When Cape Fear athletic director Matt McLeanWhen Cape Fear athletic director Matt McLeancame to assistant football coach Joe Grates with theidea of starting a team in something called UltimateFrisbee, Grates first thought it was a joke.
But when he had an interest meeting and 100students showed up, he realized there might besomething to it.
Cape Fear recently completed its first season ina Raleigh-based Ultimate Frisbee league, compilinga 9-4 record and finishing fifth place in the16-team league.
Ultimate Frisbee is a hybrid sport that combineselements of football, basketball and soccer accordingto Grates. It’s played on a field about half the sizeof a football field and involves advancing a Frisbeedown the field and moving it over the goal line toscore a single point.
Games usually take about 90 minutes to play, andthe first team to 15 points is the winner.
Moving the Frisbee up and down the field is thecomplicated part.
“Once you catch the disc, you can’t run with it,’’Grates said. Just like in basketball, you can be calledfor traveling, but you are allowed to keep your pivot foot in place and turn while standing on it.
You advance the disc with short or long passes to teammates.
Another tricky thing is this is a no-contact sport.You can defend and impede the progress of opposing players, but not by bumping or jostling them around.
Throwing the disc may be the biggest challenge,Grates said. “There’s two types of throws, backhandand forehand,’’ he said. The backhand, or flick, is the tougher of the two. “It’s a skill and has to be practiced,’’he said. “It’s not as easy as it looks.’’
There are five players per team on the field at atime, no officials. “It’s totally self-governed by the kids,’’ Grates said. “They have to resolve disputes ontheir own. That’s kind of the spirit of the game.’’
Grates had about 18 players on the team as the season was winding down, and there was quite a mix as far as the types of players.“We’ve got football players, soccer players, band guys, basketball players and swimmers,’’ he said,“guys looking to get a workout and have a good time.’’Grates added the competition offers skill development in a variety of areas. “It’s great agility for football,soccer and basketball,’’ he said. “It’s the same kind of skill set with the cuts and movement.’’
He also said it provides great conditioning for big guys like Cape Fear football offensive tackle Caleb Krings. “He’s deceptively fast, and he’s slimmed down playing this, too,’’ Grates said. “It’s an amazing aerobic workout.’’
Krings said he thought the game was a little funny at first but that it’s a great way to stay in shape and gives him a sport to play in the spring instead of going home after school.
“It’s not just going out in the backyard and playing,’’he said. “We get out here to stay in shape.’’
Trace Cannady, who plays center for the Colt football team, said the game helps him with his footwork.“The competition is there but it’s relaxed,’’ he said. He said there’s plenty of conditioning because of all the running.
Grates said he can attest to the last part. “It’s helped me lose 20 pounds,’’ he said.