Heidi Pomfret '92: Disc Jock
By Shira J. Boss
Heidi Pomfret '92 trains
for the World Games.
PHOTO: JESS MILANO
Ultimate Frisbee has come a long way as a competitive sport in
the past decade, and so has Heidi Pomfret '92.
Pomfret was one of five women selected to the United States
team that earned a silver medal at the World Games in Akita, Japan,
in August — the first time Frisbee players were invited to a
multi-sport, international competition.
Pomfret and her teammates lost to Canada in the finals of the
seven-nation competition. Members of the International Olympic
Committee attended the games to assess whether to include the sport
in future Olympics.
Ultimate Frisbee is a growing sport that is now played by an
estimated 150,000 people in 42 countries. Pomfret is a former
soccer player whose interest in the sport was sparked during her
first year at Columbia, when she saw a flier recruiting for the
club team. She ended up devoting most of her non-academic time to
Ultimate Frisbee, traveling out of town to competitions on many
Pomfret moved to Colorado after graduation, she joined a club in
Boulder that has won its regional tournament for the past four
years. In addition to playing with the club, she coaches the
University of Colorado women's team while attending her second year
of pre-med studies. She decided to go to medical school after
working for several years as a victim's advocate at an anti-violent
crime organization and at the district attorney's
Ultimate Frisbee is played by seven-member teams on a
football-sized field. Frisbees are passed among teammates, who
score a goal by catching the Frisbee in the end zone. It's a
combination of soccer and basketball and requires similar skills as
those sports and lacrosse. "It's non-contact in the same way that
basketball is non-contact," Pomfret says. "It's physical, but you
don't tackle." Like tennis, the games are not timed but end when
one team reaches 15 points and beats the other team by at least two
Unique to the game is that there are no referees. The game is
self-officiated by the players, according to a code of conduct
called the Spirit of the Game. "That's a big draw for me —
seeing people play and play with strength of character," Pomfret
says. If a player has been fouled, he or she calls the foul. The
offender either agrees and there is a penalty, or he or she can
contest, in which case the game backs up to the previous
USA with World Games Mascots in Akita, Japan. Pomfret is between
works amazingly well, especially in the women's game," Pomfret
says. "In the men's game, it has had some problems. Men are a
little harsher with each other, and for a few years there was less
value put on sportsmanship. That has been changing back to the
Spirit of the Game."
Recently, the game has added optional observers who will call
whether a player is in or out of bounds.
Ultimate Frisbee players don't play with Frisbees. Frisbee is a
registered trademark of the Wham-o Company, and that's not who the
Ultimate players buy from anymore. They now buy from a company
called Discraft, and what they play with are called flying discs.
Regulation discs look like regular Frisbees but are slightly
put together the U.S. team for the World Games, the Ultimate
Players Association, the sport's governing body in the United
States, solicited nominations from clubs around the country. The
nominees were required to submit lengthy applications that included
essay questions about strategy and how the players have helped
their team and the sport. "It was like a college application,"
Pomfret says. "It was astonishing and awesome to be chosen." After
considerable fund raising and three training camps during long
weekends around the country, the U.S. team traveled to Japan for
the opening ceremonies and competition.
was amazing," Pomfret says. "It was like being — it was being
— a world-class athlete."