Nineteen years ago, Syrus Amedore picked up a new sport as a high school student at Champlain Valley Union High School.
This week, Amedore will stand on the sidelines as the head coach of that new sport as ultimate kicks off its first varsity season at CVU.
“I actually started playing at CVU in 1997,” said Amedore, who coaches the CVU boys ultimate team. “We had a club when I was in school but there were a lot less opportunities at the time. I love the game and it has given a lot to me.”
Ultimate joined the varsity ranks at CVU on Tuesday, April 30, when the boys and girls teams played their first game of the spring season.
“The returners, we started this as a club and we made it to a varsity sport,” said CVU junior Maryn Askew. “It’s a pretty good feat for us. It’s really exciting.”
Ultimate is played on a playing surface slightly smaller than a football field with seven players on each side. Players pass a disc (or Frisbee) down the field with the goal of getting it into the end zone. If the disc falls, it is turned over to the other team.
Three years ago, the Vermont Principals’ Association sanctioned ultimate as an exhibition sport. Vermont then became the first state in the United States to officially recognize ultimate as a varsity sport when they approved it for varsity status this year.
“Now we get that recognition that we have never gotten,” said CVU’s Claire Rocheleau.
CVU will jump right into the season after having the sport at the Hinesburg school for years – nearly 20 years by Amedore’s recollection – and have already seen the benefit of ultimate’s varsity status.
“Things haven’t changed much for us,” Amedore said. “We were treated like a varsity sport the last two years here, but it is exciting to be officially recognized throughout the state.”
Now, Vermont high school fans will get a chance to see it for themselves.
“It’s a legit sport,” Askew said. “It requires skill and hard work.”
There is no referee so players make calls on themselves and are encouraged to know all the rules.
“You have to hold yourself accountable,” said CVU’s Taylor Antoniloli. “Even on the field with other teams, you have to be respectful. It’s just a part of the game to be respectful.”
The varsity status has already had an impact for the Redhawks. After turning out 25 total players eight years ago as a club, Amedore said that this season 54 boys tried out the team.
The girls team jumped to 25 girls this season, after having just eight players last season. The addition includes second-year coach Maya Waehrer for the girls team, who is a student at the University of Vermont.
“We have definitely had a big uptick in players,” Amedore said. “This year, there will 20 boys teams.”
Members of the CVU girls ultimate team encourage those interested in learning more to come out and watch. They are hoping that varsity status helps people look past their misconceptions when it comes to ultimate.
“People think it is a super easy sport,” said CVU player Pheobe Sarandos. “You have a different mindset when you have never played before. It is just as intense as any other sport.”