Even with all of the athletic options at Highland Park High School, some students can’t find the right fit.
That’s where ultimate comes in. The outdoor 7-on-7 game, also known as ultimate frisbee, uses a disc instead of a ball while combining elements of football, basketball, and soccer, in a more informal setting.
“It’s a very relaxed sport, but it’s very athletic and a lot of fun,” said Laws Smith, a senior at Cambridge who plays on the Highland Park ultimate club team. “There’s a lot of running if you play a whole game. I definitely feel that.”
Ultimate has been a staple on college lawns for decades, but is starting to grow nationwide as a more competitive sport with leagues and tournaments at all levels.
HP coach Darius Tse is a member of the practice squad for the Dallas Roughnecks, an expansion team in the American Ultimate Disc League, which has 26 professional teams throughout the United States and Canada.
The HP club team has been successful as part of a burgeoning presence at the high school level in the Dallas and Austin areas, reaching the semifinals of the state tournament twice in the past three years.
More than 30 HP players are divided into two teams — the Bravehearts and the Plaids — which compete in leagues and tournaments from March to May. They typically practice twice a week and play on the weekends.
“We try to get as many kids playing as possible,” Tse said. “There’s a few we get that have played the game before.”
However, most are newcomers and need to learn the game essentially from scratch. Spreading awareness is part of the team’s mission, which is why it conducted a recent clinic through the YMCA and always welcomes spectators during its practices at public parks.
“Coming in as a beginner is nice,” said HP senior Will Douglass. “There’s almost a community in ultimate that helps new players to learn. A lot of it is word-of-mouth.”
About 90 percent of the team’s players go to HP, although a few — such as Smith — are from other area schools that don’t have ultimate programs, Tse said.
“We’re really just building a base so hopefully next year we can dominate the Dallas area,” Smith said.