Ultimate: More than pick-up games

Lauren Roberts

Seth Elliot, sophomore in computer science, at Utlimate practice Monday evening on the free play field. Photo by Lauren Roberts
Seth Elliot, sophomore in computer science, at Utlimate practice Monday evening on the free play field. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Ultimate combines elements of football, soccer and basketball into one sport and has evolved in the last five years from a series of pick-up games to serious matches with players practicing every Monday and Tuesday.

Joel Smith, senior in mass communication, joined the Tuesday/Thursday pick-up games on the quad when he was a freshman in 2009. Now, he’s the captain of MSU’s club team, Calvary.

“I looked up on YouTube how to throw the Frisbee. That’s how I discovered all these other highlight reels from other schools and I started seeing all the big plays they would do and was like that’s really exciting,” Smith said. “I started showing everyone else that we played with about all these other things and we found out what the governing body of Ultimate was and we connected them and we got it started that way.”

In the spring of 2010, the Ultimate Club was created, and in the fall of 2010 the club held its first tryouts.

The governing body USA Ultimate has rankings for members and a national tournament. The cost of membership is $50 per player and the team must be officially registered by the university.

Ryan Luig, freshman in computer science, said, “I was a junior in high school and one of my friends wanted to go and play pick-up. We played a couple times junior year and towards the end of senior year and all through the summer we played pick-up once a week. One of the other captains heard that we played pick-up and joined us and brought Joel too. We didn’t know all the rules just the basics. I knew it was a young program and I knew that other teams would have more experience than us. We would kind of be the underdogs wherever we went. I knew it would be a lot of hard work to try to be competitive.”

The team has improved since the days when they played pick-up in the quad.

“I remember our first tournament. We somehow won one game but the rest of the games were pretty embarrassing and our second tournament was at UT and our first game was against Gonzaga and we had no idea what we were doing. We lost 13-1,” Luig said. “Our skill level now is much better, we’ve all gotten better.”

Andrew Cantwell, freshman in pre-pharmacy, also started playing Ultimate in high school in the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

Cantwell said, “It started getting more competitive for me when I was playing pick-up with older guys that played. I played 13 seasons of sports at a small school in soccer, basketball, track and cross country and I wanted to continue that competitive drive.”

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