How did you get into ultimate frisbee?
I started in college at the University of Iowa. The summer before my freshman year, I discovered ultimate and started cross-training to get my cardio up. I just kept playing throughout college.
Ultimate started in the late ‘60s and it was definitely a counterculture sport. When I started playing, it felt very kind of hippie-ish, very untraditional. Through the years, that’s changed. There’s a lot of people who come from high school sports, or who have come from traditional sports but maybe don’t want to play or can’t make it into college. (Now), there’s over 3,000 people that play in the Triangle alone.
What do you like about ultimate frisbee?
It combines the dynamics of a lot of different sports. It’s played on a football field and you’re trying to score in the endzone. Once you have the disc in your possession, you can’t run, you have to pivot, so there’s a little bit of basketball in there. Plus a little bit of soccer in the way that the team moves up and down the field.
How does the game work?
Everybody has to be kind of a quarterback because everybody has to have the ability to throw, but we do have positions. (The handlers) are the ones you’ll see with the disc in their hands a lot more and they’ll be trying to throw the more complicated throws. Then there’s cutters … who will receive the disc more, score more goals. That handler-cutter dynamic is like a quarterback-wide receiver dynamic in football. The best teams, the ones that are really dynamic, everyone can play both those roles, everyone can throw and everyone can receive.
It takes a lot of time to learn how to throw with accuracy, depending on the wind, how far a receiver is, what kind of angle you put on it. You can learn a forehand and a backhand and some of the over-the-top throws in a week, but to master them, it takes years.
How does professional ultimate frisbee work?
As an organization, we pay our players. We don’t pay them a living wage yet, we hope to get to that spot. There’s a lot of people who come and try out. We usually have over 100 people. Only 15 to 20 percent of those people make it. Then, you have to make the roster which is even harder to do. It’s a highly competitive thing. You can’t just walk off the street and play, even if you’ve played high-level college athletics.
How did it feel to win the American Ultimate Disc League championship?
It felt great because we worked so hard for so many years. We’ve been to the playoffs every year. We’ve had a really, really good record. We’ve always been a very competitive team, top five in the league, but we’ve never won. So this is a really big deal for the organization. There were a lot of people on the team who have been there since 2015 and even before there were pro leagues, they were playing in the area club teams. Seeing some of those guys win their first championship was really awesome for everyone.
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