Ultimate frisbee: a game of throws

ultimate frisbee
These two dentists love a game of ultimate frisbee.

They play at different levels but Dr Vickie Saye of Hall Vet Surgery and Dr Shannon West of the Belconnen Animal Hospital, both in the ACT, love a game of Ultimate Frisbee.

Dr Vickie Saye

“A friend invited me along to play Ultimate while I was at uni but I was a bit sceptical as to whether it was a real sport. It’s self-refereed and if there’s a disagreement, we just talk it out. It’s extremely competitive but the level of sportsmanship is very high.

“As I got to know other players, I eventually played in the Australian Ultimate National Championship. That led to me joining the Australian team—The Barramundis—and playing in international competitions. I’ve played in Canada, Japan, Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA.

“There’s a lot of running in Ultimate—it’s not uncommon to play one point on, one point off. The repeated anaerobic side of things is something that requires you to train pretty heavily. 

“Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport yet it pushes your body to the extremes. The team atmosphere and the general positive environment is fantastic to experience. I strongly believe that it would be a good thing if more people played Ultimate. You learn a lot about yourself and invariably become more of an optimist. It’s a game where you consistently give people the benefit of the doubt. It really helps you be a better person.”

Dr Shannon West

“When I moved to Canberra in 2009 and joined a practice, Vickie was running a team with the employees. I joined that team and have been playing socially ever since. 

“I didn’t have any frisbee skills at the start and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve become adequate. Ultimate is like a cross between netball and American football. You pass the frisbee between your players, working your way down the field into an end zone to score a point. Once you catch the frisbee, you have to stop running. If someone from the other team intercepts or the frisbee touches the ground, then it’s turned over to the other side.

“Most people throw a frisbee as if doing a backhand tennis shot. Competitive frisbee players will primarily throw a forehand. It takes a while to master.

“On every team are a couple of players who can throw a long floating shot. They’re referred to as handlers. The other players on the team are receivers and they end up doing a lot of running.

“You don’t need any experience when you start Ultimate. I’ve gained skills but treat it as a social thing. While the competition can be serious, there are no referees and most teams go to the pub afterwards. It’s my kind of sport.”  

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