by Navindra Persaud
CCSU’s club sports program continuously gives students the chance to participate in a sport outside of the university’s athletic department. Sometimes this can be one outside the mainstream sports the casual fan is aware of: like Central’s ultimate Frisbee club team.
Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport played by two teams of seven players. The field is approximately 70 yards long and 40 yards wide with two 20-yard end zones. A goal is scored when a player catches any legal pass in the end zone that the player is attacking.
A player must remain stationary while holding the disc, which is advanced by passing it to other players. Any time a pass is incomplete a turnover occurs, resulting in an immediate change of possession.
Through RECentral, CCSU supports its own ultimate Frisbee team, which travels around New England and the northeast to other schools to compete in the sport.
“We mainly compete in organized tournaments, usually hosted by other college teams or organizations,” said club president Eric Renkewith. “This year we will be travelling to New Jersey for two tournaments and to another tournament just north of Boston.”
Tournament sizes range anywhere from 16 to 64 teams. Teams will often play three to four full games a day; from six to eight over a tournament weekend. Games are played until the first team scores 15 goals and usually last about 90 minutes. Renkewith stated that most teams will get a bye for one of the rounds on Saturday, but it is not uncommon for teams to play all four of their Saturday games in a row.
“I think the sport represents the spirit of CCSU because you learn a lot and grow a lot as a person from playing,” said Renkewith. “Sportsmanship is very important and you are responsible for your own actions and you have to be willing to listen to and negotiate with others. The same qualities and actions you learn and apply in the game can be used as a student and as a part of society.”
Teamwork is one of the most important elements of ultimate Frisbee. Offensively, a team can only move the disc and score by passing it to teammate, meaning it is a complete team effort in order to win. On defense, players must have trust in their teammates on the field.
“For example, if a team is running a zone defense, every one of those seven players will have their own specific responsibility, and if one person is out of position then the whole thing can fall apart and result in the other team scoring with relative ease,” said Renkewith.
There is also communication from the players who are on the sideline to players on the field to help so even when players are not on the field they are constantly helping out their defense or keeping players on the field motivated.
Ultimate Frisbee differs from other club sports mainly because of the lack of referees. Players call fouls and settle disputes amongst themselves. All participants are expected to play within the rules and sportsmanship and mutual respect amongst competitors are valued higher than winning at all costs, an idea which is scarcely seen in any of the major sports watched on television or in person.
CCSU is part of the Hudson Valley Conference, which is part of the Metro East Region. The Hudson Valley Conference includes CCSU, Yale, SUNY-Albany, SUNY-New Paltz and UConn.
The team was founded about five years ago by a few friends. They started out only playing pick-up games on Vance Lawn but soon saw numbers grow and began traveling to tournaments. The club has grown to include both a men’s and women’s team who are highly competitive within the region.
Renkewith believes that fun, fitness, teamwork, competition and respect for your opponents are all important for both the club and for ultimate Frisbee as a whole.
“I really enjoy being part of a team working towards a shared goal. It’s an awesome sport that gives you an opportunity to meet people from your school and to travel and get to know people from other schools,” said Renkewith.
The men’s team is coached by Alex Morrone. Morrone volunteers a good amount of his time to help the team develop skills on the field. According to Renkewith, Morrone has played on several elite level teams and is very involved in the ultimate Frisbee community in Connecticut.
The sport does not cost much to play for students interested. The budget covers tournament fees and hotels so the only cost to players is for their own jerseys. Team members are also expected to pay for their own food and gas money on tournament weekends. Other than those costs, the only equipment really required is a disc and a pair of cleats.
“I think our team is a very important community within CCSU and we have a very diverse group of people who make up our team,” said Renkewith.