The Gators continue to represent well as the spring sports season starts to wind down. Tennis, golf, track, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and, ahem… ultimate have all competed for, won, or are currently competing for a national championships this year. Yes, you read that right… Florida Ultimate.
While ultimate is not a part of the UAA’s roster at UF, nor an NCAA regulated sport, its rate of growth in the US and world-wide is almost unrivaled. The internet even says so! At UF, ultimate is no different in its growing popularity; however it is quite unique in its quickly-obtained success on the national level. In 2006, while Gators were piling up championships and dancing awards, Florida Ultimate, led by Tim Gehret, that year’s Callahan Award (Collegiate MVP) winner, took the College Division by surprise and claimed its first national championship. In 2010, led by Brodie Smith and Chris Gibson, the Gators claimed their second in five years. This past weekend, the Gators competed at Nationals in Boulder, but were unable to repeat as champions.
While it is not widely known, competing for championships in college is no small feat. Over 450 teams compete in the Open (Ultimate’s progressive label for what is primarily Men’s) division. Only 20 teams make it to the national tournament via a progression through a sanctioned regular season, sectional, and regional tournament.
So, how did Florida break through to become a perennial contender? “We got serious about the game, about training,” says Brodie Smith, the 2010 runner up for the Callahan award. “I’m not sure what it was like before I got here , but we were more focused on winning the game and not as much about winning the party.” Much like any other program at Florida, ultimate team members undergo a rigorous conditioning program to get in playing shape. Because many of the players are getting their first real education of competitive ultimate on the team, there is a learning curve, which promotes a condition of seniority on the team. “Your first two years, there’s a slim chance of playing. You buy into it, you sit on the bench, you learn, and train,” says Smith.
Florida also employs a strategy that focuses on getting a maximum level of performance from a small core of players, especially during the higher level matches. This is a real tribute to the conditioning program, considering that ultimate requires an almost constant motion of aggressive sprinting on both sides of the disc.
Brodie Smith is as intense as any collegiate or professional athlete out there. Not only is he passionate about the competition of ultimate, but he has also become a noteworthy promoter for the sport through his YouTube Channel, brodiesmith21. His original Frisbee trick shot video (seen below), an alternate or even rebuttal to the viral trick basketball shots that have been featured on ESPN, has over half a million views and counting. When asked about some of the more difficult shots to make on the video, Smith said the final shot of the video in the stadium took the longest. They set up a few different days during the two-weeks of filming and Brodie would throw until his arm and shoulder were sore. The shot that made the video, however, was on the first take of that day. The can and camera were set for mere seconds before the disc landed in!
Other videos on his YouTube page feature instruction (Bro Tips) and sick highlights. While the trick shot videos are not directly representing the game of ultimate per se, he and his teammates are exhibiting the throwing skills and the love of and even addiction to the game as ultimate players.
Smith graduated and completed his collegiate eligibility in 2010. Currently, he is a teacher at Eastside High School in Gainesville. On the weekends, he is training and conditioning with coach Tim Morrill in Jacksonville. This summer, Brodie moves out to Austin to join DoubleWide, an Open Club team with aspirations of going to the ultimate Worlds Championship via winning Nationals in Sarasota this October.
Brodie has a great desire to continue educating others on the speed, skill, and competitiveness of ultimate with an approach that combines humor and sincerity. He is another compliment to the great tradition of athletes at the University of Florida. Stay tuned to brodiesmith21 for more fun, instruction, and hopefully, some notable guests in the future. Since he’s currently locked out in the NFL, someone let Tebow know that Brodie wants to see if he can huck it deep!