Stanford men’s ultimate frisbee team flies high

A plastic frisbee sliced through the air as members of Stanford men’s ultimate frisbee team, known to members as Bloodthirsty, practiced at Johnson Field. Sprinting across the turf toward the end zone, players of the club sport called out different plays as they attempted to score a goal.

This year, at the University’s request, the team’s official name is no longer “Bloodthirsty.” However, the team is mulling over names that pay homage to the spirit of “Bloodthirsty,” including “The Hemo-goblins” and “Bid-thirsty,” which references their wish to get a bid to attend the national tournament. Leo Jacoby ’25, one of the team’s captains, said the name change is “kind of a bummer,” because Bloodthirsty has been the name since the “very beginning.”

This Saturday, the team traveled up to Berkeley for their first match-up of the season against U.C. Berkeley’s men’s ultimate team in the California Memorial Stadium. Although they didn’t win, “the experience of getting to play such a great team in a massive stadium was incredible,” said Joshua Koch ’27, a freshman member of the team.

The men’s ultimate frisbee team was founded in 1980 and won the inaugural National College Championship in 1984. Since then, the team has competed in several more national championships, last winning in 2002. This past spring break, the team traveled to St. Louis for the Huck Finn tournament, where they played teams like Northwestern, Washington University and Colorado State.  

According to Jacoby, the men’s ultimate frisbee team currently has 24 members, and players range from frosh to coterminal masters students. As a club sport, the team has four volunteer coaches who lead the players in tri-weekly practices with drills, conditioning and mini-scrimmages.

These practices can be as thrilling as the games themselves: “Practices are pretty electric,” member Alex Ecker ’26 said. 

The team has a tight-knit culture in which all new members are bestowed a “frisbee name” by the senior members. Freshmen Max Lee ’27 and Koch were named “Charmin” and “Grizzle” respectively. 

For Koch, these team connections transcend the playing field. “I especially enjoy being on this team because of the people and community that we have created,” he said.

Shiley Einav ’24 M.S. ’25 appreciates the problem-solving aspects of the game, especially when playing offense against zone defense. “It’s fun to figure out the puzzle of what the specific zone variation is allowing you to do and then just chipping away slowly and methodically with smaller throws until you get across the field,” he said.

Many members played other sports before starting ultimate frisbee, such as soccer and basketball. The team’s philosophy to recruiting players, Jacoby said, is that “you can teach throwing, but not athleticism.” According to Koch, who has played ultimate frisbee since middle school, the “most important skill to succeed in frisbee is awareness of the field and knowing where you should be,” followed by throwing ability and athleticism.

Lee said that ultimate frisbee is like “no-dribble basketball.” The disc cannot be held for more than ten seconds, and a player may not run when holding the disc. Teammates will throw the disc and attempt to catch it in the opponent’s end zone to earn a point. The team will lose possession if the disc touches the ground. 

The result is a sport that often goes down to the wire. “Games are almost always time-based as well as score-based,” Lee said.

Ultimate frisbee also has a unique vocabulary. According to Jacoby, to “sky” somebody, is to jump up and catch the frisbee over an opponent, somewhat similar to mossing in football or posterizing in basketball. Another phrase, to “bounce it,” means to “move quickly and laterally across the field,” Jacoby said. 

One of Lee’s favorite plays was in a game where he caught a “huck,” or a disc that was thrown deep, in which he “skyed three guys to score the goal.” Einav’s favorite frisbee memory goes back two years ago, in which he scored his first goal against Cornell “on a deep run and great throw,” after which the whole team rushed the field to congratulate him.   

Stanford will be hosting the NorCal D-1 College Men’s Conference at Johnson Field this weekend, with local teams including Cal, UCSC and UCD.