MISSOULA -- Ultimate Frisbee is gaining popularity throughout the nation, and at the University of Montana, they have a club team whose quite successful. Their players come from a variety of athletic backgrounds.
"Just about every sport background, cross-country runners, basketball players, baseball players, wrestlers, but it also draws just a really fun crowd of people who are looking for just an athletic outlet or a group of friends to have at college," says Bear Fight coach Kevin Ryder.
Ultimate Frisbee is a 7-on-7 game, but when you ask the players about it, they are sure to mention the high level of sportsmanship and camaraderie.
"What I think of, and what a lot of people think of as the ultimate, pun intended, but the most perfect representation of what sports can be if sportsmanship is at the forefront," says Bear Fight Sophomore Nate Goodburn
The sport draws a laid-back individual, but with matches across the northwest, there is plenty of strategy and practice that goes into everything.
"We have a playbook, it's 27 pages long, so we've been practicing these plays ever since the fall semester," says Ryder.
"It's a very tactical game, we'll call timeouts and say ‘here's what's going to happen based on the defense' We run a series of different defenses, you can run man-to-man, you can run zone, and there's variations on that, so there is a fair amount of strategy, it just takes awhile to learn it all," says Bear fight senior captain Jake Koplen
Montana Bear Fight, comprised of UM students, isn't a scholarship sport, however it is supported by the school.
"We're a part of the sports club union, through the University of Montana, so we aren't a varsity sport obviously, but we still get a limited amount of funds. But that being said, we do travel all over the Pacific northwest into Utah, and Idaho, and play other college teams, so there is definitely an intercollegiate aspect to it," says Koplen
It's one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, and there are plenty of opportunities to play recreationally or competitively around the state, so why is Ultimate a worthwhile endeavor?
"The reason I like to play Ultimate, and the reason I think everyone should, is because it's a self-officiated sport, it's that sense of community, that you call your own fouls and violations. And when I tell that to people their first response is, ‘aren't there a lot of cheaters then?' but the truth is, if you're cheating in a sport, then people don't want to play with you, so it's a sport that's just weeded out all the people who are bad sports," says Goodburn.