James Darcy, Software Engineer on Ultimate Frisbee

Hi, I am James Darcy, and I have been working as a software developer for IBM Watson Health for the past 4.5 years. I am currently living in Athboy, Co. Meath, the town where I grew up. I was born in Dublin and lived there for a few years before moving to Athboy as a young child. I then moved back to Dublin during my college years, where I lived with friends and got to experience the best aspects of student life. After I graduated, I moved back home, as it is a more favourable commute to drive from there to the IBM offices as opposed to getting public transport to them from Dublin City Centre.

I studied Computer Applications at Dublin City University, and in the third year of our degree, we were required to go on work placement for 6 months. I was able to land an internship in Cúram Software, which was an Irish company that produced Social Enterprise Management software for governments and welfare agencies. After my internship ended, I returned to college to finish the final year of my degree. During that time, IBM purchased Cúram, as part of their Smarter Care strategy. As I was approaching my final year exams, I was offered a role to work in IBM Cúram and have been working there ever since.

Amongst other reasons why I live there, Athboy was the first town in Meath to have an Ultimate Frisbee team, Hammertime Ultimate. Eamon Cassells started it in 2010 when he managed to convince a group of us country lads to get together and try out a new sport. Although the team no longer competes these days, many of us are still playing Ultimate Frisbee throughout Ireland to this day, including myself.

To give a bit of background, Ultimate Frisbee, or Ultimate, as it is officially known as, was first developed in the US in 1968 and arrived in Ireland in 1995. It is a non- contact, self-officiated (no referees) team sport where the aim of the game is for players to pass a disc between each other until the disc is caught for a point in the opposing team’s end zone. There are usually 7 players per team, and the players are not allowed take steps while holding the disc. Interceptions, incomplete passes, and passes out of bounds are considered turnovers, which gives the opposing team possession of the disc and an opportunity to score against you.

Like I said earlier, I first started playing Ultimate in April 2010, when a group of my friends decided to go along to the first Hammertime Ultimate training, which took place in Athboy. We were told about an upcoming tournament for beginners in Belfast, so we decided to keep training and sent a team. After that tournament, I was hooked.

I currently play Ultimate for a team called Uproar, (https://www.facebook.com/Uproar-796589857103059/) which is based in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Uproar was founded in 2015 when the only two Leinster based Ultimate clubs outside of Dublin, Hammertime and 66 Ultimate, decided to merge to try to challenge the big guns in Dublin.

Playing for a club keeps you busy most of the year. There is an indoor season that runs from November to the end of January. The mixed season then runs from mid spring to the end of May. A mixed team is one that consists of both men and women (usually 3 men and 4 women per team) and is one of the aspects of the sport that makes it unique. Then the men’s and the women’s seasons run separately from May to September.

Unfortunately, I am not playing at the moment as I suffered a broken leg in a game during the summer, but I am hoping to be back playing in early 2018.

Like many sports, there are so many variables in Ultimate. Every game is different, and it changes depending on the team you are playing against, the tactics they are using, the tactics that your team are implementing, and what throws are being used. Then there are outside factors such as the weather and pitch conditions that your team has to consider. You need to be very creative in order to open up opportunities on the pitch for you to score, and in order to get the disc back when you are playing defence.

Playing for the Irish team has certainly benefited my tech career. Playing any sport at a competitive level gives you the confidence that you can overcome tough tasks that are presented to you. Also, being able to perform as part of a team is a key trait at that level, and it translates very well to technical roles.

There are many other highlights to being apart of Ultimate. The social side has always been a huge plus. It is a small community in Ireland, but it is filled with incredibly friendly and down to earth people. Everyone gets to know each other on the field while playing matches, and off the field at social events that accompany many of the tournaments throughout the year.

Having a creative outlet like playing a sport is a great way to relax and blow off some steam after a tough day in the office. It also presents different challenges to you and gets you thinking in ways that you may not have before. This is a very useful skill in software engineering, as being able to think from a different perspective is incredibly helpful when trying to solve difficult challenges. The most important thing to remember is to always make sure you have fun playing. Even at the higher levels, you should still enjoy what you do.

You can check out this highlight video to get a better picture of the sport:

You can learn more about Ultimate in Ireland by visiting

Credit to all photographs go to Dublin’s Golden Cup and Scott Roeder at Ultiphotos.com

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