Semester I Special: Matt Anderson plays, coaches Ultimate


Science teach Matt Anderson dosses the disc away from Buzz Ellsworth of the Beyonders during an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in California.

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”courtesy Matt Anderson” align=”alignright” width=”264″] Science teach Matt Anderson dosses the disc away from Buzz Ellsworth of the Beyonders during an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in California.
by Julia Moss
For many Ultimate Frisbee players, the term “team sport” connotes much more than passing to teammates and attending a few team dinners.
According to science teacher Matt Anderson, the coach of the boys’ Ultimate team and an avid player who has competed nationally, “Ultimate is all about the spirit of the game. There is this sentiment of respect and understanding, and camaraderie is important to the sport.”
Ultimate’s unique spirit and core values are part of the reason that Anderson has been passionate about the game ever since he was a freshman in college, he said. In fact, he joined an Ultimate team during his first week at Penn. State.
Anderson said he had a high school friend who started at Penn. State a year before he did. “He was playing Ultimate, and I figured that if I played Ultimate when I went there I would know people,” he explained.
The Ultimate team soon became Anderson’s niche at Penn. State. “Penn. State is a big place, and you can really get lost there. I decided that Ultimate was what I was going to do. I quickly became close with the team, and we had a great time practicing at school and traveling on weekends.”
After college, Anderson remained a dedicated player. He traveled to Australia for a year and a half, where he played in a league in Sydney and participated in additional tournaments.
Back home in the United States, Anderson became involved in Boston’s Ultimate scene, participating in various competitive teams. As a member of the team Death or Glory, Anderson twice traveled to Sarasota, Fla., where he competed in the National Championships.
Over the years, Anderson has formed friendships not only with his own teammates, but also with Ultimate players from opposing teams. “We play competitively, but never at the expense of respect for the opponent,” Anderson said. “For example, if you make a mistake or are a little rough with an opponent, no one holds it against you. There is still this sentiment of friendliness and respect off the field.”
Today, Anderson continues to play on Ultimate teams and coaches this school’s boys’ Ultimate Frisbee Team during the spring season. “I play in the Boston league and on various other teams during the summer and spring leagues and on the national level with other teams. The national level teams are club teams that you have to try out for and generally play at a more competitive level than the league teams,” he said.
As the boys’ Ultimate coach at this school, Anderson has conveyed the values of the game to his student players, he said. “A benefit of my experience coaching is trying to impress upon student players how important it is to respect their opponents,” Anderson said.
Acccording to Anderson, senior Nick Roberts “lives and breathes Ultimate.”
Roberts, who has been a member of the team since he was a freshman, said, “Matty’s a great coach. He spends a lot of his time with the team and has a lot of insight. He’s been my coach for the last three years, and he’s really helped my game and my experience I’ve had on the team.”
Roberts said that as a coach, Anderson emphasizes Spirt of the Game.
“Spirit of the Game is what we call the integrity that every player upholds as they play the game,” Roberts explained. “The Spirit of the Game is what makes Ultimate such a unique sport and culture.”
Roberts added that Anderson works to ensure that all members of the team demonstrate Spirit of the Game. “Matty and our assistant coach will sit people or punish them somehow if a player is out of line and playing without any Spirit. It is natural for arguments to get heated, but when kids are playing completely out of line, Matt has showed that the Spirit of the Game being upheld and the respect for the game matters a lot more than a win or a loss,” Roberts said.
Anderson’s passion for Ultimate inspires the students he coaches to pursue the sport.
In addition to valuing the spirit of Ultimate, Roberts, like most of his fellow players, is passionate about the physical aspects of the sport, he said. “There’s also no better feeling than laying out and catching a disc in the end zone, or jumping over another player and snagging it from them,” he said.
Junior Mac Hecht has also played Ultimate for this school since he was a freshman and plays for multiple club teams through which he has competed in Junior Nationals.
“One of my favorite things about Ultimate is that there are no referees, and the game therefore depends on good sportsmanship and Spirit of the Game,” he said.
Hecht added, “Ultimate is also great because of the sense of community that comes with playing the sport. I know people all over the country who I’ve played with or against on multiple occasions.”
In the end, Anderson said, “Ultimate is a good life lesson.”