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Club Sports

Different games, different athletes, same commitment

  • 7 min to read

SMOKE JUMP ULTIMATE FRISBEE

Seven men lined up at the goal line, staring down another seven players 70 yards away. As the disc was flung through the air, the two teams dashed onto the field, watching the Frisbee, ready to get their chance to “floss” or “sky” one another.

This is Smokejump, UM’s premier ultimate Frisbee team.

“Floss” and “sky” are both terms used to describe a player making a great play or jumping higher than their opponents to catch the disc.

Ultimate Frisbee is played on a 70-yard field with 10-yard end zones on each side. A team wins by reaching the set point limit, usually 15, and winning by two points, creating tense back-and-forth action.

Ultimate uses two primary throws: a forehand and a backhand. It also incorporates field-length hammer throws, when the disc is thrown with the arm motion of throwing a baseball.

The defensive schemes are almost identical to football, playing man and zone coverages. The offensive has three different strategies: vertical, stack and split.

Around 50 potential team members tried out for the team at the beginning of the semester, one of whom was freshman Noah Fields.

Fields hadn’t played ultimate before and didn’t think it would be as challenging as high school soccer had been. He was expecting something more like intramural sports, but when he arrived to see a series of agility drills set out by the captains, he realized it was the real deal.

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UM Smoke Jump freshman Noah Fields.

Five weeks in, Fields has become a Frisbee junkie. He praised the apolitical atmosphere and the captains’ ability to teach the rookies.

“Instead of starting with people that are at my skill level and working up with them, we are thrown right into the mix that are throwing sick passes and making crazy layouts,” Fields said.

Senior captain Ty Lynch described ultimate as a composite of college sports.

“Ultimate is if you take the movements of soccer, with the endzones of football, and had to score by catching the disc but not running it in,” Lynch said.

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UM Smoke Jump Captain Ty Lynch.

Lynch’s favorite aspect of ultimate is the self-officiating on the field.  

“Spirit of the game is our No. 1 rule in ultimate,” said Lynch. “Everyone needs to know all the rules. Don’t take advantage of one another and play with honor.”

A college ultimate team progresses through sectionals, regionals and then nationals. Each tournament is pool play with three to five games played on Saturday and a bracket created on Sunday.

Up until you reach nationals, each game is officiated by both teams with no assigned officials.

As their practice scrimmage drew to a close, Lynch tossed the disc downfield into a group of three players. Senior Chaz Harris sprinted into the endzone to catch the frisbee over the defender.

“Get skied!” several teammates yelled.

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA HURLING

The Montana Grizzly hurling team held a five-point lead over Purdue at the University of Colorado Boulder field on May 20, 2018. A Purdue player stole the ball just past midfield and flung it to a teammate with one minute left to play.

The Purdue forward delivered a shot into the Grizzlies’ net for three points. The scoreboard had eclipsed the 50-minute mark with approximately 20 seconds left for the Griz to hold onto the lead in regulation.

Donncha Ó Murchú, 23, lived in Ireland before attending the University of Montana and joining the club team. He loves the intensity of the game.

“I grew up playing the game as soon as I could walk. It was passed on from generation to generation in my family,” said Murchú. “ I was born to play it for the rest of my life.”

Hurling is the national game of Ireland, originating as a way of training warriors for battle. The earliest known game was recorded in 1272 BCE.

The sport uses a hurley (the stick) and  a sliotar (the ball) to score points either in or above the H-shaped net. To score, a player can throw the sliotar into the net for three points, or between the posts above for one point.

The hurling goal is a combination of a soccer goal and rugby posts.

A player must either receive a teammate’s pass or scoop the ball off the ground with his or her stick. Running with the ball in hand is only permitted for a couple steps before hav

The Montana Grizzly hurling team held a five-point lead over Purdue at the University of Colorado Boulder field on May 20, 2018. A Purdue player stole the ball just past midfield and flung it to a teammate with one minute left to play.

The Purdue forward delivered a shot into the Grizzlies’ net for three points. The scoreboard had eclipsed the 50-minute mark with approximately 20 seconds left for the Griz to hold onto the lead in regulation.

Donncha Ó Murchú, 23, lived in Ireland before attending the University of Montana and joining the club team. He loves the intensity of the game.

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Montana Grizzlies Hurling team member Donncha Ó Murchú.

“I grew up playing the game as soon as I could walk. It was passed on from generation to generation in my family,” said Murchú. “ I was born to play it for the rest of my life.”

Hurling is the national game of Ireland, originating as a way of training warriors for battle. The earliest known game was recorded in 1272 BCE.

The sport uses a hurley (the stick) and  a sliotar (the ball) to score points either in or above the H-shaped net. To score, a player can throw the sliotar into the net for three points, or between the posts above for one point.

The hurling goal is a combination of a soccer goal and rugby posts.

A player must either receive a teammate’s pass or scoop the ball off the ground with his or her stick. Running with the ball in hand is only permitted for a couple steps before having to either balance the ball on the end of the hurley, pass or strike the ball.

Traditional teams consist of 15 players, but because of restricted field size in the U.S., most play with 11 or 13 players. A regulation hurling field is about three times larger than a soccer field.

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Montana Grizzlies Hurling team member Taylor Walker.

“The sport is full-contact baseball and everybody gets a bat,” 40-year-old Taylor Walker said.

Walker started playing on the team after some of his friends insisted that he join. Once he began attending the University, he embraced being one of the older players on the team.

He wanted to be a part of an organization that could become a community around campus while striving for excellence. Walker believes the team has exceeded that expectation on and off the field.

“We are the premier hurling team in the United States and we are proud of it,” Walker said.

After going undefeated the previous year to win the tournament, Montana’s goalie hurled the ball downfield past the Purdue defenders to win the 2017-18 National Championship 16-14. The Grizzlies rushed the field while a player from Purdue smashed his hurley over his knee in frustration.

The Grizzlies have won four national championships in their five years of becoming a program.

HELLGATE ROLLER DERBY

Every Monday and Wednesday, the Hellgate Roller Derby team practices at the Sovereign Hope Church. HRD was founded in 2009, originally as the Hellgate Rollergirls, and has built a community in Missoula since its arrival, holding its bouts at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

The derby season stretches from February to early October. For Rebecca Ballard, a non-traditional graduate student, time commitment was the hardest thing to adapt to once she joined the team.

Ballard started rollerskating five years ago. It wasn’t until she attended a skating bootcamp hosted by HRD that she began playing.

She originally joined because of the community and connections, but stayed for the love of the sport, particularly the open atmosphere.

“It’s so open and welcoming,” said Ballard. “You don’t have to be tiny and fast or big and strong, it doesn’t matter.”

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Hellgate Roller Derby team member Rebecca Ballard.

Roller derby is watching the most violent foot race, but on a smaller track and much faster.

Derby consists of three positions and five players — one jammer, three blockers and a pivot. A jammer wears a star cap on her helmet and scores points by lapping the opposing team’s players.

The pack is made of six blockers, three from each team, who  line up along the straightaway of the track while the jammer is positioned behind.

The blockers form the pack and play offense and defense simultaneously, hindering the opposing team’s jammer and helping their own team’s. A pivot wears a striped helmet cover, indicating she can accept a “star pass,” which is when the current jammer passes the star to the pivot, allowing her to become the new jammer.

This sport gets physical and encourages full contact within legal means, including hitting members of the opposing team with shoulders and hips.

Roller derby is played in two periods of 30 minutes, with each team fielding five members for multiple “jams.” Each jam is a two-minute race between both teams to see which jammer can score the most points.

Each jammer must pass through the pack before she can start earning points. The first jammer to move past the pack becomes the lead jammer and earns the ability to call off the jam early by repeatedly placing her hands on her hips.

This is strategic, allowing the jammer to score points and call off the jam before the opponent has a chance to score. If the lead jammer racks up points while the other can’t maneuver through the pack or falls down, there is no reason to call off the jam before the two-minute period is over.

Freshman Fallyne Hoerner recently joined HRD after skating with the junior league team, the Hellgate Hellions. Joining HRD, she explained, typically takes three to six months in order to learn the team’s scenarios and schemes.

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Hellgate Roller Derby team member Fallyne Hoerner.

Hoerner’s footwork has been the most challenging part of learning roller derby, despite her small demeanor. She said the open atmosphere, in combination with players not having to play to their own body type, is the best part of the sport.  

Because of this diversity, the team has become a family.

“It’s a new family. I talk to these girls every week, almost every day,” said Hoerner. “And you don’t have to be a certain athletic type.”

Because of this diversity, the team has become a family.

“It’s a new family. I talk to these girls every week, almost every day,” said Hoerner. “And you don’t have to be a certain athletic type.”