Before graduating from Apache Junction High School in 2014, Kristin Sigler participated in marching band, cross country and tennis, none of which prepared her for what has become her collegiate athletic passion.
Sigler discovered club ultimate disc at UC-San Diego, where she is a junior majoring in public health. Or, as she tells it, “the sport kind of found me.”
“I had a friend at school who said I should check it out. I really like the people and I like the sport. It’s a really good sport for me,” Sigler said while visiting Apache Junction this spring to watch her twin sisters Heather and Jessica, play tennis for AJHS.
Asked if either of her sisters will follow her footsteps and give ultimate disc a whirl, Kristin said, “I’m trying my best. Jess is pretty good at throwing, so I’m trying to get her to want to do it in college, because most colleges have a team.”
Jessica said she isn’t sure if she will take up ultimate disc, explaining, “It depends on where I go to college. I like that it has the competitiveness of football, but not so physical, and it’s laid back, kind of like tennis. I tried it and it’s a lot of fun. But I like to play a lot of different sports.”
While people started flinging a pie tin on the beach in Connecticut around 1938, a more aerodynamic disc was soon developed and evolved into what became the Frisbee, manufactured by Wham-O since 1957. The sport of Frisbee was a counterculture activity on college campuses in the 1960s and became a collegiate club sport, mostly in the Northeast and the Bay Area.
Five years ago, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association estimated that 5.1 million people were playing competitive ultimate disc.
Sigler describes ultimate disc as “a cross between football, soccer and basketball.” Teams have seven-person lineups. Scoring is similar to soccer, with “touchdowns” counting as one point. The field is 80 yards long with 20-yard end zones. Rules dictate that a player can hold the disc no longer than seven seconds and defenders cannot touch them.
“We do something similar to a kickoff, then you work the disc down the field. You can stall it, like in basketball,” Sigler explained. “You can’t move with the disc. When you score a point, it’s really exhilarating.
“I play a cutter, which is like a receiver, and a handler, which is like a quarterback. I’ve been doing that for two years. I’ve improved a lot!” she continued. “It’s a great team sport, not really like tennis or cross country, which you do on your own. This is a much more close-knit team sport, so it’s a real good feeling when your team does well.”
Ultimate disc appeals to players like Sigler, who like to compete, but without the intensity.
“It’s more competitive than intramurals, but it’s not as serious as NCAA,” Sigler said, adding they have an A and a B squad. “I don’t have the time to commit to the A team. We usually play in five or six tournaments, and in those tournaments, we’ll play something like four games a day.
“It’s cool to travel. We go to Santa Barbara a lot, and we just competed in Las Vegas, which is fun. That’s our big tournament of the year, along with sectionals in Irvine.”
Sigler said ultimate Frisbee is a lifetime sport, like tennis or golf.
“People can play this forever. We have alumni that come back all the time and I see myself doing that,” Sigler said. “I worked with a grad student when I was doing research in a lab, and she was on the women’s national team for beach Frisbee.”
Sigler is a public health major. “I really like San Diego and I have family there. I just wanted to get out and do other things. UCSD is a real good science school and I eventually found my passion in public health.
Hoping to get her master’s in public health, then get a physician’s assistant degree. “Then I can integrate my public health knowledge with clinical care.”
And when she’s not doing that, Kristin will be throwing the Frisbee, saying “it’s mostly the people” that will keep her involved In ultimate disc.
“I really like our team and the sport itself,” Sigler said. “I really enjoy throwing the disc. It’s a social thing, and it’s really fun.”