Ever seen a Flying Pineapple? Chances are, outside of a food fight or “Iron Chef,” probably not. However, if you’re a fan of Ultimate Frisbee, or just plain Ultimate, you should keep the name in mind. The Flying Pineapples, the College’s Ultimate club team, is active and playing.
The very unusual team name, the Flying Pineapples, came from a team brainstorming session. “We were sitting around trying to think of a name and one of the guys said, ‘how about the flying pineapples?’ just joking around,” Scott Shelton, president of the Flying Pineapples, said.
Though some people call the disc a Frisbee, it is more often known in Ultimate as a disc. Whamo trademarked the name Frisbee, so the name cannot show up on jerseys or any other printed material. That is also why, officially, the game is called Ultimate and not Ultimate Frisbee.
Ultimate is played between two teams of seven players each on a rectangular field. A line drawn across the field at either end signifies the endzone, which is the scoring zone. The team on offense needs to throw the disc to someone on the same team in the endzone to score one point.
Players cannot run with the disc, and once a player is in possession of the disc he or she must throw it to another player. When there is an interception or when the disc falls on the ground or is knocked out of the air by the opposing team, the team that was on defense becomes offense.
In Ultimate, there are no referees. Even at the World Championship level teams self-referee, calling their code of conduct the “Spirit of the Game.” This tends to work because the game is, in essence, a non-contact sport. “No contact games are the only ones I can survive,” the tall, wiry Shelton said.
However, don’t get the wrong idea about Ultimate. Just because it’s non-contact doesn’t mean it isn’t painful sometimes.
“It gets pretty tough,” Shelton said. “I sprained a muscle in my back, some other kid got a hole in his cheek and another got a broken nose.” There was foot-to-face contact for the hole in the cheek and elbow-to-nose contact for the broken nose. “It’s a good thing everyone signs waivers,” he said.
Teams use two different options for deciding who plays offense and defense. One way is by flipping two discs and having someone call “same” or “different.” If he or she calls it correctly, that team gets to choose offense or defense.
The second way to decide offense/defense is by playing “pokey,” which is more informal. Pokey is a game in which one person locks hands with someone on the other team, and the two try to poke each other without getting poked themselves.
“That’s the thing we need to practice the most,” Shelton said. He also said that although he didn’t know the origins of the game, pokey is known by almost all other teams they’ve played.
“There was a really informal club when we got here,” he said. “We played once a week. I just kept pushing for people to play more often because I enjoy it so much.” They started to play up to three times a week, and the team members grew closer.
“With Ultimate, it’s more than just a game – it’s a community,” Justin Wexler, captain of the Flying Pineapples, said.
Wexler also helped to build the team.
“When the club started, I was the only member with any collegiate Ultimate experience,” he said. “I had the best understanding of the game, was most knowledgeable on how to run drills and one of the club’s better players.” Wexler does, however, also give credit to the veteran members of the team.
Shelton loves Ultimate because of the people and the spirit.
“It attracts people who are usually laid back and fun to be around and will call infractions on themselves,” he explained. “All the people that play love it. There aren’t any kids out there that were forced to play by their parents.”