Get ready, Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee recently granted official recognition to the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) the global governing body for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee, or just plain "Ultimate," is a fast-paced sport that combine elements of football, soccer and basketball. It's played on a large field with two end zones like a football field and pits two teams of seven players against each other. Teams score by throwing the disc to a teammate in the end zone. In the professional leagues, they play for a set amount of time, like a soccer match, while in college, club and most recreational league games, the first team to score 15 points wins. Players have to stop and establish a pivot foot after they catch the disc like in basketball, and have just 10 seconds to throw before their opponent can call a turn-over. If you've never seen Ultimate Frisbee played, do yourself a favor and watch a little bit of the game I shared below. You might just get hooked.
An Ultimate player stretches to grab the Frisbee. (Photo: Robin Davies/flickr)
Besides Ultimate, the WFDF represents the sports of disc golf, freestyle Frisbee, beach Ultimate and guts — a game in which two teams stand close to one another and throw the disc as hard as possible at the other team in the hopes that they drop it. While those sports are all exciting to watch, none have the spectacular growth that Ultimate has seen over the years. If there is any sport governed by the WFDF that will make it into the Olympics, it's Ultimate.
Ultimate is a unique sport in that it was invented by high school students and saw most of its early growth among those around college age. While I had been exposed to Ultimate by my dad and uncles when I was a kid back in the late '80s, I wasn't able to play organized Ultimate until I landed in college in 1997. Except for a few small pockets like Seattle and Amherst, Massachusetts, where Ultimate crept down early into the high school and middle school level, that's how it was for most people my age — you started playing in college.
An Ultimate player in action, stretching to grab a flying disc. (Photo: liebeslakritze/flickr)
That has all changed now. Players like me, who found their way into Ultimate later in life are all grown up and have families. And naturally, we want our children to play this great sport. In a story that's being repeated all over the country, I started coaching my daughter's middle school Ultimate team a couple of seasons ago. I now have players as young as 9 years old hucking big full-field throws and learning the intricacies of "the stack" (one of the basic offensive formations). I keep telling my friends that we're going to need to split our recreational summer league into two divisions soon — an A-division for all the fit youngsters who have been playing since they were single digits and a B-division for all us old-timers who don't want to get burned all game long. They're getting that good.
So I have no doubts it won't be long before we see a disc flying through the air during the Summer Olympics. I just hope it's in time for my daughter to make the team. (As age turns my hair gray and slows down my sprints, I need to live vicariously!)
On that note, I want to wish my daughter and the rest of her teammates the best of luck as they travel to Minnesota this weekend to play in the 2015 Youth Club Championships as they represent our state of Maine against teams from all over the nation. The kids on those fields in Minnesota are likely the ones we'll be cheering on as some future Team USA battles against Japan or Great Britain for the gold. USA! USA! USA!
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