When Michele Murphy left her job as a systems administrator this year, she told her former employers that they should post her job on www.wudi.org. But the site isn’t another Internet job-search bank like Monster.com or HotJobs.com: It’s the official Website of the Westchester ultimate-Frisbee summer league. “A ton of ultimate players are involved in technology,” explains Murphy, who moved on to oversee the systems at Regis High School.
As New York’s share of computer jobs has increased, so has its population of ultimate-Frisbee players, who can be found playing in summer leagues in Westchester and northern New Jersey, and in pickup games in Central Park’s North Meadow and Prospect Park’s Nethermead. “Ultimate has always been popular in the Bay Area,” says Allon Katz, a product manager at DoubleClick. “As a result of the Internet economy developing out there, it sort of expanded beyond.”
Ultimate’s origins on college campuses may also be responsible for its information-age cachet. “It has a nontraditional, non-football-player kind of mentality,” says Kevin Lange, a graphic designer for GE Capital’s intranet, who plays in the Westchester ultimate league. “I started playing in graduate school,” says Phil Mackenzie, a cryptographer at Lucent and leader of the Northern New Jersey club team. “We had a pickup game in the computer-science department.”
Could ultimate become to technology workers what golf is to advertising executives? “It can be a jobs pipeline,” confirms David Babkow, a lawyer for Tradeline.com, who has gotten interviews through ultimate Frisbee. DoubleClick’s Katz has recruited some potential hires on the field. “The type of people who play ultimate are the type of people who like start-ups,” he explains. “The whole idea of ultimate is that it is self-regulated, sort of idealistic, and yet still extremely competitive and fast-paced.”
At Concrete Media, a Website builder based in Chelsea, the CEO, COO, and CKO – chief knowledge officer – all played on the same team at Hampshire College. Now they use the terminology of the playing field to motivate employees. ” ‘Spirit of the Game’ is this Frisbee philosophy,” says general manager Kit Cody. “It’s about having mutual respect with the people you’re playing with. It’s kind of a covenant. And it’s very much how we want to work with our clients.”