'Lost Boys' trounce in-state rivals in ultimate Frisbee
By Mack Perry
October 20, 2006 | The sun was perched high above the
sprawling campus of Utah State University. A drove of
tense, uniformed athletes from all over the Intermountain
West converged on the HPER field to engage in a gut-wrenching
battle of wits, determination, and physical prowess.
The teams collectively revealed the iconic object of
their competitive desire: a 10 inch plastic throwing
disc. An object commonly referred to as a Frisbee. The
first day of the annual Big Sky Warm-up had begun.
Hosted this year by Utah State University's own ultimate
Frisbee club, The Lost Boys, the Big Sky Warm-up is
a tournament that gathers ultimate Frisbee organizations
from the states of Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, and
Wyoming for a day of competition on Saturday that would
determine the bracket configuration for a slew of championship
games on Sunday. The Lost Boys won two victories during
the tournament against Weber State and the University
of Utah, in addition to further cementing the obscure
sport as an engaging cornerstone to the dynamic athletic
composition of Utah State.
"It's a lot more organized than people think," said
Lost Boys team member and tournament director Trevor
Becoming an established college past time in the early
1970s, the exact origins of ultimate (as the game is
now referred to because of the fact that "Frisbee" is
merely the name of the most popular brand of throwing
disc that can be used for the game) are somewhat shrouded
in mystery. According to the online History
of Ultimate Frisbee, the pseudo-sport may have begun
as the past time of a group of Columbia High School
students from Maplewood, N.J. The group likely learned
the sport from a summer camp instructor at Mount Hernon,
Mass. Well-known "Matrix" trilogy producer Joel Silver
was among these students, and he helped formalize the
first "Frisbee football" organization as a member of
the school's student council and the school newspaper
staff in 1968. The name "ultimate" actually originates
from a statement Silver made about the nature of the
Silver claimed that "Frisbee football" was "the ultimate
sports experience" and went on to form the first collegiate
club for ultimate at Lafayette College in 1970. Intercollegiate
competition soon followed in 1972 between Princeton
and Rutgers and by 1975 the first Intercollegiate Ultimate
Championships commenced at Yale.
The popularity of ultimate grew gradually during the
last half of the decade as ultimate clubs arose in California,
the sport spread to more college and high school campuses,
and Penn State held their first five-region National
Ultimate Championship. Finally, in 1980, the Ultimate
Players Association, the first professional ultimate
organization, was formed. Now ultimate is played in
42 countries and Ultimate Players Association tournaments
are held every year, solidifying the transformation
of a couple of New Jersey boys' carefree recreation
into a legitimate realm of competition.
As the game's developmental moniker implies, ultimate
features rules that are similar to the sport of football.
Although there are technically two official rule sets
for the game, the online Ultimate Handbook explains
that the sport is essentially a "game of keep-away with
a disc." Players are required to receive a teammate's
pass of the disc at the end zone of the 70-yard field.
Unlike football, ultimate is a non-contact sport and
is without all of the interruptions that contact sports
entail but there are many defensive and offensive strategies
that teams can employ.
"There is actually a lot of strategy," said Chris
Pitts, the Lost Boys offensive captain.
According to Lost Boys member Matthew Johnson, most
defensive tactics involve blocking one side of the opposing
player with the disc so they will have limited access
to the field. Like other sports games, defense in ultimate
is primarily derived from the one-on-one player system
that requires defending players to guard a corresponding
player from the opposing team. Johnson also stated that
defenders can alternatively choose to cover a larger
area as opposed to a single player in a variety of formations.
According to Johnson offensive strategies often call
for a horizontal or vertical "stack" to keep lanes of
the playing field free of defenders. A "stack" is physical
barrier created by a group of players that can eventually
"cut" or sprint to an open catching position.
"Ultimate Frisbee is a pretty laid-back sport but
is still one of the most physically strenuous sports
I have ever played," said Johnson.
Despite the game's glaring similarities with football,
ultimate has become well-known for taking a more relaxed
and free-spirited approach to organized competition.
This notion is rather appropriate considering the game's
The Ultimate Players Association has even described
a "Spirit of the Game" statement to emphasize the importance
of sportsmanship over the concept of victory. This philosophy
has resulted in the creation of "spirit awards" and
cheering for the opposing team following the end of
every game. A unique sport that highlights the very
basis for friendly competition, ultimate has evolved
from a backyard distraction for a group of high school
friends to an elaborately organized showcase of preparation,
sportsmanship and spirit.