BY JAMES STEMPLE, STAFF WRITER
Ultimate Frisbee has long been a game of leisure since its birth in a New Jersey high school in the late ‘60s. Today, though, it is viewed in a much more competitive manner.
George Mason’s women’s Ultimate Frisbee team — named “Throwasaurus” — thrives on the competitive nature of Ultimate Frisbee.
Even though the team was formed officially in 2011, they have already participated in multiple tournaments across the eastern United States. “We’ve travelled to Ohio, both North and South Carolinas, down to Florida and really wherever there’s tournaments and colleges hosting it,” Laurel Robinson, a member of the team, said.
This past weekend the team traveled to North Carolina State University for a tournament. All the games the team participates in are tournament-based, meaning that no regular-season games are played.
The team’s tournament schedule is set by the USA Ultimate organization, which is responsible for holding different tournaments across the nation through the college, club and pro-level leagues.
One of the biggest differences between the lower-level tournaments and the pro level is the self-refereed aspect of Ultimate Frisbee, also known as “spirit of the game” to the players.
The spirit of the game is a code of honor which relies on sportsmanship and respect between players, in which players call their own mistakes and don’t have any referees watching them play.
“The spirit of the game is one of the most important parts that makes ultimate what it is. It’s self-refereed at all levels except at the pro level. They have observers, and even then it’s still self-governed,” Robinson said.
The observers at the pro level are not referees, but more of a watchful eye in case of any disputes between players.
For such a new team, the women’s team has been able to secure more and more funding every year. Like every club sport, each year they present their needed budget to the Mason Club Sports faculty to determine their budget.
“We do a presentation to club sports every year to show how much money we need for the year and why we need it,” Robinson said. “We’ve gotten increased amounts of money each year because we keep getting more and more competitive each year.”
Even with an increasing budget, the team is always looking for more funds, so they resort to fundraisers and home tournaments at Mason to increase the team’s revenue. The revenue from these fundraisers in turn helps fund the team’s out-of-state ventures.
When playing at the college level, the women’s team only plays Virginia teams in the area, so traveling across state lines is a good way to “play a wider variety of teams,” Robinson said. “We are wanting to travel to further away tournaments.”
Before the women’s team was formed, they were joined by the men’s team under one club: Mason Ultimate. The women’s team didn’t practice with the men’s, however. They split the field in half until the women’s team was developed enough to have their own team.
The men’s team helped out in establishing the team, including Mason alumnus and current coach of the women’s team, Bryan Dombrowski. Last year was the first year the women’s team had a coach; before that, the captains were in control.
The season for Ultimate doesn’t start until spring, so right now the women’s team is focused on preparing for the upcoming season. Currently, the team has 24 athletes in its roster, many of whom come from different athletic backgrounds.
Many of the teammates used to play other sports, including soccer, baseball, basketball or running. No one really has any experience with ultimate on a club level because “nobody really played before because the youth leagues are just starting to get developed,” Robinson said.
Even with all the different athletic backgrounds, the women’s team can find success with anyone. Some of the team members could not even throw Frisbees when they first started playing, and now they compete in out-of-state competitions.
When asked how someone new to Ultimate could join the team, Robinson said one could “just come to practice. We are so accessible. We have a Facebook, a website, a Twitter, et cetera. Just contact anyone on the team. We are always looking for new athletes.”
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for people who have played other sports before but are looking for something new in college or still want that competitive atmosphere,” Robinson said. “No matter what, we can find a place for you on the team.”