The Dogs of War is a uniquely named sports club at UCF that can walk the walk while carrying a bit of a bite.
Its game is Ultimate Frisbee and they have become quite good at it, making four consecutive appearances at the Division I College Championships. Its most recent was a third-place finish on May 24 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"The entire year, we were given the stigma that our team either shows up to play or decides to not play at all. We were a big question mark throughout the entire season," said head coach Andrew Roca, who graduated from UCF in December 2010 with a bachelor's degree in hospitality management. "It was an amazing tournament and we exceeded expectations, tenfold."
Ultimate is played with seven players per team on a 70-by-40-yard field. The Frisbee disc can be thrown in any direction to get to one of the two 25-yard end zones, while the player who catches the disc is allowed three steps after a catch.
"It's a fun, silly kind of sport, where you get to throw a piece of plastic around with your best friends and travel all over the country," said Alex Bullock, who is a UCF graduate Aerospace engineering student and was second on the team with 18 assists.
Roca said the Dogs of War was created by a group of literature students in the mid-1980s, and was named after Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." It did not become a registered student organization until 2004, and did not win a tournament until 2010.
The Dogs of War's best finish came in 2013 when it lost in the championship game to the University of Pittsburgh, 15-8, and was crowned the second best team in the nation. It tied for ninth last season and tied for fifth in the team's first-ever College Championships appearance in 2012.
The team was not always revered as the competitors they are today, though.
"[People] knew who we were, knew us for kind of being a fun, partying team. Nothing real serious. But, also, when it came down to playing we weren't half bad either," Roca said.
Since Roca took over the coaching reigns in 2011, the team has adapted a strict schedule that includes two on-field practices, one or two track workouts and a strength and lifting session each week.
"You can give them all the tools and materials and you can give them all the guidance, but once they're on the field, they're making their own decisions," Roca said. "It makes me feel a part of something bigger than just myself to get the team to where it is and maintain it."
The team has mainly been comprised of people who have not played Ultimate competitively before joining UCF's team. Roca scouts a lot of the team's talent from intramural athletes who are competing in flag football, soccer and basketball.
"A couple of them are getting points in the semifinals at nationals and they've only been playing Ultimate for eight months," said Michael Fairley, a sophomore accounting major and second-leading scorer with 14 points and nine assists. "[The new guys are] a bunch of hardworking, selfless individuals that came in and just did whatever we asked them to do.
"It's crazy to see how far they've come since the first day of school."
Earning another national championship appearance may be on the minds of the Dogs of War's players, but unlike some NCAA Division I athletes, they realize their professional world will probably not consist of sports.
"I'm here. I get to play Ultimate Frisbee with my friends. I'm not going to spend this time worrying about everything else going on," said Bullock, who competed in his fifth and final season as a member of the team. "[It was never my goal] to create this huge, star-studded team. It was more of doing the best that I can and doing what I can for the team."
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.