Two sports involving flying discs are gaining popularity on the Newman campus.
“There are two different things going on with flying discs: ultimate Frisbee and disc golf,” said Newman University Chaplain Adam Grelinger, who is advising the new Disc Golf Club on campus.
The difference between the two sports is that disc golf uses smaller discs and plays like golf, more of an individual sport. The holes are baskets with chains that catch the flying discs and there are different discs for different ranges.
Ultimate Frisbee plays more like a football game; a team sport with a rectangular field and two end zones. A pass caught in the opponent’s end zone results in a score.
Junior Steven Nguyen is playing a large part in the flying discs trend on campus.
Nguyen started playing a few years ago and enjoys the sport for its inclusivity; anyone of any athletic ability can enjoy the game, he said.
This semester, Nguyen helped form and now leads the Disc Golf Club. He was also a driving force in Campus Ministry’s efforts to connect with local high school youth groups through games of ultimate Frisbee.
He started the Disc Golf Club in fall 2020 because, along with his enjoyment of the sport, he sees it growing in popularity across the country.
The idea for the club came from an organic effort to play ultimate Frisbee games with friends during the summer.
Students gathered every Thursday to play a game, and once school began, the group gathered on Saturdays to play.
“I noticed that people were bonding extremely quickly so I seized this opportunity by bringing it to Newman,” said Nguyen.
The club plays games twice a week at various courses around Wichita and has group lunches every other month. Nguyen said it’s an easy sport to get into and encourages anyone interested to contact him or Grelinger to join.
“Our rounds of golf are fun and everyone bursts out in laughter multiple times throughout the round but we also have experienced players in the club who will help anyone improve their game,” said Nguyen.
The sport is inexpensive and the club is sponsored by a local store that gives them a discount on equipment.
Grelinger is no newbie to the sport. His experience with disc golf is not as extensive as his experience with ultimate Frisbee.
“I’ve only been playing disc golf for three years, which is longer than almost all of the students. They are much better than me, though, which hurts,” he said jokingly.
His ultimate Frisbee experience, however, goes back to his high school days and extends through his time in seminary where he played on an intramural team.
He enjoys jumping in on the games, especially the ultimate Frisbee games that Campus Ministry hosts.
“I play with them as often as I can because it is a great way for me to get to know students and get outside and be active,” said Grelinger.
Nguyen, a campus minister, found his love of the Catholic faith and his love of the game could marry quite easily.
“I am deeply in love with my Catholic faith so as a campus minister, I easily implemented (ultimate Frisbee) as an activity that we could do,” he said.
Campus Ministry has been extremely active this year, creating fun and interesting activities in order to gain more student involvement. Ultimate Frisbee is one of their favorites.
This initiative spans beyond Newman and into the Wichita community.
Nguyen and Grelinger have set up games of ultimate Frisbee with multiple high school youth groups in the Wichita area, starting with Nguyen’s former high school, Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
Nguyen used his connections to youth coordinators and priests in the area from his time as a Totus Tuus missionary to set up the games with others in the community.
“As an education major, I wanted to try and reach out to the youth of the diocese, and luckily I have previously established connections,” he said.
Some games are played at Newman and others at the youth groups’ schools.
“Everyone has tons of fun because most of it is noncompetitive and we get to talk to them about life as a college student. We even had students ask about athletics and scholarships because they were now interested in Newman as a possibility for their college careers,” said Nguyen.
Grelinger echoed the fact that students not only enjoy themselves but also begin building a connection with Newman University.
“I’ve seen some great conversations after the events about Newman athletics, programs and Campus Ministry events,” he said.
At the end of each ultimate Frisbee game night, they play one competitive game and the winner gets a golden Frisbee as an award. At the end of the competitions, the group prays night prayer in closing.
“There is not a set formula to what we do,” said Grelinger. “We mostly join them on their normal youth group night and conform to their normal schedule, though normally we provide a trophy to be won. Afterward, having competed with and against the students, they are normally eager to talk with our students about college life and Newman.”
Campus Ministry played ultimate Frisbee with three youth groups this semester and has plans to do at least three more in the spring.