A World of Flying Disks and Friendships

Emily Khym '23, Features Editor

At exactly a quarter until four on a school day, you can see students running past the Farmington river to the open greenery by the bridge. Here, students part of the Loomis Chaffee’s Ultimate Frisbee Program gather to learn how to play frisbee.
Arriving at the frisbee field, students pair up and practice throws for a few minutes. Mr. Ned Heckman and Ms. Caitlyn Cotton work together to coach the students.
“You need arm mobility, core strength, and agility—basically, you need to be strong in every way,” Mr. Heckman said. “Students also should be getting around 100 throws a day to improve, meaning that stretching is very important.”
Coach Cotton then calls everyone in to lead the athletes in stretching exercises. After stretching, the athletes go through a drill based on foundational skills of Ultimate Frisbee. As there is a skill level difference, the two coaches use the method of differentiation where they split athletes based on their skill level. One coach helps the beginners learn the basic skills of the game, while the other coach works with more experienced players in playing a frisbee game.
An Ultimate Frisbee game involves two teams of seven. On each side, there are three handlers who throw the disks and four cutters who move around to get into an open area to receive the frisbee.
When asked about his inspiration for bringing Ultimate Frisbee to LC, Mr. Heckman attributed his growing passion for frisbee to his high school Ultimate Frisbee club.
“The club met at the park that was on my way home from my public school,” said Mr. Heckman. “I was like it’s once a week. It seemed like a pretty good group of guys who did it. Sure, I’ll learn how to play frisbee.”
Mr. Heckman attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, which only fueled his passion for frisbee more. Carleton College is known as the Ultimate Frisbee school and plays Division One for Ultimate Frisbee. On his first day as a college freshman, Mr. Heckman received a Carleton College frisbee and later joined his college’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
“It’s harder to not play frisbee than to play frisbee there,” Mr. Heckman said.
From then on, Mr. Heckman has created many friendships and memories from playing Ultimate Frisbee.
“I got one of my first of many scars playing frisbee,” continued Mr. Heckman. “I ran into a fence while playing frisbee. They called me “fence face,” which was an accurate representation of my face that day.”
Similarly, frisbee athletes have formed many new bonds through this afterschool program.
“This intramural team really focuses on building a strong community,” said a frisbee athlete Christine Wu ’25. “In the first two sessions I had already met many new people and was able to make good friends.”
Not only does Ultimate Frisbee allow you to form friendships, it also teaches you about integrity. Ultimate Frisbee is a game based heavily on honesty. There are no referees in the game; thus, it is up to the athletes to own up to their mistakes.
“For someone who is competitive but not at all costs, it is the perfect activity in a lot of ways,” Mr. Heckman said. “Frisbee also relies on a strong sense of community not just for your team but for the other team as well.”
Here at LC, frisbee fits perfectly. Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport and also requires physical exertion and community bonding.
Frisbee is like any other sport—athletes have similar mindsets in approaching a game.
“On a personal level, I learned how to keep pushing myself even when I felt tired,” said another frisbee athlete Gabriel Jiang ’24. “Life can be like a frisbee game. The field is constantly moving and changing, so if you don’t move around to be open for the frisbee, you will never get the opportunity to receive it.”
There are many skills from other sports that frisbee athletes learn. For instance, when athletes learn how to ‘mark’ or defend in a game of Ultimate Frisbee, the skill sets learned are similar to how athletes would learn to defend in basketball. The frisbee field is also similar to a football field, and the pace is a lot like soccer.
“It requires some fitness,” said Mr. Heckman. “It’s not like a joke. It’s chill, fun and friendly.”
Students have enjoyed and learnt a lot from training sessions.
“I only knew how to throw a frisbee when I would play it with my family,” said Wu. “After a few sessions, I learnt how to properly do a backhand throw and catch a disk.”
“I found frisbee really fun,” added Jiang. “10 out of 10 would recommend it!”
LC’s Ultimate Frisbee Program continues to run every spring term. With the growing number of students participating in this program, there are hopes for interscholastic Ultimate Frisbee competitions for the Loomis frisbee team.