Observing the Frisbee Folk

The Frisbee Team.

Erik Rasmussen

The Frisbee Team.

The Sunderland Quad encompasses a vast span of 60 meters. A cluster of silver maples and red oaks in front of Sherwood Hall punctuate the mackerel sky. Under this sky, a phenomenon will occur. At either end of the quad, two clans stagger themselves, one in the east and one in the west, facing each other. They have no colored markings to distinguish between them. Some wear headbands, shorts, Juniata College tee shirts. One wears jeans.

A white disk appears in one western member’s hand. He crosses his arm with disk in hand over his chest, and then jerks his arm in the opposite direction, propelling the disk over the heads of his clan and toward his opponents. On average, a disk will fly 14 meters per second, 6 meters per second faster than most leisurely birds. The battle has begun.

A member of the eastern clan swipes the disk out of the air, and her clanmates rush toward the center of the quad, where they are swiftly met by the other clan. The clans dive into formation. The disk is passed from member-to-member, traveling west. The members form opposing pairs, where one will attempt to catch the disk and the other will block them. The disk moves forward between members, until a barrier is created by the opposing clan, and the disk-holding member must throw the disk backward to another member of his clan. This procession, forward three steps and back one, continues until the disk is near the outer western edge. An eastern member catches the disk at the edge, and with a flourish, throws it to the ground. Her clanmates rally around her, shouting incoherently. The disk is returned to the western clan, and the process begins again. Depending on the length of time this occurrence lasts, this process may happen several times.

The disk must never be underestimated. It slices through the crowd and approaches the jeans clad member. He cups his hands one above the other, preparing to catch the disk by clamping his hands together just as the disk flies between them. But he is too slow, and the disk cuts through the space between his hands and lands atop the
lush grass. A victory for disk-kind. The jeans-clad member drops to the ground. He will not eat for three days.

Rain falls. While others hurry toward shelter, the two clans continue their ritual into the afternoon.