Buc Ultimate preserves college students' love of round, air-born discs

David Floyd • Updated Sep 21, 2015 at 6:40 PM

Ultimate frisbee is as indelible to college life as Starbucks, and every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday interested onlookers can participate in this tradition when the East Tennessee State University Ultimate Frisbee Club — also called Buc Ultimate — competes on the university’s intramural fields.

“I love playing the sport,” said Frank Smith, a graduate student at ETSU and the club’s coach. “I found it in undergrad and I seem have a knack for it.

”At first it was just something to get out and be active, but then I fell in love with it.”

Ultimate frisbee is a distant cousin of football and soccer. Two teams of seven players attempt to move a frisbee across the field and into the opposite team’s end zone. However, players holding the frisbee can only take a limited number of steps before they must throw it to one of their teammates.

The club typically practices twice a week and competes in a pickup game with another college club every Sunday, but because the team it was slated to play Sunday couldn’t gather enough people, the club decided to hold a practice instead.

After dividing into two teams — white shirts and dark shirts — the players lined up along opposite sides of the field. The dark shirts performed the “kickoff,” hurling the frisbee across the pitch, and the players charged at each other, dodging and weaving and slowly moving the frisbee up the field.

Smith said the club also competes in university-hosted tournaments throughout the year, usually participating in about five every semester.

“This year we’re competing in sectionals and would love to advance to regionals but just making a strong showing at sectionals this year, we’ll be really happy with that,” Smith said.

The team hasn’t competed in sectionals for about four years and hasn’t participated in regionals since its inception seven or eight years ago.

“When I came here there was kind of the legacy of a team that had performed quite well at sectionals recently,” Smith said. “But it was kind of in a weakened state and since I’ve been here, we’ve worked to grow the team.”

Smith — who hopes to play the sport professionally — is hopeful that the team will be competitive this year and encourages students to participate if they’re looking for something active.

Caleb Hasch, the club’s fundraising manager, said the sport is easily accessible for people who have never played ultimate frisbee.

“The ultimate environment is really fun, and it’s really easy to pick up if you’re new,” Hasch said. “You can just come out here and fit right in.”

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