Fostering friendship on and off the field

Razor? Check. Chair? Check. Testosterone? Always.

It was a Tuesday night in November and members of the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team were prepping for their end of the season tournament by getting Mohawks in a friend’s apartment.

Taking style to a new level, the close-knit G-Dub Ultimate team has created a subculture on campus. All in the name of team bonding, members shave their heads, compete in roshambo and storm the United Church sale on 20th and G streets together each year for quirky clothing.

“The main reason to doing things like getting mohawks is to be more than just guys that play a sport together,” said Garrett McInnes, co-captain of the team. “If we can spend time with each other, we can all know each other better. That way I can trust guys to do things I need them to do and they trust me to play my game on the field.”

A major bonding activity each season centers on the annual sale at the nearby United Church, members said. Over the past few years, players have developed rules and advice on how to expertly cruise the sale, sifting through the goods for unique items like clothing, accessories and furniture.

The same charisma that the team brings to this activity, they bring to the field.

The absence of a referee to monitor Ultimate games means that each member must adhere to moral standards during play. Roshambo is used for settling disputes before and during a game, though the team adds “piss” and “fire” to the usual rock, paper and scissors of roshambo, said teammate Tavish DeAtley, a senior.

Piss loses to rock, paper, and scissors, but beats fire. Fire beats everything but piss.

“The kicker is that fire can only be thrown once in your lifetime, while water can be thrown anytime and as many times as one opts to,” DeAtley said. Once a player throws fire, his fellow members are reminded over the team listserv that he no longer has this option.

Civility and responsibility on the field translates into acceptance and camaraderie off the field. One aspect of Ultimate that attracts players is the subculture created by the sport’s basic statutes. As long as a player is willing to work hard, it is easy to find acceptance within the community, said captains Lyle Harrod and McInnes.

Freshman Aaron Weiss agreed. “I love playing Ultimate. It’s a culture and a sport, and beyond that, it’s just a good group of guys.”

Players often receive nicknames as a way to re-enforce the organization’s bond. Some of the names are related to a former team member or something a player has done during action. DeAtley was dubbed “Spirit Foul” after an accusation from an opposing coach that he had “fouled” the game guidelines.

This fall, G-Dub Ultimate, a student organization since 1998, ranked fifth out of 55 teams at the Colonial Ultimate Frisbee tournament, one of the largest East Coast fall tournaments.

It is also part of the Ultimate Players Association, the umbrella organization for Ultimate Frisbee, and is ranked in the top 11 percent of the 620 teams registered with the UPA.

Although Ultimate Frisbee is not just a college sport, more than 50 percent of registered members are college players, a testament to the sport’s popularity on campuses nationwide since its creation in the late 1960s.

Because the social connections between players often makes it difficult for them to leave the organization, one of its strongest features is a strongly connected alumni group. An alumni event is scheduled for early January.

Senior Aaron Di Silvestro said, “Ultimate has been an important part of college for me. Some guys have frats. I have this.”

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