On the westernmost field here on campus located between the turf near the Athletic Center and the Route 208 edge of campus, you will find a unique club that showcases an incredible level of inter-inclusivity between different groups of SUNY New Paltz students. Having their practices on Tuesday and Friday evenings as well as Sunday afternoons, the New Paltz Ultimate Frisbee team, more commonly referred to as “GUNX” has brought students of incredibly diverse backgrounds and has transformed many of the participant’s overall lives into the process for years since its inception.
Established in 2005, GUNX has always had the men’s and women’s teams practice with each other and has since continued pushing the boundaries for how a campus sports team or club can operate.
“I initially joined the team to try new sports,” explained squad captain and fourth-year student Ash Schuman. “I had a friend who was joining and I was an athlete in high school, but we didn’t have the sports here that I did in high school, so I decided it was worth a shot. I think at the time I didn’t take it necessarily as seriously. Though definitely now it’s really something that I take very seriously, and it’s gonna stick with me for a really long time.”
As a captain, Schuman gets to pass on her skills and knowledge of the sport and the sense of home to other people as well. “To be able to continue spreading positivity, especially uplifting other women in the sport, I think that’s really important … and that’s definitely a large topic that’s coming right now in the sport, especially in the last couple years where we are trying to find more inclusivity for non-binary and trans people in the sport,” she added.
Schuman also shared how present and supportive the GUNX alumni community has been for her, and the new doors that being affiliated with GUNX had opened. “There’s also a huge community outside of just our college team,” she said. “There are so many people in the area and many of them actually graduated from New Paltz and played for GUNX and are just incredibly supportive. I think something that’s really cool about that is I’ve met people through the sport that also can help me academically. I’m an education student and I did my fieldwork in somebody’s classroom that I met through the sport playing in the community.”
GUNX competes in tournaments against other Ultimate Frisbee clubs in SUNY as well as against other universities in the region such as Bard, Vassar and Marist. The club has even traveled as far as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to go up against the most passionate and skilled ultimate frisbee representatives from schools across the country
“What the frizzy team means to me, at least for the New Paltz College team is fostering a very safe community that everybody feels welcome coming to, but also at the same time, trying to keep it competitive and fun and go to tournaments, win games and play hard but also make sure everybody’s friends here, fostering like a big family. And that’s one of the most important things here,” explained fellow squad captain and fourth-year, Mirsad Markovic. “I have a bunch of my friends who come from the frisbee team. When I first came to college, my freshman year of 2019, I joined a team, made all my friends there and then that’s why I chose to be captain this year to kind of pay back to the club and make a good community here again.”
“It’s just something that is stable in my life that whatever I’m dealing with, whether that’s academics or anything else, I always have these people to come back to and to do something that’s just fun for a moment,” continued Markovic, when asked about what GUNX and being a part of the club had meant for him personally in his college endeavors.
Since its first season almost 20 years ago, the New Paltz Ultimate Frisbee Club has created a wonderful atmosphere of balanced competitiveness, inclusiveness and good sportsmanship, while also building very strong bonds between the participants and even the participants of years passed who still want to help and be involved in the club. Based on what is seen, it is not a far stretch to say that GUNX is one of the most passionate clubs you will find on campus.