Ultimate Frisbee comes to Independence

Dozens of high school teams compete in Hopkins Hustle at Twin City Polo Club

Photos by Sean Miner

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By Sean Miner
[email protected]

Instead of horses and their polo-playing riders, the sprawling fields of Twin City Polo Club hosted hundreds of a different sort of athlete on May 7 and 8. As part of the Hopkins Hustle ultimate Frisbee tournament, dozens of high school teams competed on a patchwork of fields, marked off by cones.

Not to be confused with the more docile Frisbee golf, ultimate Frisbee is a fast-paced sport that combines elements of football, soccer and basketball, centered around a plastic disc instead of a ball.

Teams of seven players work the disc up the field, hoping to score by passing to a teammate in the endzone, much like football.

Unlike in football, the player holding the disc can’t run, required to keep one foot anchored to the ground, much like setting a pivot in basketball. This makes passing the name of the game.

The defending team seeks to block or intercept passes. If the disc touches the ground, it’s turned over to the defending team, who then begin passing down the field toward the other endzone.

With more high schools and colleges starting both boys and girls teams throughout the country every year, ultimate Frisbee is also gaining a playerbase abroad. Teams in Europe, Asia and South America have popped up over the last several years.

Not taken particularly seriously for its first few decades of growth, the International Olympic Committee announced that it was eligible for inclusion as one of the roughly two dozen certified sports on display for the summer Olympics.

Among the reasons cited for this recognition was what is called the “spirit of the game.” Unlike any other sport, ultimate Frisbee has no referees, line judges or other officiants. Instead, players themselves call fouls and handle any resulting penalties.

That might sound unworkable to those with experience with other sports. However, simple rules, combined with a pervasive culture of respect, make it not only possible, but effective.