Ultimate Frisbee tournament promotes the spirit of the game
By Talia Green
“One, two, three . . . Flagstaff people love each other.”
Chants roared across Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) South Campus Fields as the two-day Southwest Ultimate Frisbee Tournament came to an end. Although the champion was not a Flagstaff team, spirits were high and filled with camaraderie.
Eight teams gathered in Flagstaff to partake in the second-annual NAU-hosted Ultimate Frisbee tournament. From cleats to costumes and nicknames, Frisbee players flocked to the mountains to toss for the championship and bond with other members of the Frisbee community.
Although it was a university event, the teams that appeared were not all composed of university students. Each team was a combination of university alumni, Frisbee-enthused locals and current students.
Teams from across the southwest participated in the tournament, including squads from ASU, UA, Albuquerque and two teams from the Phoenix Valley of the Sun League.
Flagstaff had three teams competing, each a hybrid of players from the NAU men’s Ultimate Frisbee team (El Ponderoso) the NAU women’s team (Giants in the Pines) and a collection of dedicated locals.
“In one of the past tournaments we had too many older, experienced players in one team and very under-experienced players in the others, so it wasn’t fun,” said junior Alex Gaynor, co-captain of El Ponderoso. “So, this year we put everyone in a pool to make even teams so that it is fun for everybody and its worked really well for us.”
On the final day of the tournament, the games were organized into brackets where each team played twice. Ultimately, the championship fell to the Valley of the Sun Rubik’s Cubes versus the UA Moon Crew in which the Rubik’s Cubes took the victory.
“We brought a team here last year and it was a ton of fun,” said Jason Tarbert, captain of the Albuquerque team, Zumba Prostitutes. “And obviously the goal is to win, but it’s more about the spirit of the game. So, we come and try to win a few but really the goal is just to have fun.”
In the rules of Ultimate Frisbee, teams play to 13 in a two-part match. The first team to reach seven points calls halftime. However, it is a self-officiated sport and thus the real heart of Ultimate revolves around what players call “the spirit of the game.”
“It’s self-governing, so you have to be honest with your calls,” said Adam Eaton, former El Ponderoso captain, Flagstaff team leader and NAU alumnus. “It’s about having fun and playing well and we try to take the spirit to another level by having a good time with the other teams. It’s more about the family community aspect of Frisbee than winning and I think that’s how we embody spirit the best.”
However, the game was exceptionally athletic and called for dedication. In a match of the Flagstaff Cavemen versus the Albuquerque Zumba Prostitutes, intensity was high as halftime approached.
Beginning a quick series of points, the Cavemen’s Scott Campbell ran full-speed at a toss from Eaton. Extending his body completely parallel to the ground, Campbell dove for the toss and slid into the end zone on his stomach, the Frisbee dangling from his fingertips.
The play continued with the buzz of the previous goal and the Cavemen were just one point from taking halftime. Again, Campbell swiftly caught a half-field toss from team member Roman Jefferson and with a quick turn-around, handed off the Frisbee to James Conrad, who was readily waiting in the end zone. The Cavemen totaled seven points and took the lead.
The sport is a combination of factors, requiring the skill and athleticism needed to score for the team, but also the sportsmanship that governs every aspect of Frisbee.
The Ultimate players describe the Flagstaff Frisbee community as a family. From bi-weekly practices to potlucks to tournaments, the feeling is once a member always a member.
Graduating from a university does not mean a player has graduated from their team. It is a lifetime membership for this community and that plays into the welcoming nature of the sport.
“The weekend has been amazing,” Tarbert said. “Pretty much everybody who plays Frisbee in the southwest knows each other because we’re all at the same tournaments, so its pretty cool to come see everyone again, hang out and play Ultimate together.”