to play in tournaments, grew 11% last year.  More and more youth are starting to pick up the sport.

ESPN has even caught on to the fad.  They showed the college national championship on TV. last year for the first time.

“Someday people will all know about the sport,” Kurtessis said.

Kurtessis said the best thing about the sport of ultimate is its uniqueness and the community atmosphere is has to it. 

“There are teams everywhere. When I go home to New York there are teams and then when I come back here to Virginia there are teams I can play on too,” Kurtessis said. “It’s automatic networking wherever I go.   There is a huge following with people who have a desire to keep playing.  It has a fun sub-culture and a community feel that combines athletic ability.”

One of the unique things about the sport is a feature called “Spirit of the game” which promotes playing as hard as you can but still being a good sport to the opposing team as well as your own team.  There is a rule called a “Spirit Foul” where if you feel the other team was being a bad sport or doing things inappropriate and rude you can call them out on it to the referees and give them a foul.

The RC Ultimate Frisbee team travels all over the south east, playing in as many tournaments as they can get in to.  Kurtessis said any tournament within a 7 hour range is pretty much fair game for the club, which has traveled to Charleston, SC and Beaufort, NC so far this year and will be going all the way to Savannah, GA over spring break.

So next time you see kids throwing a Frisbee around campus, don’t assume that they are just throwing around without any danger.  Ultimate Frisbee is much different than what you see being played in the park on a nice afternoon.

“ESPN ran an article that said Frisbee is like football minus the concussions, which isn’t true at all,” Kurtessis said.  “I’ve had four concussions myself and just about everyone else I know has had at least one also.”