I have a riddle for you: what sport is played over a 70-yard field, consists of 7 players on each team, and has similar rules to football? If you can’t answer, then you have never heard of Ultimate. It is a game that has been played for the past 40 years, but has just recently picked up in popularity.
With a new turf field to play on, and an arsenal of new discs (not Frisbees), Ultimate has become a key sport to the camp activity board. This year for June camp, in fact, every activity period has had full numbers (a max of 20).
If you have played Ultimate before and think the game just involves the concept of, “Don’t run with the disc,” and, “Only pass to someone if they’re open,” then you don’t know the sport as it is known here at camp.
Neil Newsome, a member of a Kansas University amateur Ultimate team, and a returning member of this year’s Ultimate staff, has continued to build a whole new level to the game here at FCC. He is teaching techniques like “horizontal stacking,” where positions are organized with the 7 players as 4 cutters and 3 handlers. Working to receive short passes from the handlers who remain on the other end of the field, the cutters can make for quick goals. The use of drills, positions, strategies, and what is known as “marking a man” are making, what was a couple years ago a competition in making long passes, a synchronized game as complex as soccer or football.
The sport is by no means unique to camp. It is a regular group activity at virtually every college campus. It even receives its own highlights on Sportscenter. As of last year, America has formed two new professional Ultimate leagues. And according to Newsome, the sport has plenty of room to grow.
“The sport is so new, that no one has an advantage. Everyone is still learning.” He claims it has been around since he was a camper at Falling Creek 7 years ago, but not like how it’s played now. Last year was the first year Newsome taught Ultimate. Knowing the sport’s origins at camp, Neil has made the necessary changes to create the blossoming program here today.
Under the direction of this year’s staff, the teams have not had any difficulties with experience differences. “We have been surprised by the Cherokees [the younger tribe in camp]. We’ve never had to separate the older boys from the younger boys.”
This year, with the new degree of friendly competitiveness brought to the table, the game is heightened to a new level. Ultimate has received such great feedback and interest that there is no doubt that it will remain as a regular activity scheduled here at Falling Creek for years to come.
- John Granatino