Ultimate Frisbee team places fourth in Las Vegas tournament

Though the game of Ultimate Frisbee is not a NCAA sanctioned sport, that doesn’t deny the fact that the game “Ultimate” is starting to gain a following among many colleges across the nation.

“Ultimate is the fastest growing college sport right now,” sophomore and club president Barry Katz said. “There are approximately 350 colleges that have some sort of Ultimate team.”

The University of Miami is home to an ultimate team by the name of the “Willy Willies,” a name chosen from an Australian term for a dirt devil or swirling wind.

“Generally Ultimate teams adopt another nickname outside their schools,” senior captain Matt Dingerdissen said.

There are 25 players on the UM team, which consists of mostly freshman and sophomores. Katz believes that the young team will be a benefit for the development of the program.

The Willy Willies are members of the Ultimate Players Association (UPA), which is the governing body for the game of Ultimate that is a non-profit, student run organization.

UPA also is the sponsor of various tournaments throughout the country, including the most recent tournament attended by the Willy Willies in Las Vegas from Feb. 9 through Feb. 11.

“It was probably the most organized tournament that we have been to,” Katz said. “It also is the biggest tournament with schools coming from all over the country.”

A total of 64 teams participated in two divisions with each team playing three games apiece each day of the competition. The Willy Willies, who competed in the second division, placed fourth out of the 32 teams in their division.

“We did a lot better than we thought we would,” Dingerdissen said. “We could be a really great team, and hopefully this momentum will serve us well at South Carolina in a couple of weeks.”

One unique element in the game of Ultimate is that the game is conducted without any type of official referees.

“I think it has the potential to become an NCAA sport, but the one thing holding Ultimate back is that it is self officiated, which to some lacks legitimacy,” Dingerdissen said. “But I think that is what makes the sport cool.”

In addition to not being a sanctioned NCAA sport, it is not considered an intramural sport at UM, since there is only one team that plays competitively outside of the school.

“We take a backseat to IM sports,” Dingerdissen said.

Those who play Ultimate believe that it is just like any other sport and requires practice, discipline and a level of skill in order to be a successful team.

“It is pretty much like every other sport, but in Ultimate it is not necessarily about being the fastest player out there but rather the quickest,” junior player Chris Mazur said. “It is definitely a more conditioned regiment. It is basically an hour and a half of constant running.”

The presence of an Ultimate team on campus has also attracted prospective students to take a closer look at UM and what it has to offer.

“We definitely don’t have the biggest talent pool to draw from like the northeast,” Katz said. “But, a high school junior in Texas wants to come to UM because we have an Ultimate Frisbee team.”.

Ben Brislawn may be contacted at b.brislawn@umiami.edu.