Ultimate Frisbee, a club sport offered at Kalamazoo College, is an unconventional way to combine three traditional varsity sports — football, basketball and soccer. There are two teams: the women’s team Queen Beez, and the men’s team the Ultimate Buzz.
This is senior Kaitlyn Toohey’s second year of being Queen Bees’ captain, and fourth year on the team. She learned about ultimate frisbee while touring the school, fell in love, and has been playing it ever since.
“There’s an aspect of ultimate called ‘spirit of the game.’ In other sports you get competitive and [have rivalries], but in ultimate, … you don’t have referees, so you make your own calls. You talk with the other team about what’s going on,” Toohey ‘18 said. “It’s a lot more of working together and recognizing that we’re all coming together to play the sport and have fun versus it being super competitive — we can still have the competitiveness, but also not hate the other teams.”
Ultimate Frisbee has been around at K for a few decades, started as a collegiate addition to the city of Kalamazoo’s league. The women’s team is fairly new, having been around for about seven years. Because the team is through a college, the two teams play against other colleges through USA Ultimate, and go to about four or five tournaments a year. Sometimes they play the same teams over and over; sometimes they are always playing new teams.
“You get to know teams over the years, which is cool because you get to see your team grow, but you also get to see the other teams grow,” Toohey said. “It’s an exciting thing because our level of play can also be increased because we’re playing against teams which also have an increased level.”
An ultimate frisbee game includes end zones where players catch the disk, pivoting feet, passing amongst team members and movement up the field toward the goal. The game is typically played to 13 points — not to a particular time, unless it is a tournament, where there are hard and soft caps to limit the length of the game. The teams practice two to three times a week.
In the spring, players must be academically eligible, according to USA Ultimate’s guidelines, so they must keep up their grades. “We really strive to drive that into our teammates, like, hey, school comes first,” Toohey said. “If you can’t come to practice, take care of whatever you need to do, like write a paper or something.”
Toohey is optimistic about the Queen Bees’ potential to make it to nationals this spring. “There are lots of new first-years that seem to be picking it up quickly and enjoying it, and a strong junior class,” Toohey said.