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The Ultimate Afterschool Program: Ultimate Frisbee at the Al-Iman School

NC State students teaching ultimate frisbee

By: John Dunning ‘20 business administration


“It’s fun, it’s competitive and it’s backed by a great community of people. I think it’s really important to share the skills that I’ve learned with anyone who wants to know about ultimate [frisbee],” said Carmen Tormey ‘19, majoring in biological and agricultural engineering.

Last year, the Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team began teaching their sport to the students at the Al-Iman school, a local Islamic school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Their efforts focused mainly on middle school age students with a group of about 30.

“We got involved by offering clinics in addition to our Thursday night showcase games, called Atlantic Coast Showcase,” said Tormey. “Lots of the same kids we had taught at the clinics joined the after-school club and were really excited about it. They referenced the clinics a lot asking if we would get to do similar things, or say things like ‘oh! I remember this from the clinic last year.’ ”

A year later the team’s efforts to grow the sport in the community seem to be paying off. As of Fall 2018, the Triangle Ultimate organization received a grant that allowed the organization to start ultimate frisbee programs in schools that did not have the sport available and thanks to Tormey and her team’s effort, the Al-Iman school became one of the benefactors.

As co-team captain, Tormey is directly involved with the clinics on a regular basis. She and her teammates have been meeting with the eager-to-learn-students at Al-Iman once a week for five weeks.

“I have been running an after-school club with my co-captain of the NC State club team for kids ranging from fifth to eighth grade,” said Tormey. “We run them through different drills to teach frisbee skills and have the kids play games. We try to provide a fun and informative atmosphere.”

Ultimate Frisbee in RaleighTormey feels what she’s doing is something that can really have a positive impact on the kids and the community. Giving the young students an opportunity to get outside and be active improves their overall wellness according to the American Council on Exercise and allows them to create new connections among themselves.

Beyond this year, Tormey has her eyes set on the future with two goals in mind. The first is to get the Al-Iman club participants in an ultimate league based on the response of numerous young frisbee players excited by the idea of competition.

“There is a middle school ultimate league that’s open to Triangle middle schools and I’d like to see the Al-Iman school create a team to play in that league,” said Tormey. “Luckily, I think this is probably going to happen this winter.”

Tormey’s second goal is to increase girls participation in the sport of ultimate frisbee, a sport traditionally male-dominated.

“Most teams have boys who play, so something I’m really interested in getting more young girls interested in the sport. Since it is a sport dominated by boys, girls are often hesitant to join,” said Tormey.

So far, Tormey seems to be seeing good initial returns on her effort to increase young girls participation.

“There’s actually a pretty good turn out of girls in the after school club. A lot of them had gone through the clinics last year, which gave them some more confidence to join the after-school club and bring their friends with them. I think getting more girls involved in the sport is all about offering more opportunities for just girls to play at clinics.”

It’s Never Too Late to Try Something New

Tormey was a freshman in college when she encountered ultimate for the first time.

“It was a fun Friday afternoon thing [at miller fields] and I met a girl who was on the club team while I was there. She invited me out to check the club out and I never left,” said Tormey.

Her involvement and appreciation of the sport has only increased since she started playing. After joining the club, she also began getting more involved around the Triangle and played in other local leagues. She explained that she has learned quite of leadership and ultimate frisbee skills during the last few years and now is a captain for the women’s club team. She even had the opportunity to play on a semi-professional team, the Raleigh Radiance, this summer.

When asked if what she felt she was doing at the Al-Iman school was significant she responded: “Absolutely. Ultimate frisbee doesn’t get a lot of hype, but getting kids involved when they are younger will really help grow the popularity of the sport. It’s a fun and competitive sport that is backed by a great community of people. I think it’s really important to share the skills that I have learned with anyone who wants to know about ultimate.”