Tossing a frisbee on the quad feels like a quintessential college activity. It’s one of those things you see in movies, only to find out that it really happens. There’s something casual and accessible that makes the activity almost universally liked.
But for some, it isn’t so casual. Since around 1986, UR Men’s Ultimate has made a typical college game into a sport. The team, called the Piggies instead of the Yellowjackets (unique names are a theme for Ultimate teams, according to junior and Captain Christian Tolfa), travels to tournaments three or four times a season. The spring season counts toward rankings which then build into sectionals, regionals, and, if they qualify, a national tournament. The fall season is about learning and preparation.
During tournaments, the team plays four games a day, with one bye week to rest. The fatigue can be considerable. Tolfa described one way the team manages this: “Because it’s so tiring, you’re playing for an hour-fifteen, an hour and a half every game […] we have to bring a large team.”
Another tactic to keep the team fresh is substituting different lines. Lines are groups of seven players who substitute for each other during breaks in play. There are no live subs, but at the end of each point (scored by getting the disc into the opposition’s endzone) teams will switch out an entire line. Most are focused on offense or defense, where offense focuses on scoring, and defense tries to stifle attacks and tire out the other team.
The team practices under the lights twice a week. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., they cover Towers Field with drills and scrimmages, tossing discs 40, 50, or 60 yards. The captains, Tolfa and fellow Juniors Webster Kehoe and Nicholas Cimaszewski, run practice using calm encouragement and constructive criticism.
Some players started in high school — Rochester in particular has a lot of teams at that level. Many, like Tolfa, come from other sports and are interested in the casual camaraderie of the team. Others come with little to no athletic background and just want to have fun. “It doesn’t matter [what experience] you have,” said junior Hanna Saba. “If you put in the time, and enjoy playing Ultimate you will get better […] and you will contribute to the team.”