Bright stadium lights illuminate a field of grass where more than 50 student athletes spend the evening throwing, and then running, leaping and sometimes falling to retrieve a 175-gram, white plastic disc.
The game is Ultimate Frisbee, and the ASU men’s team, the Diablos, couldn’t be more serious about their sport.
“We want ASU on the map,” says Andrew Salinas, vice president and treasurer for the Diablos and a senior in business management.
The plan to get on the map includes their new coach, Fernando "Fernz" Lugo, and his firm-yet-fun attitude. Otero captained the 2010 University of Florida team to win the national championship and currently plays on a local club team.
Chris Waltrip, Diablos co-captain and history senior, said that having a coach from outside the ASU system is a good way to keep coaching objective.
“He’s just the coach we needed,” Waltrip says. “He’s not here to be buddy-buddy.”
The Diablos’ first tournament was Sept. 17 and 18 in Tuscon. The team put up good points despite being rusty from a summer apart.
“The teams we played were at the peak of their season and we’re just starting,” Waltrip says.
The Diablos were especially happy about playing successfully against the University of Arizona team who usually beat them badly, Waltrip says.
Kyle Popelka, Diablos co-captain and kinesiology senior, said that competition is just one of the many compelling reasons to play Ultimate.
“It lets me be an athlete while still being a student,” Popelka says. “I can let out my manly urges to kill and win.”
Stefen Hillman, president of the Diablos and chemical engineering senior, said that the best part about Ultimate is the group of people it attracts.
“No matter where you go, everyone is always very open and welcoming,” Hillman says.
The game starts on a rectangular field when two teams of equal number line up on their end zone and the defense throws the Frisbee. A point is scored when the offense completes a pass in the defense’s end zone. There are no referees or officials and the game is self-officiated.
Waltrip says that this manner of officiating encourages a community of quality, committed people to get involved in Ultimate.
“Players need to know all the rules all the time,” Waltrip says.
It’s when players don’t know the rules, and argue as if they do, that a team develops a bad reputation and other teams don’t want to play them, Waltrip says. The Diablos pride themselves on being excellent athletes as well as fair and levelheaded on the playing field, Waltrip says.
Salinas says that this year the Diablos had more than 160 new students come to the first practice, and about 60 joined the team.
“Everyone plays, no one gets cut,” Salinas says. “If we have enough people we might add a C team this year.”
The best advice for people interested in learning more about Ultimate is simply to show up to practice, Salinas says.
Salinas recommended that interested female students join Caliente, the ASU women’s team, for practice. Caliente, the self-proclaimed “red hot sexy desert devils,” was formed in 2006 and has quickly created a competitive and fun-loving environment.
“We love when new people come out,” Hillman says. “You don’t have to have a background in Ultimate, you just have to work hard.”
With that hard work comes the hope for victory and possibly more.
“I think this is our year,” Hillman says.
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