Finding a way to connect the art of Ultimate Frisbee with the field of mathematics, Project 366 headed to Method Community Park to meet with the Raleigh Flyers. The national Ultimate Frisbee team was founded back in 2015, and they’ve been growing their community impact ever since here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ultimate Frisbee is a sport taking elements from soccer, football, and basketball, while bringing its own unique rules to the field. The Raleigh Flyer’s owner, Mike, gave us a quick rundown of how the sport is usually played: there are two end-zones and the plays are made up of chain passes between players until the frisbee makes it into the endzone. With lots of movement and constantly changing playing conditions, the players rely heavily on their individual decisions, along as their teammates, to have a successful game.
Speaking with Raleigh Flyer and Captain, Noah, he explained the importance of mathematics during the game. With the quick-pace of the game, most players don’t realize how much calculating goes into each play, but taking a step back can illustrate the importance of math in Ultimate Frisbee. The frisbee itself is manipulated by throwing it at different angles, which brings in geometry, as a player has to be aware of which angles produce each kind of throw. Along with geometry, the spacing on the field relies heavily on intentional spatial design, which incorporates fractions when players begin to position themselves on a divided field. Another element of geometry comes in defense, as triangulation of the players has a huge role in a successful play. A player focuses on making a triangle between him and the two other players, so they can successfully defend a pass from being completed.
Along with incorporating math, Ultimate Frisbee is an art as it is a huge source of entertainment within our community. Fans are excited to cheer on the team while they play the fast-paced game, and players tend to focus on making explosive, energetic plays and impressive maneuvers. The Raleigh Flyers also promote engagement off the field, as they participate in parades, clinics, and community outreaches during their off-season. With a strong fanbase, the Raleigh Flyers find support from their audience, and their own team, as teamwork is an important aspect of the sport. The team works to keep energy high, even if the outcome of the game isn’t exactly what they were hoping for, and they even have some team cheers to pump each other up. These cheers provide support to the players, and are a fun way for the team to communicate while others are on the field.
The players and coach take up a lot of important roles in the team, and another job combines the love of Ultimate Frisbee and math to help the players reach their full potential. Statistics are collected during the games, which are kept on an app, and these are used to help each player know what they’re doing well at, along with providing areas that need improvement. Keeping up with things like completion percentages, defensive and offensive efficiency, and goals scored, helps the team focus on how a game went and they can use this data to make improvements. As a statistician, Matt is involved with the sport while also using math for sport analytics. Matt’s role is huge for the team, as he helps the players understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. As player Noah said, “it’s just different than a lot of sports,” and the unique experience allows for people to understand the passion driving these players.
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