The ultimate experience

UW-Eau Claire’s men’s ultimate frisbee club team shares their thoughts on the sport as as whole and goals for the coming season

More stories from Nicole Bellford



Eauzone competes in a series of tournaments throughout both the fall and spring semesters.

The year is 1968. Teenager Joel Silver attends summer camp in his hometown of Maplewood, New Jersey with camp counselor Jared Kass. Kass spends the duration of summer teaching the campers a brand new game known as, “Frisbee Football.”

Much like touch football, two teams assemble on a field and aim to score points in their designated end zones. Points are obtained by the offense passing and running a flying disc, known as a frisbee, past the defense and into the end zone.

Joel Silver and his fellow campers enjoy the game so much that they campaign for it to be recognized as a recreational sport at their local high school, Columbia High. Official rules were put into place, and the motion passes.

According to Business Insider, these were the humble beginnings that led to the creation of the sport of ultimate frisbee, commonly referred to as “Ultimate.” The sport became nationally recognized in 1980 by the Ultimate Players Association, a group that later transformed into the nation’s primary ultimate frisbee organization, USA Ultimate.

Although the sport has been around for nearly 50 years, the last decade has sported an abundant rise in national participation and popularity. USA Ultimate reports that since 2004, college ultimate frisbee memberships have increased from 9,951 to 16,058, nearly double the amount of members.

UW-Eau Claire is no exception to the ultimate trend.

Founded in 2000, a group of 20 male students across Eau Claire’s campus have named themselves “Eauzone,” representing one of the two university ultimate frisbee clubs.

Jake Johnson, a senior physics student and one of the three captains of Eauzone, said the club aims at balancing multiple aspects of athletic activity.

“We are a little more serious than intramurals,” Johnson said. “So we try to keep it as competitive as possible while still making it fun and light-spirited for all the guys.”

Johnson began competing with Eauzone his freshman year after hearing about it at the annual  Blugold Organization Bash. Even though he had been a cross country runner in high school, he felt it would be fun to try something new.

Unlike his teammate, journalism and public relations student, Cole Edgell, had experience playing ultimate back in high school. Although this is the sophomore’s first year competing with the university, he’s assured he made the right choice.

“Playing ultimate with Eauzone is easily the best decision I made,” Edgell said. “We have a great group of dedicated guys, and they are all really welcoming. The sport in general is pretty welcoming.”

Johnson said Eauzone competes primarily in the spring semester, but practices and conditions year-round. Practices are held three times a week and consist of a series of offensive and defensive drills that are then implemented in scrimmage.

In terms of competition, the realm is nationwide. While Eauzone typically spends their Saturdays competing against other UW system teams such as UW-Madison, Edgell said that they sometimes play against schools throughout the Midwest, and occasionally across the United States.

Johnson explained that competitions traditionally occur in tournament format, meaning that they play a series of games rather than just one. Eauzone typically competes in three tournaments during the fall, and four to five tournaments in their primary season during the spring semester.

The team has high hopes for the season. Edgell said their biggest goal is to place high enough at their sectional competition, thus landing them a spot in regionals. Regionals is a tournament that would allow them to compete with a wider geographical range of teams and provide Eauzone with an opportunity to qualify for nationals. Edgell said Eauzone fell just short of qualifying for regionals last season.

Above all, Johnson emphasizes they are more than just a team.

“We are definitely more than that (a team). We are family,” Johnson said.

Eauzone’s next competition is set to take place this coming weekend in Missouri. The team will compete alongside several Midwestern universities in hopes for the title. For more information and updates, visit Eauzone’s Facebook page.