by Joel Brown
Mostly, though, there is Ultimate.
Flying-disc sports are a lot more organized than they were in the peace-and-love days of the 1960s. Millions of people in the United States regularly play Ultimate, which is not officially called Ultimate Frisbee because Frisbee is a Wham-O trademark. Long Island native Dunwoody picked it up as an undergrad and quickly became an avid player.
“You hear about these opportunities to use Ultimate culture as a way to connect people,” she says. Ultimate Peace, created by Ultimate-loving Americans and one Israeli, also offers a year-round program that brings Israeli and Palestinian youth together to play the game.
In Ultimate, the disc is advanced only by passing—players cannot run with the disc—and a team scores a point when one of its players catches the disc in the other team’s end zone. Most important, as far as Ultimate Peace is concerned, there is no referee, so players must call their own fouls.
According to USA Ultimate’s “Ultimate in 10 Simple Rules,” “Ultimate stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.”
“The spirit of the game infiltrates all parts of your being,” says Dunwoody. “For me it feels like it’s alive. Every person manifests it in the way they communicate with you on and off the field. At Ultimate Peace, it’s mutual respect, but it’s also integrity and collaboration and cooperation.”
“The Ultimate Peace project is an example of sport for good, or sport for development, which is kind of an emerging field,” says Dunwoody’s faculty advisor John McCarthy (SED’98, SED’04), a School of Education clinical associate professor and director of the Institute for Athletic Coach Education. “These projects hold so much promise in areas where a lot of people have struggled and there are some really deep societal problems.”
“Dana’s very committed to social justice,” McCarthy says. “This project brings together a lot of her passions: social justice and her energy for using sport and exercise as a vehicle for positive change and just her kind of caring for other people.”
None of which surprises McCarthy. Dunwoody is SED’s first Holmes Scholar, and was elected national president of the program for 2017 to 2019. The Holmes Scholar Program, which is overseen by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education provides mentorship, peer support, and professional development to students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
“She’s a bright light,” McCarthy says. “She can do a lot of good for a lot of people.”