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Ultimate Frisbee Growing in Popularity

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Burlington High School senior Matt Boisvert wrestles for the Frisbee in a game against Vermont Commons School in April 2016. | Photo: Jake Bucci/Register
Burlington High School senior Matt Boisvert wrestles for the Frisbee in a game against Vermont Commons School in April 2016. | Photo: Jake Bucci/Register

Walking through most parks on a warm sunny day one often finds a handful of teens and twenty somethings throwing a frisbee around.

The game is synonymous with cookouts, trips to the beach and college students. However, the relatively new sport of ultimate frisbee, also known as ultimate disc, is making its way into the mainstream sports community as a popular competitive sport.

Ultimate frisbee was created in 1968 by Joel Silver, a highschool student at the time who introduced it to Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J. The sport slowly gained popularity, with the first organized game played in 1972 between Rutgers University and Princeton University.

The sport is on the rise as a club at Burlington High School. Frisbee has developed from an informal group to a program with two competitive teams.

BHS ultimate frisbee player Oscar Felcan reacts to a missed pass during a game against Vermont Commons School in April 2016. | Photo: Jake Bucci/Register

Matt Boisvert is the captain of the ultimate frisbee team, and joined when he was a freshman because of his friend being on the team.

“You used to join the team because it was really laid back compared to other team sports. It hasn’t changed at all,” Boisvert said. “You could get cut from other spring sports and you really couldn’t get cut from ultimate frisbee like that and that’s what kind of drew people in originally.” 

Competitive Club

Junior Oscar Felcan feels that rapid growth has contributed to the competitiveness of the team.

“Freshman year we had a completely different coach. We only had one team and it was very uncompetitive,” Felcan said. “Then we went to sophomore year.  We got a new coach and we got more competitive.”

This newfound competitive attitude of the team is paying off.

“We’re fairly favored to go to states and possibly win, so there is a pretty large competitive component that wasn’t there last year,” he said.

Ultimate frisbee player David Gafner-Bergeron dives for the disc during a game against Vermont Commons School in April 2016. | Photo: Jake Bucci/Register

In the past few years, the ultimate frisbee team has also worked hard on recruiting more than they have in the past.

“Ultimate is really cyclical. When I was a sophomore every other year they realized that they had to recruit because the seniors were leaving. We kind of stopped doing that and realized we had to recruit every year and once you get a few people their friends come along too,” Boisvert said.

Adding a Girls’ Team

The team has grown to include an A team and a B team, and this year there is need for a girls’ team.

“Hopefully in the next two or three years the girls’ team will grow to be something that is not just eight and more like 20 and maybe we would have to have an A and a B team for girls but hopefully the girls side of it grows a lot more than the guys side,” he said.

Sarah VonDoepp, a Junior at BHS, and a board member for Vermont Youth Ultimate League (VYUL) also feels that there is a large need for a girls only playing and practicing environment.

“I was the only girl on the varsity team and it was really difficult for myself, the coach and the other players to figure out how to fit me in,” VonDoepp said. “It was a very bad experience.”

The “varsity” to which Von Doepp refers is the A team.  BHS ultimate frisbee is not yet a varsity program sanctioned by the Vermont Principals Association.  

“Part of the reason for creating a girls’ team in order to become an official varsity sport recognized by the VPA in the state you have to have a girls’ team,” VonDoepp said.

Recruiting for the new squad has not been an easy task.

“it’s going […] it’s hard, it’s really hard to make a team from basically scratch,” she said.

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