Vail/Breck Ultimate Frisbee – Are you game? |

Vail/Breck Ultimate Frisbee – Are you game?

Nancy Olsen
Special to the Daily The Vail/Breckenridge Ultimate Frisbee team.

I moved from Los Gatos, Calif. over a year ago to live in these mountains. I relish that directly outside of both workplace and home I can mountain bike, trail run, snowboard or snowshoe. However, with moving to any new area, building friendships and community are equally important. What I didn’t expect was that I would find this from a team sport that compels me to throw my body in the air, and bruise it, to catch a Frisbee.Ultimate is somewhat like soccer but without all the kicking and knee injuries. The sports is played on a grassy field with seven people from each team lined up on their respective goal lines. The defensive team pulls the disc – a long throw similar to a kickoff – then runs down the field to guard their opposing offensive player from making or catching a throw (think one-on-one basketball defense). The disc handler must throw within ten seconds or it’s a turnover. When you catch a disc, you have a pivot foot that can’t be moved or it’s a travel. Your goal is to work the disc down the field until you score by throwing to an open player in the end zone. And there are no referees, so players make their own calls according to the rulebook, which is known as “Spirit of the Game”.

Getting startedAt a friend’s request last summer, I started going to Ultimate Frisbee pickup with the Vail/Breckenridge team. I showed up knowing how to toss a Frisbee, like you do in the park or at the beach. I didn’t know a thing about the sport. The only team experience I had was tennis and track, where you don’t really play as a team.Luckily, everyone was friendly and interested in teaching me, but when it came time to play, they were really good athletes and passionate about the game. It was clear I’d have to suck it up for a while and be that girl: The one you throw to if there is no one else open; the one you tell to get out of your way because her field sense is about as good as a kid at an amusement park who wants to go on all the rides at once and ends up running around until she smacks into a pole and knocks herself out. Yeah, you know, that one.So I focused on learning the game elements: Throwing and catching a disc, basic defensive and offensive strategies and running – lots of running. The difficulty comes when you try putting all the elements together in a fast-paced environment and work as a team. You might throw the disc in the wrong direction (oops) or cover the wrong person (oops) or be in somebody’s way, which I excelled at, and still do from time to time.There is always an initiation period while joining a team, and this was no exception. I simultaneously learned how to play the game and be on a team, which took patience on my part as well as my teammates’. But I knew the benefits would outweigh any difficulties. As we gathered for beers and barbecue after practice, my teammates’ encouragement is always a plus. And these players have become my close friends.Back again

This summer, my second season, I’ve started playing in tournaments. I’m practicing on beautiful fields with friends, enjoying our few months of sunshine, and challenging my physical skills and competitive spirit twice a week. I’ve learned that Ultimate is a much larger community. There are cities and towns all over the United States that host tournaments, many of which are here in Colorado. On Labor Day weekend, I’ll be at a hat tournament in Durango, where everyone puts their names and levels into a mix and the tournament director creates teams. With hat tournaments you don’t need a team to go with, as you’ll join one when you get there. For $30 I can play Ultimate all weekend, visit a new town, see a bunch of familiar faces and continue to strengthen bonds. The $30 also includes dinner and the Saturday night party – let’s just say Ultimate people know how to win a party.There are enough elements to Ultimate that it’s possible to excel in one area and be an asset to a team. Maybe you’re a sprinter and can break away to catch a disc, maybe you’re better at throwing than running and can work it down the field or maybe you’re a heck of a defensive player. All positions are necessary and well needed.I suspect there are Ultimate players out there, and this is to peak your interest. I know there are other athletes out there who would benefit from playing on a team. If you’re interested, all you need is a desire to play, willingness to practice, a sense of fun, your own beer and something to barbecue after practice. Are you game? Info boxVail/Breck Ultimate Practice: Mondays6 p.m. BreckenridgeUpper Blue Elementary Fields

Wednesdays 6 p.m.VailDonovan ParkFor more info Call: Nancy Olsen 408-461-0323 David Olson 970-406-1085 Michael Hodges 970-471-6136 Vail, Colorado

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