The ultimate huck

Senior Julian Walston heads to Carleton College to play frisbee

by Faith Isakson, Staff

You’ve probably been to a football game, or maybe you’re a basketball fan and enjoy watching and cheering from the bleachers. But it’s likely you’ve never watched ultimate frisbee, the sport with no referees and spirit awards being given out after most games.  

Senior Julian Walston has been playing ultimate frisbee since third grade. He’s played other sports such as basketball and tennis, but has quit both to pursue frisbee more seriously after COVID-19 forced him to take a break from frisbee. “I got back into ultimate after taking a break, and I’ve played it year round since,” he said. He plans to continue his frisbee journey at Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota next year. 

Since Shorewood does not have an ultimate frisbee team, Walston has been playing for Nathan Hale’s boys and mixed team, along with a youth club team. He is also a practice player for the Seattle Cascades, a professional frisbee team based out of Seattle that competes in the Western Division of the American Ultimate Disc League. Practicing with them gave Walston insight into the intensity of professional play and forced him to step up his game. “The level was so much higher that it really challenged me to improve my game,” he said. 

One aspect of frisbee that appeals to Walston is the emphasis on sportsmanship. To encourage fairness and a positive attitude, the concept of spirit of the game is an integral part of the sport. “There’s this thing called spirit of the game, where the emphasis is about enjoying playing and enjoying each other and having good sportsmanship, which creates a good culture within your team and a lot of friendships between teams,” Walston said.

Spirit of the game can be implemented in many different ways. “At some tournaments you give spirit awards, where after a game the whole team or the coach decides on one of the other players and gives them a disc or some sort of prize for having good spirit,” he said. Sportsmanship is encouraged throughout the whole season, not just at tournaments. 

 “During the regular season after a game you rate the opponent’s spirit, like how good of people they were doing the game basically,” said Walston. There are no referees, which also encourages good sportsmanship. “It’s a self-officiated sport so you get to call your own fouls and after a foul call you discuss it with the opponents what you thought happened, if you think there’s a foul and you resolve it that way,” Walston said. This practice is also in place for college teams. 

College frisbee is all club, but that doesn’t mean it’s not competitive. Carleton has six teams in total, with their men’s Division I program ranked as a top 15 team in the US.  “The teams have a lot more depth than in high school and other youth teams. It’s a lot more athletic and experienced people, which just raises the game and the level of play overall,” Walston said. 

The team is together at least five days a week either for practice or workouts. “It is pretty intense in the winter and fall. The main season is the spring, so in the winter and fall it’s [practice] two days a week for probably two hours and workouts three other days a week. In the spring it’s [practice] five days a week for two hours with tournaments on many weekends,” said Walston.

Walston will try out for their men’s Division I team in the fall, as there is no official recruiting process because it is not a National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) division sport. He’s feeling stressed but isn’t worried about his chances of making the team. “I’m irrationally stressed about the tryouts. I think I have a pretty good shot to make it,” he said