Ultimate Frisbee at Western Carolina University

The WCU Ultimate Team poses for a picture after their first tournament in October 2012. Photo by Cariah Orlowski.

“We’re not just a bunch of hippies throwing a disc around.”
That’s the message that Joe de Give, captain and vice president of the Ultimate Frisbee team at WCU, wants to get across to people.
In Fall 2012, Joe and a friend of his restarted the Ultimate Frisbee Club at Western that had been reformed and fallen apart several times. While de Give doesn’t consider himself a founder, he’s “pretty much taken over leadership of [this incarnation of] it”, and is “the reason why it’s still running”, and he may have a point.

The club has to go through a lot of bureaucracy to ensure that they are allowed to practice and travel to tournaments. The president, who at the beginning of the year was de Give, has to go to the Campus Recreation department and fill out multiple forms, making sure that the school isn’t liable for injuries sustained while on tournaments and that the club represents the school in a fitting way. The current version of the club is in its first year, with its president Matthew “Micky” Haynes, and vice president Joe de Give.

The  staff advisor of the club, Chris Parrish, who works at WCU as the Senior Director of Admissions is responsible for, as he says, “making sure that the Ultimate Frisbee organization is following the rules and guidelines set by the Campus Recreation Department”. He makes sure that practice is being run safely and that the students are properly representing the university.

Money is always a big issue for school clubs, and the Ultimate Frisbee Club is no exception. The school awarded the club $1,000 this year, to cover travel costs and tournament fees. De Give wants to make sure that the reason people don’t go to tournaments isn’t because they can’t afford it.
“I don’t want people to not be able to play because of money, and so I always say that I’ll help them out any way I can”, said de Give in an interview. Each tournament usually has a fee of $150-$200, and splitting that between 10-15 players usually helps keep the cost manageable. If a player is unable to pay for tournament fees, the club will dip into the fund given by the school and help get that player to a tournament.

According to Parrish, getting money isn’t always easy, especially for a new team. After presenting a budget to the Campus Recreation Department, “they then decide how much money to give to the team, and this year we got a decent amount of money, considering it was the first year back”.  Clubs that have proven themselves with longer lifespans are awarded more money based on trust and reputation, and both De Give and Parrish hope to continue this team for as long as possible.

In order to alleviate the teams financial burdens, de Give plans on hosting at least two tournaments at Western Carolina University next year, bringing in much-needed money from other teams.
“It’s $150 per team. Nine teams, times 150, gives us over $1,000 to spend on other tournaments and other things.”
De Give always prefers a more structured version of the game. When speaking about Frisbee Fridays, a pickup Ultimate game typically started by the club members, he was visibly aggravated. Games on Fridays can typically reach proportions of 15×15, and according to him, “…the more people on the field, the more chaotic it is, and the less of a learning experience it is.”
Although he wants structure he is always happy to see new people. If you are interested to play Ultimate Frisbee, but didn’t know how or where, de Give’s advice is, “Come to practice, we’ll teach you”.
If you would like more information about the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, please watch the video below. If you are interested in coming to practice, you can check the Facebook group for practice schedules and news regarding the team. Link at the bottom of the article.


Editor’s note: Reporter David McLaughlin is a member of the WCU Ultimate Frisbee team since 2012.