Ultimate Frisbee, which is now known simply as the game of Ultimate, began in 1968 when a group of students from Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., picked up a disc and began tossing it down a field. Since then, its popularity has grown larger and larger, especially among high school and college students.
Ultimate Frisbee combines aspects from sports such as soccer and football. Teams pass the Frisbee down the field in an attempt to score in the other team’s end zone. The end zones resemble those found on a football field.
The fast-paced nature of the game requires players to possess stamina, speed and agility. In addition, team spirit is an important characteristic for those athletes who play Ultimate Frisbee since there are no referees officiating the game.
The girls’ Ultimate team at Shippensburg University is a fairly new team, and is still struggling to gain popularity among the student population. After first gaining recognition as a club last February, the founders of the team pegged itself the Bellewethers. This is a reference to the leading sheep of a flock. The boys’ Ultimate team is named the goats, so in order to keep with the tradition of SU Ultimate Frisbee, the girls’ team felt the title Bellewethers was appropriate.
Becca Grim, a senior at SU and captain of the girls’ Ultimate team, knows what it takes to be a successful Ultimate Frisbee player. She began playing the sport during her sophomore year of college after she saw a flyer recruiting new players. She had been active in sports throughout her entire high school career and was interested in remaining an athlete in college as well. Grim quickly caught onto the various techniques needed to play and is now the captain of the girls’ Ultimate team.
Grim, a psychology major and coaching minor, has always been passionate about teaching athletes and being a leader for her fellow teammates. Besides staying active, Grim said the best part about playing Ultimate Frisbee is being surrounded by a tight knit group of friends. Before she began playing, Grim had not found a core group of friends with which to surround herself.
Grim said, “I got to meet a lot of people and it was really cool to have people to hang out with and do something that we really thought was fun.”
As the team captain, Grim is responsible for not only what happens on the field, but off the field as well. She has faced various obstacles since gaining the position this year. Soon after becoming captain, Grim discovered that some paperwork the team needed to become a club had not been submitted on time the previous year. She was able to rectify the situation and since then has been working to build up the reputation of the club team. Grim explained how her fellow officers were a big reason why she was able to persevere through the pressure.
“We have officers for the club and we all work together on stuff. It’s not just one person. That really helps a lot. They’re always there and have your back or help you out so you don’t have to do everything,” Grim said.
Although Grim will be graduating in May of 2013, she still has high hopes for the future of the club team at SU. The size and reputation of the club has gained popularity over the past few years and she hopes the club continues to do so. Grim is optimistic that the increase in interest for Ultimate Frisbee will continue even after she graduates.
“Hopefully we continue on this upward path that we’ve been taking. This season, especially, we’re winning and we’re doing well which is really important,” Grim said.
In fact, the fast-paced sport is growing rapidly in popularity across the entire nation. According to USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee in the United States, the number of Ultimate members almost doubled from 2003 to 2010. The largest growth occurred in the college members and the youth members. Pennsylvania is not excluded from these trends. It has the third-largest number of Ultimate members with more than 2,000 members according to the organization’s website. The number only includes the registered members. Many more people play in small pick-up games throughout Pennsylvania.
According to USA Ultimate, “The mission of USA Ultimate is to advance the sport of Ultimate in the United States by enhancing and promoting character, community and competition.”
The Ultimate governing body continues to further the popularity of the sport by promoting it among young people.
As for Grim, she will continue playing the sport of Ultimate even after she graduates and is forced to hand over her title of captain to the next player willing to take on the responsibility of leading the Bellewethers.