Twice a week, a group of students gathers on Anderson Field. Some of them have Frisbees, some of them don’t. Some are dressed in athletic gear tying up cleats, while others are wearing t-shirts and jeans. Most are somewhere in between. These people are part of Troy Ultimate Frisbee Community pick-up. Pick-up is open to anyone of any skill level. Some people are RPI students around for the summer to do research, work, or take classes. Others are RPI alums and others are from around the Capital District. Some come from as far away as Albany or Schenectady. All have come to play Ultimate while having a great time.
Once the field is set up—Ultimate Frisbee is played with eight cones marking in-bounds and the end zones—people walk over to each side of the field. The goal is to play 7-on-7, but sometimes a shortage of people playing keeps that from happening. Several subs wait on the sideline, ready to run in and join the game as soon as a point is scored. Teams are divided based on shirt color: “lights” and “darks.” Players switch colors and sides regularly; they are requested to bring a light-colored shirt and a dark-colored one. Points are not counted until towards the end, when someone announces, “Game to five!” or some number of points. Pick-up ends after about two hours.
During the summer, when campus was nearly deserted, Troy Ultimate Frisbee Community continued playing. Many of the players also played in the Albany Summer League.
Rangarajan Radhakrishnan ’13 was one of the players running around on the fields twice a week this summer. He started playing it because “[his] friends were playing it, and they asked [him] to join them. It’s fun to play and to watch others play.” Radhakrishnan has been with Troy UFC since the beginning. He has been playing since “2011, I think, when it started being called Troy. Before that, some of us graduate students were playing in the small field beside the pool.” The group of graduate students merged with some members of RPI’s Ultimate Frisbee club team who wanted to get more Ultimate in a relaxed way and other members of the Ultimate community in Troy and beyond.
Graduate Student Nimit Dhulekar, who has been playing with Troy UFC for about a year, helps organize pick-up sometimes. According to Dhulekar, it involves “getting there on time, setting up cones, and inviting as many people as [he] knows” to the Facebook events. During the game, Dhulekar makes sure that everyone gets a turn to play. Dhulekar finds Troy UFC to be very valuable both for the people playing and for finding talent for intramurals and other teams: “It’s the best place to recruit new talent for the school and IM teams. You also get to meet people outside of RPI but active in the Ultimate Frisbee community. It’s also a good place to learn. Nobody will fault you for making a bad throw or causing a turnover.” Pick-up is certainly a relaxed way to learn and perfect the sport, with plenty of coaching from those who have been playing for longer.
Linda Gao ’13 played on the RPI Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Wanda, for several years. According to Gao, “pickup gave me more confidence to play on the team! I got to test out some skills I learned playing on Wanda and also be less self-conscious about my newbie ness[sic]. I felt less pressure and commitment to play on pick-up.”
Radhakrishnan agrees with Dhulekar and Gao that pick-up is very relaxed and enjoyable. “I think the best part is the camaraderie we build up playing Ultimate. People play really hard but they are also friendly toward noobs[sic], which is unlike competitive games. That’s why I love playing with Troy UFC.” Many people have played with Troy UFC for a year or more, though others are newer and stick around.
Even now that the summer has ended, the group continues playing on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6–8 pm. Until the field gets too messed up or it snows, pick-up will happen twice a week on days with decent weather. The group does have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TroyUFC, which posts frequent updates and event invites.