Locals find friends, fun in Ultimate Frisbee games


Ultimate Frisbee group at a recent gathering

By Lucas Didier, Staff Writer

Life is busy. As you begin emerging into adulthood, more and more responsibilities are added to your plate, and it becomes increasingly difficult and rare to schedule time with your friends. But some people find ways to make the best of their time. Some people put in the necessary work to fit time in their busy lives for much needed fellowship. For some local young adults, Ultimate Frisbee has provided the perfect environment to get together and live their lives to the fullest.

Ultimate Frisbee is a simple team sport. The goal is to move the Frisbee down the field into your opponent’s endzone. You cannot run with the Frisbee, only pass it to your teammates. It is a non-contact sport, typically played on field similar to that of soccer or football. As long as you have a Frisbee, an open field and a few people per team, you can put together a game.

The game is popular across many youth groups in the area, including The Bridge at Lake Region Bible Church. Some students at College of Lake County started playing there, and they quickly spread the word to some of their friends. Not wanting to overwhelm the younger kids at the group, the CLC students began to form their own group. This group was formed in 2015 or 2016, depending on who you ask. They still play on a weekly basis to this day.

They originally started playing at a soccer field at Central Park in Grayslake that is within sight of the home  of  Cameron Ringer, who has consistently organized the event. Even after the Ringer family moved, the field has remained a consistent host to weekly Ultimate Frisbee. Some present attendees have been playing since the start. Others, like myself, are newcomers this year. Some make it part of their schedule nearly every single week. Others may only make it out once or twice a year. But even if the frequency and length of attendance varies, it is true that if you come once, you’ll likely show up again.

The group happily welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to play. Men and women of all different shapes, sizes and athletic ability have found a home with them. Some players have been playing most of their life. Some even played on a team while in college. Others had never heard of the sport before joining them. Some players are married and even have kids. Others have yet to graduate high school. None of these factors of age, gender, or ability matter here. So long as you can make it to the field with a willingness to play, there is a place for you.

They have played in the brisk spring air atop slippery, mud-filled fields. They fight through brutal heat and dry, crunching grass of summer. They endure the overcast skies and gusting winds of fall. And they may even fight through the blistering cold and snow-covered fields of winter from time to time. They have played morning, afternoon and even night. If they can get enough people, they want to get out and play.

On the best days, they have accumulated nearly 30 players at a time. If every player, past and present, were to show up for a single game, the crowd may approach triple digits. Now you may be wondering, why? Why are all these people so committed to playing Ultimate Frisbee? Certainly, their love for the game is part of it. However, if you ask me, as well as Cameron Ringer, it’s more than that.

“I think it was one of the easiest ways to get a lot of people together and find something to do,” said Ringer. “We had a lot of friends and the friend group was growing, and so, with like 14 people what are you going to do? But Ultimate Frisbee ended up being a perfect outlet for that… to see everyone.”

As time goes on, it becomes harder and harder to see your friends. Schedules get busy. People drift apart. Once school no longer provides regularly scheduled time with peers, it can be hard to find ways to regularly keep in touch friends, as well as make new ones. But these young people have started something special that has allowed them to break that mold.

This group has provided something that many people haven’t replicated since their middle school days. Back then, your number one priority was to gather as many kids as you could to play a game. Nothing else mattered. Everything else was just an obstacle standing in the way.

In this later stage in life, piling responsibilities force moments like those to the bottom of the to-do list. But perhaps that is why it’s even greater to experience this in your adult life. When you’re a kid, these activities are fun. When you’re an adult, they might be necessary. An important escape from the trial and hustle of everyday life. It puts your mind at ease. It’s relaxing. It’s an excuse to put everything else on hold while you experience some much needed companionship.

Something like this can only be pulled off with the right people. That’s why it is so special to see it happen. If you wander into Central Park on the right day, you will find an incredible group of kind, welcoming, supportive young people. I think I can speak for many of them when I say that, while they may come for the come for the competition, they stay for the laughs. Something like this doesn’t go on for this long for the love of the game alone. There are other places you can go to scratch your competitive itch. You may even find other places to play Ultimate Frisbee in particular. But there is only one place to play with these people. And I think that’s why they all keep coming back.

With winter weather and holidays on the horizon, opportunities to play will be few and far between for the coming months. But I guarantee one thing. The moment that enough of them are available and willing, they will be out there. Gathering together for the competition and companionship that has become a constant in their lives.