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Frisbee team celebrates senior night

Sophomore+Ethan+Burka+and+junior+Adam+Edwards+hold+up+a+sign+for+the+Frisbee+team%27s+Senior+Night.
Sophomore Ethan Burka and junior Adam Edwards hold up a sign for the Frisbee team's Senior Night.

Sophomore Ethan Burka and junior Adam Edwards hold up a sign for the Frisbee team's Senior Night.

Sophomore Ethan Burka and junior Adam Edwards hold up a sign for the Frisbee team's Senior Night.

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While students tend to come out in droves for Friday night football and basketball games, one team that doesn’t get that much attention is the school’s ultimate Frisbee team. The boys’ and girls’ teams, comprised of students from all grades, had their Senior Night on Thursday, October 19, in a ceremony to celebrate both graduating players and the relatively unknown sport.

Ultimate Frisbee is comparable to football in that players have to pass the disc from teammate to teammate to reach an end zone. Ultimate is different because players are not allowed to run with the disc and because there are no referees. “Spirit of the game is a big part of the sport,” senior and boys’ ultimate team member Theo Vargas said. “The players have to make their own calls and they have to settle arguments on the field.”

Another thing that makes ultimate a complicated sport are the complex rules and terminology used. Phrases like “vert stack” (an offensive organizational scheme) and “pull” (the equivalent of a kickoff in football) can complicate the game for those unfamiliar with it. Even the process for calling a foul is confusing, because there are no official referees in ultimate, the sport relying on the sportsmanship of the players to keep games fair.

Compared to other sports, ultimate has rested in relative obscurity; many students do not even see it as a real sport. “It’s a game you play in your backyard with your dog,” senior and football team member Ritavash Chowdhury said. “It seems boring and there’s no crowd.”

Ultimate players will argue against this misconception. “I think people don’t give it enough credit,” Homecoming king and ultimate team member Christian McCord-Snook said. “It’s competitive and pretty fun. It’s really for everyone.”

Ultimate has had a presence in the county for many years, with H-B Woodlawn’s team winning the state championships last year and Washington-Lee taking second. Despite this rise in popularity, the sport is not recognized by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). “Ultimate is an intramural sport within the Arlington high schools,” boys’ coach Michael Klemencic said. “That makes it different from varsity sports.”  This designation as an intramural sport also means that playing time must be relatively equal among players, regardless of age or skill level.

The team dynamic, though, matches that of any varsity sport. For their senior night, the girls team had underclassmen dress as Frisbees. “We had a senior night last year, but it was pretty low-key,” senior and ultimate team member Nora Wagner said in regards to the girls’ team’s traditions.  

This year, the girls’ senior night was anything but low-key, with the underclassmen costumes attracting many questioning stares. “It was weird,” boys’ ultimate captain Garrett Johnston said. “The boys’ team doesn’t really do that.”

The senior night games saw the girls’ team lose 11-7 to H-B Woodlawn, while the boys’ team beat H-B 11-6.  Some W-L students attended the games, which “usually only parents come to,” McCord-Snook said.  

Hopefully for the members of the girls’ and boys’ teams, this attendance will be the beginning of a trend. “A lot of kids start out playing another sport and don’t want to make the transition to ultimate, which makes it less known,” senior and boys’ ultimate team member Thomas Callen said. “But I think the sport’s popularity is on the rise.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Frisbee team celebrates senior night