When you first think of the UFC, it might be the Ultimate Fighting Championship that comes to mind, and not the Ultimate Frisbee Club. Indeed, one would be forgiven for associating the practice of throwing a plastic disc to a friend more with a dour third class P.E lesson or that weird episode of Zoey 101 where they play a frisbee/golf hybrid against prisoners, than with one of the most vibrant student societies on campus.
President of the society, Stephen Ryder, quickly dispels these misconceptions, but does inadvertently reference the brutality that gives Ultimate its title. He notes that he was “keen to try Ultimate out before coming to college,” having been “introduced to it by a friend who came home with a broken arm from throwing himself on to the floor trying to catch a frisbee.”
Ultimate by name, ultimate by nature.
Despite the physical toll of this evidently extreme sport, Ryder notes that “despite that fact I was an absolute beginner, the club was incredibly accommodating.” At first glance, if you are an adrenaline junkie seeking a less intimidating society, frisbee may well be the one for you.
“The club appears to be a surefire way to dip your toe into a new sport without the added strain of competitive expectation or talent based barriers.”
Although “relatively new,” Ryder notes that the sport is becoming “more and more popular.” A typical year with the society is divided up into “indoor and outdoor intervarsity seasons, each with a mixed number of men and women on each lineout, as well as a mens and women’s open.” If that sounds a little too serious for you, there are also “loads of tournaments during the year that are more focused on just having a good time, such as the beaches and siege of Limerick.” Crucially for potential newcomers, the underlying ethos of the club, “to keep playing and to have fun,” means that it is “open to people of any experience level or motivation.” Indeed, the club appears to be a surefire way to dip your toe into a new sport without the added strain of competitive expectation or talent based barriers.
That said, even if competition isn’t for you, the club functions so regularly that you could soon find yourself becoming the next Beau Kittredge or Brodie Smith (the first names that appear when you google famous frisbee players). Ryder notes that there are “three training sessions a week, once in Santry and twice in Iveagh Gardens, and in a normal year we would have indoor sessions on top of that too.”
Surely if you’ve always sought a career in professional sports, playing frisbee three times a week would get you there in no time?
Professional ambitions aside, there is also a significant focus on social integration in the club, with “loads of social events throughout the year, and even a trip abroad.” While social events may seem an alien concept nearly a year into a global pandemic, Ryder notes that the social side of frisbee hasn’t been massively curtailed, “as we’ve managed to hold zoom game nights pretty much every week.” While it might not sound amazing, a virtual game night with a group of friends certainly sounds a lot better than watching Tony Holohan recite daily coronavirus case numbers or mercilessly refreshing Gavan Reilly’s Twitter in search of that familiar feeling of doom and gloom.
However, as has been the case with pretty much every society, Ryder acknowledges that “this year has been tough for us. Most tournaments were cancelled and we obviously didn’t manage to get many training sessions in, but the ones that have gone ahead have been great.” Despite this, Ryder admirably reflects on “the ridiculous amount of hard work put in by our committee and coaches this year to keep the society on its feet. We’ve managed to get the most we can out of the time we’ve had and that’s all down to their commitment to the club.”
“This is a society which is backed by dedicated people and one which is imbued with a sense of collegiality”
Clearly, this is a society which is backed by dedicated people, and one which is imbued with a sense of collegiality that can often be absent, particularly in skills based college activities. It appears to be a sport which is open to all, and one which is definitely worth giving a shot.
When quizzed on how he would market the society to first years next year, Ryder summates as much. “Joining as a beginner, you’ll get the chance to learn the basics of an amazing sport and socialise with people from around the country. Your year with frisbee will be filled with training, tournaments, socials and just fun in general. I’d highly recommend it to anyone because for me personally, it has been the highlight of my college experience.”
In essence, Trinity Ultimate Frisbee Club offers something a little bit different. It is a tight knit club which is, paradoxically, accessible to all. It provides students with the chance to learn a sport they probably haven’t encountered before, and hands them the keys to a game which, even if they hate, they can play safely at a social distance. It is undoubtedly one of the college’s hidden gems, and as a result of its social and practical diversity, has the potential to be something for everyone.