April 12, 2024

You may have walked by the Front Lawn on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and seen a group of students chasing down Frisbees across the lawn, or, come nightfall, you might have spotted a glowing disc in the air above the Front Lawn, thrown long downfield. If so, you have likely spotted the Ultimate Frisbee Club.

The club has deep roots on the California Baptist University campus. Jeremy Bharwani, senior computer science major and president of the Ultimate Frisbee Club, said the club has existed since at least 2006, though “legend has it” that it has existed since the 1980s or 1990s.

“It’s been around for as long as anyone can remember, so I get the opportunity to be able to continue it,” Bharwani said.

Bharwani moved into the position of president in January after serving as club vice president in fall 2021.

The club attracts large numbers of students, with about 80 official members currently registered in the club. In the past, Bharwani has seen it reach even higher, recalling a time when there were about 300 people in their club group chat. For Bharwani, the breadth of their reach on campus speaks to the importance of the sport and the club to the CBU community.

“It seems like just a bunch of people throwing a plastic disc around, but somehow it’s also one of the biggest ministries on this campus in my opinion,” Bharwani said. “The community we get and the people that come out — we have people who have never played Frisbee before and we have people who have played competitively before. We just get all these people together meeting new people.”

Charissa Graves | CBU Banner The Frisbee teams hustle while trying to defend their goal.

The club has a significant group of dedicated members who return time and time again. What sparks such dedication, though? To find out, I decided to join the club for a game of
ultimate frisbee on Oct. 7.

The club meeting started with circling up, when club members come together for a brief time of prayer and announcements. Then, it was time to play.

To divide into teams, each player found another person with whom to flip a disc. Think of it like flipping a coin — only the coin is a frisbee. This action determines which team each player will be on that day.

The game starts with the opening throw, like a kickoff in football. Then, the teams play either defense or offense, depending on which team has the frisbee at the time. Those on defense attempt to block the other team’s throws and force a turnover, which occurs whenever the frisbee hits the ground, while the team on offense tries to move the frisbee downfield. There is a catch, though — you cannot run with the frisbee, and you have 10 seconds to throw it to a teammate. The objective: catch the frisbee in the opposite end zone.

Environmental conditions influence the frisbee game heavily. That day, when I remarked that turnovers seemed to occur frequently, one of the club members pointed out that the wind was blowing harder that afternoon, affecting the flight of the frisbee.

The game shifted quickly as each throw had the potential to end in a turnover. Players used various throws, ranging from the simpler backhand and forehand throws, to more advanced throws such as the hammer throw, used to launch the disc over defenders.

The game ended when one of the teams (yes, it was my team) scored seven times.

Casey Maldonado | CBU Banner Members of the Ultimate Frisbee Club gather for a huddle and prayer time before practice.

Each meeting ends with circling up a final time for some more prayer and fellowship.

The club members are somewhat competitive, aiming to win each game. Bharwani also said the club has a more competitive tournament each semester where they create more official teams with team names and colors. Some members of the club even compete at higher levels outside of the CBU club.

However, the competition and sport is not the main reason people keep coming back. For Bharwani, and for fellow club members Alicia Precie, junior sport management major, and Alyssa Arnone, senior mathematics major, the game is about connecting with the people more than with the discs in the air.

“First of all, getting to play with all of these people is amazing,” Arnone said. “I didn’t know frisbee was very much of a thing before I got here, and it’s been the place where I’ve made the most friends and had the closest community. Having a group of people who care about you beyond — (it’s) the smaller things. People will pray for you and they want to know how you’re doing.”

Precie has been in the club since her freshman year, and she is excited to see the club grow even more this year.

“I just like how it brings us all together,” Precie said. “I have made a lot of new friends here. Being a sport management major, I just love playing sports, and this is the perfect club to join.”

For Bharwani, the most rewarding aspect of his position is bringing new people from various backgrounds into this community of students.

“I’ve seen people come to church for the first time,” Bharwani said. “I’ve seen people find life groups. I’ve seen people get married from meeting out here. People make lifelong friends. It’s the community aspect that makes what this club is.”

For those interested in checking out the club, come to the Front Lawn on Fridays at 4 p.m. or Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. — or just look for a group of students tossing frisbees and having a good time. That means you are in the right place.

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