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Lifestyle

Ultimate Frisbee catches on at Long Island club events

Frisbee enthusiasts playing in Long Island Ultimate's weekly Wednesday Night Lights pickup game on Oct. 26, 2016, at the Huntington YMCA talked about their love for the game and how the sport is growing across the country. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely)

This night’s game at the Huntington YMCA field could easily be mistaken for soccer or football, but it’s not a ball the three dozen members of LI Ultimate are tossing, leaping and diving for. It’s a Frisbee.

At LI Ultimate’s Wednesday night pickup games, Frisbee is a competitive sport, with rules, scoring and, of course, some amazing catches.

“You are throwing a Frisbee through the sky, 70 yards away, and someone’s jumping over someone and catching it,” says Joe Moyles, 24, of Islip Terrace, a freelance video journalist and a captain of the Frisbee Long Island, or FLI, club.

“It’s a combination of soccer, football and basketball all rolled into one,” player Chris Ambrosio, 26, of Huntington, says.

FLYING HIGH

LI Ultimate, founded in 2008 by Ambrosio and fellow Huntington High School alumni, has grown from a summer league with 100 members to a year-round club comprising eight teams and about 200 players. The players, many of whom learned the sport on club teams at Hofstra, Adelphi or Stony Brook University, arrive from as far away as the Hamptons and Queens.

“The unique thing about Frisbee is that it has a third dimension,” says Leanne Beyel, 23, of Commack, who joined LI Ultimate after playing on the Stony Brook women’s team. “It goes up, down, left and right, and it can go in many different directions because of the wind.”

Here are some more things you should know about the sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

GETTING COMPETITIVE

The plastic flying disc Wham-O introduced in the 1950s was first used to play Ultimate at a New Jersey high school in the late 1960s, and it graduated to a competitive college sport in 1972, according to USA Ultimate, the sport’s national governing body. “The sport was originally called Frisbee, but that’s a trademark of Wham-O, so it’s now called Ultimate,” says Scott Mulderig, 31, of Freeport, a computer programmer and the club’s vice president.

Then last year, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized flying disc sports, a step toward including the sport in the 2020 Olympics, Ambrosio says.

If you want to join a pickup game, you don’t have to stay on the sidelines. Teammates will teach you the rules. No special gear is required, although wearing shoes with cleats will help you avoid slipping in the grass, players say. (The club supplies the standard Discraft 175-gram discs.) Layers of warm clothing and wool caps are recommended until Ultimate moves indoors in January.

During a game of Ultimate, you can play a handler or a cutter position. “A handler is like a quarterback, and the cutters are wide receivers,” says player Sean Fagan, 23, of East Islip. Two teams of seven members score points by catching a pass in the opponent’s end zone on a large field or indoor court.

Among the unique aspects of Ultimate Frisbee is a sportsmanship tradition called “spirit of the game.” There are no referees. Players call their own fouls and resolve their own disputes, peacefully, on the field.

A MAJOR TOURNAMENT

This weekend’s annual Project Pat Memorial Hat Tournament is named for Patrick Thomas McCourt, a Huntington High graduate and club founder who died in an auto accident at age 22 in 2011. More than 140 players are expected this year. Proceeds go toward a scholarship fund.

Project Pat Memorial Hat Tournament

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Huntington High School, 188 Oakwood Rd., Huntington

INFO 631-988-7185, liultimate.com

COST $32

LI Ultimate “Pick-Up” games

WHEN|WHERE 7:30-10 p.m. Wednesdays year-round at Huntington YMCA, 60 Main St., Huntington. All ages and skills welcome.

INFO 631-988-7185, liultimate.com

COST $8 per player (free for first-timers)

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