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Thursday, May 26, 2011 04:32 pm

‘Ultimate Frisbee’ offers fitness, fun and community

Springfield group needs more women to play


Willy Mellor of Jacksonville throws the disc to receiver Steve Stanish at the St. Louis Classic tournament.

If you’re home from college or just wanting to get fit and have fun in central Illinois this summer, ultimate Frisbee may be for you.

A game of “ultimate” is like soccer but is played with a flying disc and an edge of competition. The game has no referees, and players can even call a foul on themselves if they make contact with another player or run with the disc. “Ultimate” will have you running up and down and from side to side the length of the field, making you feel like you’re at recess again.

Two teams of seven people face off with one another at both ends of the field. A player from one side hurls the 175-gram disc towards the receiving team, a move called the “pull.” Much like soccer or football, each team must move the disc down the field. The catch is that players can’t take a step in any direction when passing the disc to teammates and must catch the disc in the end zone for the point.

Dust off those running shoes in the garage and bring a white and a black T-shirt. Players don’t need to be extremely athletic but running from one side of the field to the other is a big part of the game and the fun.

The group’s organizer, Guido Strotheide, of Jacksonville, says that games are a cross between something more organized and a “neighborhood” game, where kids used to get together and play games like touch football.

“It’s just a bunch of people who like to play and they’re there to have fun,” says Strotheide.

“I just find it really fun. Some kids have been introduced to it in high school or college but I think there are still a lot of people out there who haven’t tried it and don’t know what it’s like,” says Strotheide.

The group plays rain or shine if people show up, and has even played in snow.

Brian Perbix had never played ultimate until he moved to Springfield from Cincinnati last year.

“You get to run but if you want to be lazy, you can also be lazy,” he says.

It’s a good way for Perbix to cross-train for cycling but also a way to meet people.

“It’s a good group,” he says, as players scrimmage on the field.

Tom Bazan of Springfield winds up for a forehand throw at a tournament in Peoria.

Many of the players said the group needs more women to play, both for tournaments and to equal out the teams on the field.

“We’d like to encourage women to come out,” says Strotheide.

Many of the players sign up for tournaments but sometimes cannot compete because there are not enough women.

There are some women who already play regularly, like Magdalena Casper-Shipp.

“I heard about it from a friend just this past winter and decided to go one Sunday afternoon. Since that first day I think I’ve only missed one weekend,” says Casper-Shipp, 25. The Chicago native doesn’t mind playing with mostly men but would like to see more women play, too.

“I would love to tell girls that it really is an equal opportunity sport. You don’t have to be big or tall or super fast,” she says. “Or if you think you can’t catch the disc to save your life – I definitely couldn’t when I started – you can still come out and play an awesome sport and have a great time doing it.”

“There’s a lot of camaraderie, which makes me look forward to it,” Casper-Shipp says. “And getting worn out sprinting back and forth chasing the person you are playing defense on is great motivation to go running during the week.”

Games kick off around 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays and 1:30 p.m. on Sundays at Grant Middle School at the corner of Munroe Street and Chatham Road.

For more information about Ultimate Springfield, contact Guido at ultimatespfld@gmail.com.

Contact Holly Dillemuth at hdillemuth@illinoistimes.com.

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