NYIT Ultimate club team set to launch inaugural season

NYIT Ultimate club team set to launch inaugural season

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Alexis Sarabia wrestled on a boys' team and competed in swimming while attending high school in Queens. Now a freshman at NYIT, Sarabia was looking for an athletic activity when she spotted a Facebook post advertising a startup Ultimate Frisbee team on campus.

"NYIT didn't really have the sports that I played back in high school," Sarabia said. "So I figured, 'It's a new team, let me try it.' It looked fun."

Short on experience but with considerable enthusiasm, NYIT's Ultimate club team has been practicing daily on SAC Field despite the harsh winter. The team plans to play its first-ever scrimmage against another school, potentially against Farmingdale State, later this month and open its regular-season intercollegiate schedule in March.

The startup meshes well with NYIT director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation Dan Vélez's goal of expanding the club sports offerings on campus. NYIT Athletics also launched an eSports team in the past year.

Recreation supervisor Rob Isme distributed official uniforms to the Ultimate players on Friday.

"It definitely will be an uphill battle," said freshman Jan Iglesias, acknowledging the challenge of facing established teams from other colleges and universities.

Iglesias originally conceived of starting a team while tossing a disc in the quad last semester. He originally hails from the Philippines and attended high school in Somerset, N.J. He also is perhaps the lone experienced member of the team. Iglesias has been playing Ultimate for seven years and even participated on a professional club team called DEVYL.

The field is longer and narrower than a football field, but the goal similarly is to score by passing a disc to a teammate in the end zone.

Sportsmanship is paramount in Ultimate. The honor system is used for calls, with no independent referees.

Iglesias noted that only one or two of the 24 players on NYIT's team had experience with the sport before signing up, and it was "very minimal."

"We have athletic people, so it's really easy for them to pick up this sport," Iglesias added. "It's easy for anyone to pick up really."

Devin Blandino, a freshman from Saddle Brook, N.J., who is serving as the team's manager, captain and coach, noted: "I don't really have much experience. Jan's still sort of teaching me."

Joel Stuart, a freshman from Trinidad & Tobago, is a former soccer player. He now is the defensive line captain and a poacher — a position in which he's charged with occupying the space between his opponents and the disc.

"It looked interesting," Stuart said. "I wanted to be part of an athletic team here. It was nice that we started up. I was a goalkeeper in soccer, so diving around and throwing myself, that's a similarity. Other than that, there's not that much."