IN Pine-Richland Spring 2018 - Page 27

The game is typically played seven-on-seven on a football- sized field with 20-yard end zones. To play, the defending team throws, or pulls, the disc from their defending end zone line to the offense awaiting the disc on their own end zone line on the opposite side of the field. What’s unusual about the sport is that it’s self-officiated, meaning there are no referees. “One of the central components of the game, and why it is revered as a sport, is the integral quality of sportsmanship in its ‘Spirit of the Game,’” notes Ranii-Dropcho. “Knowing and understanding interpretations of the rules is important, and resolutions of conflict become a common occurrence.” According to USA Ultimate, the club’s umbrella organization, the Spirit of the Game encourages highly competitive play but “never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors.” The organization forbids “taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior.” That high level of respect is what the team thrives on, says team co-captain Aiden Landis, 18. “My favorite aspect of ultimate is how competitive the games can become, but still maintain a high level of sportsmanship,” says Aiden, a senior who captains the team with Lucas Saunders, 17. One of the most challenging aspects of the game isn’t on the field, but rather involves building the team, he adds. “The most difficult aspect of the sport is finding committed athletes for the team. Since it is such a small sport, we don’t have the pull that much more popular sports have, and don’t get as many kids signing up to play. In recent years, we’ve had a great influx of new talent, so it has not been too much of an issue, but it’s definitely something that’s always on our minds.” Ranii-Dropcho says that teams need a minimum roster of 17 “well-conditioned” players to compete in games and tournaments. Exposing middle school students to the game has bolstered interest; the team currently has approximately seven middle school players who practice with the team. “For our club, we encourage our middle school players to practice with us all fall and learn the game at the same rate that we would expect new high school recruits to learn it,” he explains. “Many of the contributors for this year’s team come from a deep sophomore class who started around the time I began coaching in 2014.” All high school students, boys and girls, are eligible to play for the team. Middle school players must have special paperwork approved by the PHUL and league commissioner to participate. The season runs from March through May, and the team practices at the Treesdale Commons in Gibsonia. Students whose schools don’t have Ultimate Frisbee teams can play for a nearby school, with exceptions. Looking forward, the team hopes to repeat its recent successes. “First and foremost is always striving for excellence at the city level and wining our second consecutive PHUL championship in May. There is always a heavy focus on individual improvement for each player as well. I ask the players what kind of contribution they want to be able to make in the spring, outline ways they can achieve that, and then help them develop in that area as much as I can throughout the season,” Ranii-Dropcho says. The coach, who graduated from Pine-Richland in 2010 and captained the Pine-Richland team in 2009 and 2010, is happy to see the sport gaining more respect as time goes on. “I personally wanted nothing more than to play football when I was heading into high school,” he recalls. “When my parents decided for me that I would not be participating, I took up ultimate in 2007. It’s shaped my life in so many positive ways and continues to be a sport that I invest time and energy into. The people you meet, the community you engage with and the lifetime lessons you gain from playing a team sport like ultimate are well worth the time invested into learning the game.”   ■ >> For more information, contact pinerichlandultimate@gmail.com. PINE-RICHLAND ❘ SPRING 2018 25