Serving up a disc

When senior geology major Ryan Bright’s Frisbee disc cracked a little more than a week ago, things took a dramatic change in the freestyle session he was intensely engaged in with a few of his

When senior geology major Ryan Bright’s Frisbee disc cracked a little more than a week ago, things took a dramatic change in the freestyle session he was intensely engaged in with a few of his friends.

“The throw was a forehand toss angled high and hard, and I saw it headed for the walkway around the Bell Tower,” Bright said, as a painful reminiscent cringe crept over his face.

“I gave everything I could to outrun it and snatch it up before it hit the pavers, but I couldn’t make it in time.”

The result was a hairline fracture in the disc’s outer third, the particular portion of the Frisbee technically known as the ‘Morrison Slope,’ a design detail listed in the disc’s actual patent.

“We had to call the session right there and then, because even the smallest crack like that is enough to throw the disc’s flight off,” Bright said. “And when there’s too much wobble, it just doesn’t work, it just doesn’t feel right. A Frisbee needs to fly absolutely smooth and wobbly just ain’t cool man.”

The disc’s history is rather controversial,
but many believe and accept the origins
to stem from college students playing around with a pie plate. Not very surprising, is it?

The Frisbie Baking Company, in operation
from 1871 to 1958 was located in Bridgeport, Conn. The baking company sold many of their pies to New England colleges. After the pies were nothing short of devoured, students then figured that the pie plates could be thrown and caught on the opposite end of the trajectory. Thus, a sport was born.

“There’s nothing like it,” Bright said. “You throw it once and you’re literally hooked for life.”

A group of Temple students usually meets on Sundays and Tuesdays on the grass field across the street from University Village, a private off-campus housing complex,
at 8 p.m. They play Ultimate Frisbee, a combination and variation of football and soccer that demands incredibly high levels of endurance and grace. Unlike football, though, there’s absolutely no contact involved in Ultimate Frisbee. And unlike most sports in general, there are no referees.

“It’s about being true to yourself and to the sport,” Bright said. “Honesty is what makes the disc spin round, and if you can’t be a good sport, then you don’t deserve to throw a Frisbee anyway.”

Ultimate Frisbee involves two teams (usually made up of seven players on the field at once, but many times varies according to attendance) advancing the Frisbee up field toward the goal. Much like an end-zone in football, a point is scored once the plane of the goal is crossed by someone receiving the disc. The catch is, when a player receives a throw, they must immediately stop before throwing the disc once again. When the disc is dropped by a player or simply hits the ground after a misdirected throw, possession changes.

“There’s nothing like trying to run down a disc after a big 60-yard pull from somebody,” said Colin Kuehn, a freshman civil engineering major. “And many times, you’re racing against a defender to get to the disc first.

“But rather than focusing on the other player, all the attention is on the disc. It’s mystifying, like it’s the only thing in the world that exists, just hovering in space at that particular moment in time.”

The huck, the pull, the flick; however you say it, each refers to one common denominator in the Frisbee world – putting the disc in flight. A common misconception is that the Frisbee only belongs in small esoteric groups of college stoners and ex-hippies. But, the truth is, anyone can throw a Frisbee; all it takes is a little wrist. Although it may just be a blob of plastic molded into a 175-gram circle, for Bright, and surely many others like him, he rather see the world stop spinning before his Frisbee does.

“As crazy as it sounds, I would probably starve to death without it man,” he said. “It’s the only thing I can eat my food off of anymore.”

T.C. Mazar can be reached at

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