DURHAM, N.C. — Ultimate Frisbee is one of the many unconventional sports on the rise in not just the United States, but also in North Carolina.

In Durham, one of the nation's best teams doesn't just practice, but it dominates.

The Jordan High School club ultimate Frisbee team, the Dirty Birds, is in Rockford, Illinois this weekend, and is looking to win its first national title.

What You Need To Know

  • Ultimate Frisbee is one of the many unconventional sports on the rise in North Carolina

  • The Jordan High School club ultimate Frisbee team is competing this weekend for a national title

  • The team has won three consecutive state championships

The Dirty Birds won North Carolina state titles for each of the last three years and have won five total since the team was created in the 1990s. 

"It's sort of little bit of an expectation right now that we're able to do well, but it's just the hard work we put in, in practice," Jordan High School junior Devak Coltrane said. 

Coltrane is like many of the kids who attend Jordan High School, taking part in extracurricular activities supported by the school, while also competing for the non-affiliated ultimate Frisbee team.

In fact, 95% of the team is made up of Jordan High School students, and they support themselves when it comes to club dues and equipment, which can range from $50 to $100.

The current Jordan High School club team actually has so many players, that it has three different teams: a starting competitive team, which is currently in Rockford, an all-female team and a developmental team.

When head coach and Jordan High School class of 2012 graduate Michael Avila joined the club as a player, he remembers there were only around 20 people total.

"It's been really cool to see with Jordan like a lot of growth that's happened over the years," Avila said. "I think at one point, back when I first started, we had a group of like maybe 18, 19 people, and now we got three different teams amongst this team, our development team and the girls team"

Coltrane, who also plays tennis for Jordan High School, is the ultimate Frisbee team's spirit leader. While he is vocal and supportive of his teammates, this position does not mean he is in charge of cheering.

With ultimate Frisbee there are usually no referees. It is ultimately officiated by the players themselves, which means high school kids who are trying to win, have to be honest and mature enough to call a game fairly.

When the game gets too physical or chippy, it is up to each team's spirit leader, in this case Coltrane, to meet during a game and figure out how cooler heads can prevail.

"With any sport, like sometimes, you'll get someone that gets a little too frustrated, but overall, they do a really great job of maintaining a lot of integrity, and that's kind of like throughout all the different teams across the country and in the state," Avila said. "Like everyone's super, really really good about it. Really thoughtful, and even if they want to win and beat the other team, they're still looking out for each other."

The Dirty Birds adopted their current name in 2016. The name in no way represents a sense of cheating or playing dirty. It's a motto the players have adopted of not being afraid to put their bodies on the line. 

"Just our motto, dirty on the field, play good, get dirty, stuff like that. Always putting our body on the line, just working hard out there is what it means," Coltrane said.

The Dirty Birds are always willing to take on new players, and the sport's free flowing style allows for numerous players to see playing time every game. Seven players from each team play on the field at once, and in a game where you are constantly running and going from offense to defense, fresh legs are always needed to keep up the fast pace of play.

But take it one step further, and the sad fact of the matter is that not every high school has an affiliated club ultimate Frisbee team. Despite the Triangle being the hotbed for ultimate Frisbee in the state of North Carolina, many schools don't have an organized club. That's why you'll occasionally find players on the team who come from neighboring schools. It's a responsibility teams like the Dirty Birds must take on if they want the sport to continue growing. 

The Dirty Birds are ranked second in the entire country and sit behind only a team from Seattle. The two teams will meet up this weekend in Rockford and compete with other teams for the national title. To keep up with current scores and tournament action, you can head here, and click on the tab at the top that says "tournament weekend."

To get in contact with the Dirty Birds if you want to join the team, you can head here