Passions: Ultimate Frisbee

Zompetti_throwing_frisbee_1_.jpgby Tina Vasquez (Los Angeles)

Amanda Zompetti can wear jeans to work every day if she chooses, but comfortable clothing doesn’t ensure that an office won’t get stuffy after being sat in for eight hours a day, five days a week. The twenty-four-year old works at the successful trial law firm Quinn Emanuel and, despite enjoying her job in New York City, she knows that sometimes a girl’s got to run wild and work up a sweat playing Ultimate- frisbee, that is.

Zompetti has always flirted with athletics. The Massachusetts native discovered her competitive streak early on as a five-year-old child equestrian. Twelve long years of horse riding led to forays into cross country running, softball, and volleyball as a high school and college student.

Admittedly, Zompetti did not come from an athletic family. “I don’t know where my love of sports came from,” Zompetti said. “My dad was outdoorsy, but definitely not athletic. As a matter of fact, I think he’d get winded just chasing after a ball.” It wasn’t until attending college as a history major at Dartmouth that Zompetti would discover a game that encompassed some of the best qualities from her favorite sports: the endurance necessary in soccer, the teamwork in volleyball, and a setup similar to football.

Ultimate Frisbee, usually referred to as “Ultimate,” is a team sport played with a Discraft flying disc, which is nearly identical to a Frisbee. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to one of your six teammates in the opposing team’s end zone. “My first game was with the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance and I got schooled. I had the speed to play decently, but it quickly became apparent that these people had way more experience,” Zompetti said.

Ultimate originally began as somewhat of an anti-sport by a group of self-described hippies in New Jersey in the 1970’s, but its popularity grew like wildfire and it has since become a beloved sport with college and social leagues located near every major city in the country. So, how does a young woman leading a normal life as a legal assistant, whose other hobbies include cooking, coin collecting and people watching, become attracted to something as eccentric as Ultimate? Simple: it’s the spirit of the game.

“There’s no referee, so we call the shots and everyone I’ve encountered is so honest and laid back. It’s fun to work with your teammates and get to know all of these interesting new people who all have the same passion for this sport. It’s so rare to be a part of something like this. What other sport is there where it’s not uncommon to find yourself having a beer with someone on an opposing team that you just beat?” Spirit of the Game is also a reference to Ultimate’s set of rules as set in place by the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) of which Zompetti is a member. The association serves as the governing body for Ultimate in the U.S. and because the game is self-officiated, it demands a strong spirit of sportsmanship and respect as outlined in the UPA’s Spirit of the Game guidelines.

Zompetti, who is only 5’4”, cites height as a needed characteristic for doing well on the field, but despite being vertically challenged she can hold her own on any co-ed team she may be placed on. “There was one time when I was playing with the Greater Rochester Area Disc Association and I was the only girl with six guys on my team. It was the most intense game I’ve ever played in. We were running up and down the field constantly. I was making plays I didn’t even know I could; at one point I dove ten feet. It really was the most memorable game I’ve ever played because it was so hardcore and when it was over, I was spent. I can’t remember ever feeling that dead tired,” Zompetti said.

The writer T. Alan Armstrong once questioned whether or not people were really alive if they didn’t have passion in their lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life: fighting traffic, putting in eight hours of work, running errands. As we get older and acquire more obligations, it becomes increasingly difficult to have a carefree weekend or spend time with friends. If, however, we’re willing to make the effort, we can come across a new sport, a new hobby, a new something that provides us with the much-needed fun we crave and the opportunity to make new friends.

Zompetti, who is set to start on a new summer league in two weeks with the New York City Sports Social Club, agrees: “My experience with Ultimate has been really amazing. I’ve met so new people that I now call my friends. I intend to stick with this sport for as long as I can.”