Ultimate, “a sport like you’ve never seen before,” brings high-flying discs, national team athletes and Division 1 schools to the campus of Oklahoma Christian University.
Last January, the Oklahoma Christian athletic department announced the addition of Ultimate to the athletic department. The Eagles begin their first season of competition this semester.
Although some may have played backyard Frisbee with their dog or out on a field during church camp, collegiate Ultimate competition brings more intensity and talent, Head Coach Gabe Cabrera said.
“Ultimate is a sport unlike any other you’ve probably seen,” Cabrera said. “Verticality of basketball with the intensity of football and the endurance of soccer. It’s basically all those sports married to one another with a toy you play with your dog. It’s truly a fun sport to play, and it’s incredible to watch. It’s something you can active in, get involved in and be vocal about, especially between two solid teams.”
Here is a quick crash course in Ultimate, according to USA Ultimate. The game is played on a 70 by 40-yard field with two end zones. Players advance the Frisbee by throwing it to another teammate; they cannot run with the Frisbee. To score, a team must catch the Frisbee in the defense’s end zone, similar to the concept of football. The team without the Frisbee defends, which means they can hit the Frisbee or intercept it to gain possession.
Coach Cabrera said he scheduled four scrimmages at home to get the Oklahoma Christian community involved, excited and educated on sport.
Several big names in Ultimate now call Oklahoma Christian home as they prepare to make history with a new team.
Successfully fulfilling his early goals, Coach Cabrera brought freshman Elliott Moore from Austin, TX, and Kevin van Roosmalen from the Netherlands to compete on the inaugural Eagles team.
Moore played club Frisbee in Austin with Austin Sol and the Austin Doublewide club team. He also won a gold medal at the 2018 Junior World Championships with the USA Ultimate U-20 National Team. Roosmalen played for the Dutch National team in the Netherlands.
Moore said he came to Oklahoma Christian because it offered something no one else did.
“Not really any school offers scholarship,” Moore said. “Nobody else is doing scholarships like Oklahoma Christian. No one else is recruiting like they are. I had gotten a couple of other Frisbee scholarship offers from other schools, but they were nowhere near the amount of this.”
Coach Cabrera said Moore brings a high level of expertise and intangible qualities, which will help the team be successful.
“Elliott [Moore] is one of those guys who could play anywhere he wants,” Cabrera said. “He has that air about him. He carries himself in an astounding way. He commands attention without saying anything and people look to him in that regard. Then, when he does speak, what he does say is beyond anything most people his age should be able to say as a college player. He’s really been a game changer, even in practices. He’s a great motivator, and everybody loves having him on the team.”
Playing alongside big names in the sport are current Oklahoma Christian students who Coach Cabrera believes have what it takes to take this team to a regional title and even a chance at the national tournament.
Junior Zachary Payne said he never expected the opportunity to play Ultimate in college, and he wants to be the best he can.
“I know for Oklahoma Christian, Ultimate Frisbee is not big, but we’re going to try to make it big,” Payne said. “The guys on the team have a lot of talent. We could possibly be serious contenders this year. As a community, [we are] going out and having fun, showing that Oklahoma Christian is a good college.”
Oklahoma Christian will compete in three major tournaments; the results from those will determine their national ranking and regional placement. They will also compete in friendlies, or scrimmages, throughout the season against Division I teams, including the University of Oklahoma, Southern Methodist University, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Arlington.
The first scrimmage is Saturday, Feb. 8, at Eagle Soccer Field. Moore and Payne both said they want to see a big crowd supporting the team.
“Come and watch a sport that you’ve never seen before,” Moore said. “It’s a high-flying, high-speed sport that’s usually pretty surprising when typical sports fans come and watch.”
“We just want to try to show the students and the school that we are really here, we are athletes and we can help represent our school,” Payne said.