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Ultimately, it’s about the spirit of the game

The newly formed ultimate frisbee team has already enjoyed tournament success.

USF’s men’s ultimate frisbee team is known as the Scallywags, while the women are know as the Sweaty Motion. ORACLE PHOTO/SEAN REED

A familiar image to sports fans is players pleading to referees or coaches throwing headsets to the ground after a bad call by officials. Ultimate (frisbee) is unique because these scenes never happen – there isn’t a referee.

Ultimate is governed by “the spirit of the game,” defined by the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) as the encouragement of competitive play, but never at the expense of respect between players, observance of the rules or the basic joy of the game.

“The spirit of the game is what sets ultimate apart from all other games,” said Roeland Reyniers, president of ultimate at USF. “It’s kind of the whole essence of the game.”

The USF men’s ultimate club team started about five years ago. At that time, a core group of guys played pick-up games every week. After the members started to graduate, the team began to dismantle. It wasn’t until last year that another group started playing regularly again. Last season consisted of numerous pick-up games and one tournament.

Last year while the men’s team was beginning to form, their female counterparts were forming a team of their own.

“Me and a couple of other girls brought (the women’s ultimate team) together,” ultimate Vice President Christina Brown said, “and actually competed in the sectionals competition.

“Actually, it’s kind of funny because the guys team didn’t have it together enough to compete in sectionals.”

Sectionals are a part of the UPA. As a registered member of the UPA, the USF ultimate teams compete in sectionals in April. If the teams advance past sectionals, then they compete in regionals, which is followed by nationals.

Before sectionals begin, the ultimate teams’ schedules contain mostly tournament play.

In tournaments, USF competes against teams such as the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt University. UF is one of USF’s most frequent opponents and one of its most challenging. However, teams don’t compete in tournaments under their school’s names. Instead, teams develop their own names. The USF women’s ultimate team is Sweaty Motion and the men’s team is the South Florida Scallywags.

Although “the spirit of the game” governs ultimate, fouls can occur. Once a foul is called, the player who committed the foul has two choices: He can “contest” the call, meaning he disagrees with the call, or say “no contest,” meaning he agrees. If the player agrees with the call, the disc is played as a completed pass, but if the player contests, the disc goes back to the player who originally passed it.

According to Brown, players generally adhere to the rules of the game.”If there’s a disagreement, theperson will say foul, and then the other person will say contest and just keep playing from that call,” Brown said.Brown, a sophomore majoring in biomedical science, said she first got involved with ultimate when a friend in Epsilon Hall invited her to play. Like most other ultimate players who have backgrounds in soccer and track, the only other sport Brown participated in was middle-school track.

“Ultimate is my first hardcore team,” she said. “The hardest part was learning to throw.”

Reyniers, a senior majoring in management information systems, has played many sports including football and basketball, but hasn’t gone back to another sport since starting ultimate.”You kind of need to experience it,” Reyniers said.

Both Reyniers and Brown agree people play to compete, but most players just want to have fun. Reyniers plays because it gives him an opportunity to be with his friends. Since the ultimate season is comprised mostly of tournaments, teams spend a lot of time together and close friendships are developed. Ultimate also keeps Reyniers active and busy.

“I like the fact that there is no contact in it,” Brown said. “It makes it a lot easier for not getting hurt.”The women’s team practices Mondays at 7:30 p.m. The men’s team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. Both teams practice on the Fowler fields. The player selection process for either team isn’t very particular.

“Basically, just if you show up, then you’re in,” Brown said.