Why Ultimate Frisbee is the Next Big Youth Sport

Guest blogger Zara Cadoux shares the Spirit of the Game.

Zara Cadoux worked as a Playworks coach in Baltimore during the 2010-2011 school year. During college, she played Ultimate Frisbee on the Vassar College Women’s team, the Boxing Nuns. She currently captains a women’s club team in Baltimore, coaches the University of Maryland Baltimore County women’s team, and recently received her certification to officiate high level games.

You could say I’ve got the Ultimate bug: I captain a traveling club team, I coach a college women’s team, and I organize many events in the Baltimore area. During my year as a Playworks coach in Baltimore, I constantly drew from my own experiences playing Ultimate when guiding students through a conflict on the playground.

Ultimate is a fast-paced sport played in 42 countries worldwide. In the US, there are over 700 colleges teams competing interscholastically. The sport combines the athleticism and endurance of soccer with the passing skills of football. A team scores a goal by catching the disc in their opponent’s end zone. Once the disc is caught, that player must stop and throw to another teammate. This emphasizes the importance of every player on the field, and gives all players the opportunity to throw or catch a score.

What makes Ultimate unique is that conflict resolution is built directly into the game. There are no referees; instead the responsibility belongs to the players on the field. Discussion of contested plays is encouraged. Player behavior is governed by a code of conduct called “Spirit of the Game,” which calls on all players to be honest and take personal responsibility for their actions. The Ultimate community offers a safe space that teaches a powerful brand of sportsmanship, promotes teamwork, and creates lasting friendships.

I found Ultimate my sophomore year of college, and at the time I was nervous to try another team sport. I had been bullied by my teammates playing softball in high school, and quit the sport entirely as a result. Joining the Ultimate team at Vassar College, I was quickly captivated by the concept of Spirit of the Game. I found a home in this sport because this high level of player responsibility is encouraged. I felt this same sense of comfort and belonging when I joined the Playworks Baltimore family, and immediately recognized the connections between the sport of Ultimate and the mission of Playworks.

As Ultimate grows, the sport is expanding rapidly at the youth level. High School Championships are held each year as well as the Youth Club Championships, which is a national event occurring in the summer. In the next few years, I hope to see Ultimate incorporated into the recess culture at every Playworks school. Some day, I would love to see Ultimate played in every school in the country!

If you are a parent looking for opportunities for your child to play Ultimate, check out this list.

Do you play Ultimate?

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