Frisbee: Ultimate Hits the Fields for the Spring

This spring, Ultimate Frisbee comes to Friends as the school’s newest official sport.


Courtesy of Sam Wu

Club Head Benjamin Lopez

Sam Wu, Sports Editor

If you happen to pass by the turf during M block on a nice day, you might notice some kids running around and throwing a frisbee. If you haven’t, you’re about to start seeing it a lot more this coming spring.

You’re most likely witnessing a game of Ultimate. Some might know this sport better as Ultimate Frisbee, but the official name is Ultimate for copyright reasons. Ultimate was invented in 1967 by Joel Silver. The first games were played by students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey.

The sport would spread throughout the late 1900s and 2000s, becoming very popular on college campuses in both organized and casual settings. Eventually, in 2010 American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) was founded, the first professional Ultimate league.

In a rare instance, the upper school and the Friends athletic department have given their stamp of approval to add Ultimate onto the list of spring sports available this year.

Ultimate is somewhat similar to football; the goal is to get your team’s Frisbee into the opposite end-zone. However you aren’t allowed to run with the disc, so the only way to score is by passing it from teammate to teammate. It makes for a very fun and dynamic experience.

The unbounded yet competitive feel that Ultimate brings has been stirring excitement for the sport at Friends over the past few years, bubbling over this year to where we are now, in our first year having Ultimate as an option for a spring sport.

At Friends, the excitement for Ultimate can be credited in part to the efforts of physics teacher Viktor Polyak. Mr. Polyak, an avid Ultimate player, has run the Ultimate club since 2019. Polyak played frisbee for fun as a kid, and in high school he regularly played Ultimate casually after school. His first experience with real organized Ultimate was during his time at Towson University.

“I derive a lot of joy from being able to throw the disc well and the variety of interesting ways you can throw it, and it’s also just a fun sport,” said Polyak.

It’s that kind of excitement, along with the student interests and investment, that led to Kara Carlin making the decision to give Ultimate a trial year as a spring sport.

“We’ve had a lot of interest over the past four years with it being a club, and the coaches who are on staff already at school wanted to see what it would look like as an after school sport,” said Mrs. Carlin. “We’re giving them a trial year, so it’s not official quite yet, but it will still count for athletic credit, and it will be five days a week and resemble the same time commitment that an after school sport has.”

The sport will be coached by Mr. Polyak and Ryan Anderson, a communications associate at Friends.

Ryan Anderson, who prefers to go just by Ryan, first started playing Ultimate in her sophomore year of college at American University. A few years after she graduated, she worked as a coach at American. She greatly enjoyed her experience coaching, and stayed with it for multiple years. Ryan is excited to take her coaching experience to Friends.

“I’ve been very active in the national Ultimate community for a very long time. So when I got here, Victor knew who I was and was just like: ‘Hey, I’m doing this thing, would you like to come join us?’” Ryan said. “I love teaching new folks the sport, and watching that ‘ah-ha’ moment as people figure out how to throw a flick, or to cut is super fun.”

Ultimate has also gained extra popularity recently thanks to juniors Benjamin Lopez and Noah Sheasby.

During the time that they’ve been in the upper school, Benjamin, Noah, and Polyak have spearheaded the organization of Ultimate pickup games on community days and at M blocks. Benjamin and Noah will be captains of the Ultimate team in the spring.

“I just like how chill it is and how you can also do a lot of creative things with the disc,” Benjamin explains his love for Ultimate. “It’s simple, it’s easy, and just a whole lot of fun.”

Noah and Benjamin both agreed that the Ultimate community contributes a lot to the enjoyment of the sport.

“Once I actually got more into playing Ultimate, the strong community aspect of it is really one of the things that I love most. It’s always an environment of a lot of healthy competition,” said Noah. “And it’s been a pleasure to be a part of that, where you can all compete coming from different backgrounds and be accepted and pushed to be your best.”

Polyak is eager for the start of the season, especially with the community that has developed around Ultimate specifically at Friends.

“One of the things that I’m most excited about is that there are some kids who have been coming to the (Ultimate) club who I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of as people who are super into sports who have come out, and then there have also been a lot of kids who take sports seriously and are serious about Ultimate who are doing it,” said Polyak. “So I think we’re going to hit a lot of people at the same time.”

Ryan also expressed excitement for the upcoming season.

“This is a really exciting thing to get to do. Not just for us as coaches but for you as players. You get to really set the tone in the next six months of what the program at Friends looks like for the entire future,” said Ryan. “You get to set the tone right now forever, and you get to have a legacy. And getting to help you all as 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds figure out what that legacy looks like going forward is a really exciting thing.”