Unlike varsity college sports, ultimate Frisbee doesn’t align under traditional conferences. Instead, USA Ultimate divides the nation into regions, which are divided into sections.
Two years ago, however, some players at UNC decided to do something a bit different and invite the traditional ACC teams to get together and compete on the Frisbee field.
“It’s a fun way to play off rivalries between schools,” said Darkside captain Thomas Sayre-McCord. “And it is a recognizable set up for non-Frisbee players.”
The first ACC Ultimate Championship was held in 2009. The 2010 tournament was canceled due to snow.
This year, 10 teams attended: Virginia Tech, UNC, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Maryland,
Duke, North Carolina State University, Boston College, Wake Forest and UNC-B.
“It’s good to have a conference tourney,” said UNC coach Mike Denardis. “It gives you a good gauge of regional strength, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase games with observers.”
The ACC Tournament has used observers, a referee of sorts who watches the game and makes a definitive call only if asked to by players, both times it was held. ACC rules, however, work to expand the role of observers a bit beyond the norm.
“The tournament has experimental rules which involve observers having a much more active role in game play,” Sayre-McCord said.
Observers called off-sides on a pull, as is normal, but they also made active up/down, in/out and travel calls, which in some cases is left up to players unless an observer is called upon.
Playing with observers is a good learning experience for players, both young and old, especially because the threat of off-sides and officially timed timeouts keeps the game moving and can seem a bit more stressful if players aren’t used to it.
“With the trend of the top college and club teams calling for observers, it’s a good match, especially this early in the season,” Denardis said. “It’s a great system, and I hope USA Ultimate explores it further in the future.”
Another slight variation the ACC Tournament employed that differentiates it from the typical ultimate competition was a later schedule – games began at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday – to accommodate a showcase game of UNC against Duke under the lights. The matchup capitalized on conference rivalries and drew a decent crowd, complete with posters supporting both teams.
“Duke played well throughout,” Denardis said. “It gave the fans what they came to see – a competitive game and a UNC win.”
For more information:
UNC men's ultimate Frisbee team takes second at ACCUC 2011
What is ultimate Frisbee?