Northside's Growing Ultimate Frisbee Team Winds Up for Another Season
by Alex Barnes
Northside's ultimate frisbee team stepped back onto the grass in 2015 after having not been a sport since the mid 2000’s, when the team was relatively small and unknown. The team has grown significantly since its revival and hopes to continue doing so as it begins its 2018 season.
Ultimate frisbee, in case anyone does not remember from the action packed games in P.E., involves two teams attempting to get a frisbee onto the other side of the field. Seven people can play on each team at a time, with a line up of 25 available players who can be subbed in and out. Points are scored by moving the frisbee into the opponent's end zone, which involves passing and running by all players. The team that makes it to a certain number of points (usually 15) first, wins. Part of what makes ultimate frisbee unique is that there is no referee, meaning that the integrity of the game relies entirely on good sportsmanship and every player fairly enforcing and following rules. This classic American sport is not as old as one may think, having been developed by high schoolers in New Jersey in 1968.
The game is also more professional than one may expect. There are national ultimate frisbee teams (officially called Ultimate teams, as 'Frisbee' is a trademark of Wham-O toy company) that compete internationally every four years at the World Games. The U.S. team just missed the last World Games, which took place in late July 2017, in Wroclaw, Poland. However, the team will have another chance in 2021, when the games come to Birmingham. National ultimate teams are bigger, as each team is composed of seven men and seven women, rather than limiting the group to only seven total players. It is also significantly better paying, as Brodie Smith, a professional ultimate player, has been reported to have a contract that pays as high as $50,000 a year.
Northside's own group of disk throwers is headed by captains Mindren Lu, Adv. 810, and Joey Reynolds, Adv. 809, as well as their coach, Luke Joyner. The eager athletes expect to perform even better than seasons prior, as they are working to build up their team and hone their skills. Practices will take place after school from Tuesday to Friday, and are not all mandatory, but are highly encouraged, especially for new players who need to learn plays, formations, and other techniques which will propel the team forward this season. Although the team is a little too young to establish star players, Reynolds certainly sticks out, as he has been playing on a club team for eight years.
League games will be played on Sundays and Northside will be competing against other CPS teams, suburban teams, and a few individual groups. Due to the maximum limit of 25 players, and the more general expectation of 15 players attending, the team will make some cuts as to who attends which game, but all are welcome to practice. On this, Reynolds said, "If they're not looking for a super competitive team, they are welcome to come to practices and continue to play with other people to improve." Due to the proportion of the team to the number of players allowed in games, there are no qualms with players coming to enjoy themselves and learn, even if they do not feel ready to compete. Newcomers are definitely welcome, which Reynolds expressed by saying, "Anybody can join. We accept everyone who wants to learn or play,” and "If people want to learn, just want to toss, or want a fun sport to blow off some steam, they should definitely join." As further enticement, the captains hinted that new uniforms are on the way.
Practices begin the week of March 26, and games will shortly follow. The season is expected to last through late April or early May, depending on how far the team advances. For information about times or places of games, contact Reynolds or Lu, and consider joining them for practices after school.