Ultimate Frisbee Seeks New Members to Establish Official Team

As the sport gains national attention throughout public schools grounds and university campuses, the largest co-ed sport seeks official sports designation to strengthen program


Elianno Bowen-Burt

The Ultimate Frisbee team poses for a photo. The team’s favorite spots to play are Bates Field, Longfellow, and Scott Park.

Haileigh Steffen, Executive Editor

Ultimate Frisbee team captains Elianno Bowen-Burt ‘22 and Patrick Sarsfield ‘22 believe their sport is particularly friendly to newcomers. They encourage interested students to take a chance this late spring by joining their practices.

“I think when it comes down to it, [ultimate frisbee] is easy to learn,” Bowen-Burt said. “It doesn’t take much to get the hang of it. When we are at our practices or whenever we play, we try to work on dynamics and the technicality of [the sport] so that new people can start getting the hang of the game and will come back for more.” 

Since ultimate frisbee is one of the only official co-ed sports, inclusivity is an important part of the game. Beyond that, the captains agreed that the surrounding community offers a multitude of resources for beginners in the sport. 

“There’s a lot of disc inclusivity around Iowa City,” Sarsfield said. “We try to incorporate other people into our practices and expand outside of City High to make sure we stay active with the game and increase interest around the game. I don’t want people to think that because they’ve never played or they don’t know anything, they can’t come to learn, because we would love to help teach newcomers.”

The team won second in the state last year. Additionally, Sarsfield and Bowen-Burt agree that student participation is at a high this coming year, making for a promising season. The team has started their unofficial practices, which will continue until the official start of their season in late spring. The ultimate frisbee team will start competitions in the summer, in which they will go head to head with other high schools throughout Iowa. Teams compete in a big tournament at the end of the academic year. Additionally the team scrimmages against local high schools like West High School.

“The year before COVID-19, we tried to get a team going and it just kind of fell apart. Last year, we did it again and it worked pretty well. We had a good turnout for most of the year,” Bowen-Burt said. “This year, we have a decent amount of kids. The more the merrier for this kind of sport.” 

At the beginning of last year, the ultimate frisbee team did not have as many people come to the first practice as they had anticipated, just around six people. Then at the first practice this year, despite the short notice and a dreary day, they had nearly double the turnout. While the team can be involved with the sport using seven team members, captain Bowen-Burt believes getting the team up to 14 students would make their team more competitive. 

“With the rise in popularity, colleges will actually field Division I frisbee, like the University of Iowa,” Bowen-Burt said. “I think it’d be pretty cool if, in high school, we could get ultimate out there more. West High School is the only school in or around Iowa City that has an official team. We are working on it. You can go to college and play frisbee on a scholarship, which is not a bad way to get your college paid.” 

In spite of their optimism about this year’s season, the captains have some concerns for next year. According to Sarsfield, it has been difficult to schedule practices, especially with Iowa’s ever-changing weather patterns. Additionally, the team has faced setbacks with booking practices in the gym. Furthermore, extracurriculars and track are at their peak as ultimate frisbee starts. The captains hope that as summer rolls around and student responsibilities decrease, ultimate frisbee participation will increase. 

“[A lack of subs] was a problem we faced last year in the final game we played with West High,” Sarsfield said. “They had twice as many people, and they were subbing out after every play. It was different for us, for instance, I didn’t get a break at all during the tournament.” 

For the sport to be recognized officially, the team needs a sponsor. According to Bowen-Burt, the first step to getting a sponsor is to have a more consistent number of people participating. With both of these things in place, the team is confident that they could also secure funds from the school to fund things like uniforms and equipment. 

“Finding an adult [at City High] that will sponsor the team would help tremendously because we want to leave [Ultimate Frisbee] as something that continues after we’re graduated,” Bowen-Burt said. “The first time I played was just two years ago. So I haven’t been playing for very long but I love the sport a lot. Anyone can come on and play, and even in just a year or six months, you can get like pretty good at playing. It’s so easy just to go once and get hooked on playing.”