Liz (Dot) Archibald, '16 and Juliet (Raven) Chung, '18 run a drill at Frisbee practice on Oct. 16. (Tori Visbisky/ B&W Photo)

Ultimate Frisbee: a team full of culture, tradition


Chipper Dickey, Olav Broccoli and Pumasauras may seem like unusual names, but to the Ultimate Frisbee club teams at Lehigh, these names are more normal than a typical first name. Between traditions and quirky nicknames, the men’s and women’s Ultimate Frisbee club teams share a unique culture not common among most sports teams on campus.

One of the traditions that the Frisbee teams are known for is the nicknames they give each other. President of the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Adam Kafka — or better known by his Frisbee peers as Kzero with a silent ‘K’ — said they use the USA Ultimate name generator to pick the nicknames of the incoming class. He said they feed a picture of the new member to the program, then the member is required to answer a question, and the name is generated. This is done about a month after the new members join.

“Our tradition of giving out nicknames really helps to bring the team together and creates an inclusive atmosphere,” said junior Emily Wilkinson, known as Dani Burka by the team.

“We only use nicknames,” said junior Taylor Stewart, better known as Peeps.  “Eventually you start to forget the person’s real name after using their nickname for so long. When I go home, it actually takes me a while to get used to hearing my real name again.”

Wilkinson said that as the year progresses, the team has a tradition of choosing the new members’ jersey numbers based off of specific reasons.

In addition, the teams have a tradition of attending Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic every year. The teams also host various bonding events throughout the year and participate in many other traditions.

“Many of the traditions we like to keep secret to make the rookies’ experience as good as it can be,” Kafka said. “We have many other team bonding events throughout the year, but it is best not to spoil them.”

The men’s team is one of the oldest collegiate Ultimate Frisbee teams in the country, founded in 1975. It has a long running tradition of attending national competitions, as well as hosting college nationals.

The men’s team consists of an A and a B team, while there is only one women’s team, Kafka said. The two men’s teams practice from 4 p.m. until sundown, Monday through Thursday. A typical practice is normally comprised of scrimmaging, drills and workshops, and finished with sprints or another form of conditioning. These practices prepare them for their tournaments, which occur about every three weekends. Their tournaments are usually located in the Northeastern part of the country, and they play against teams that are within a few hours drive.

In the past, the women’s team typically played with the men’s team and very seldom played in women’s tournaments. They have since become more independent, and now they practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Goodman Campus. The men’s and women’s teams typically practice on the same fields, but each team holds its own practice.

Each week, the captain of the women’s team along with Wilkinson and her co-assistant captain meet to plan out the next three practices and discuss areas in which they need improvement. At each practice, they warm-up and throw the Frisbee for about 30 minutes before running drills and scrimmaging.

Stewart said the women’s teams participate in four to five tournaments a semester that are typically located in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. They occur on weekends, like the men’s tournaments, but they are held separately. Each tournament consists of three to four games a day against opposing schools.

During spring break, the women’s and men’s teams play in a beach tournament together in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and during the summer months they play in a tournament together in Wildwood, New Jersey. The mixed tournaments are typically played for fun and don’t focus on playing to win, Kafka said.

A normal game is played until one team achieves 15 scores. A score is similar to a touchdown because to score, someone must catch the Frisbee in the end zone. Almost all of the games they participate in are played as tournaments.

“The main exception to this is when we play Lafayette during Lehigh-Lafayette week — and win,” Kafka said.

The main Frisbee season is in the spring, which is when sectionals, regionals and nationals happen.

“We still take the fall seriously because we try to build team chemistry and polish up parts of the game that need work,” Kafka said.

The team is successful in developing team chemistry, as many of the upperclassmen reside together off-campus, and the team frequently eats dinner together after practice, Stewart said. Kafka said that practicing with the same group of people every day has allowed the teams to develop inside jokes, traditions and great memories.

“Frisbee is honestly my favorite thing at Lehigh, and I think a lot of people on the team would say the same,” Stewart said. “It’s something that brings together a bunch of people from different backgrounds, and I’ve made my best friends through Frisbee.”

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply