Raptor Rundown


SCRIMAGE: Martinez joins The Vertikills for a day and plays a practice match while they run their plays for upcoming matches. There are four cuts that the team practices which are strike, the around, the cut-back, and the deep-cut. photo by JC Ramirez Delgadillo.

Victor Martinez, Staffer

In my experience, or lack thereof, with playing with frisbee, I have never actually taken the time to improve my throwing or catching technique in any meaningful way. From the time I was a toddler, barely grasping the edges of a frisbee, up until fifth grade physical education class, I only knew one method of handling a disc: grab it around its edges, twist the hips back and forth, release, and hope for the best. 

With my lack of experience, I was anxious and unprepared to pick up a frisbee once again and train with Vertikills, LASA’s ultimate frisbee team. Not only did I not know what to expect from a sport I knew little to nothing about, but the only aspect I felt sure about was that whatever awaited me on the practice field was sure to end with me making a fool of myself. 

Upon joining Vertikills’ practice on Oct. 28, however, I was relieved to see that the atmosphere on the field was a welcoming one and that every member seemed like they were a part of a cohesive and enthusiastic team. Within the first few minutes, I was able to join in with the team’s pre-practice activities, where students had already begun passing a frisbee to one another. It was an even more pleasant surprise to discover that, with the exception of a handful of lopsided passes, my throwing and catching skills were remarkably not as bad as I expected but still paled in comparison to the rest of the team.

With a more confident, optimistic attitude, I felt ready to join the rest of the team in their activities. As the raptor band and football team held practices concurrently in the near distance, we started a series of dynamic warm ups and stretches, ranging from a straight leg march to sprints. 

We then moved into practicing the four cuts, which are the different attacking runs made in a game. The first is the strike, which is where the cutter–someone who primarily runs and opens up options for throwers to pass the disc – runs upline to catch the frisbee. The second is the around, where the cutter moves to one side of the disc handler then switches sides to catch. The third the cut-back, where the cutter fakes an advance up but moves back to catch, and finally the deep-cut, primarily used for end zone plays, which covers the most yardage of the cuts. Since each cut entailed a different throwing grip, I struggled to keep my throws consistently on target. Luckily, I was able to receive pointers from juniors Will Basham and Vance Mader on how to fix my grip and catching, which considerably improved my performance for the rest of practice.

After a water break, co-captains senior Luke Jackson, Mader, and sophomore Rachel Joy-Rocha gave a demonstration of iso – short for isolation plays – using cones, which would be the last activity of the practice. An iso is an end zone play where the offense aligns vertically in the end zone, and a cutter then proceeds to cut back to catch and score in the end zone. Although I could barely wrap my head around the terminology used and overall strategy, I could only see clear senses of understanding from the rest of the team. I was impressed not only by the team’s skills, but also their deep understanding of strategy as well.