Nelson’s ultimate tournament Disc Break is back in 2013 with Frisbees set to fly around Lakeside Park this weekend.
More than 180 players on 10 Ultimate Frisbee teams — including Nelson’s own Homegrown — will play in the event that’s part serious competition and part fun.
“Of course there is going to be a battle to see who wins the tournament, but Ultimate is a sport that’s focuses most on fun,” said Lee MacKay, tournament director.
Teams attending this year include three from Kelowna, one from Calgary, one from Maple Ridge, one from Nanaimo/Winnipeg, one from Kamloops and three from the Kootenays including Nelson Homegrown, Kootenay Killbillies and Rossland’s RUT.
Last year, the Homegrown team lost to Vancouver in the final and is the team to beat again this year. Other strong teams will be coming from Nanaimo, Kelowna and Calgary.
MacKay explains Ultimate Frisbee is played seven-on-seven over a field 70 yards long and 40 wide. It’s got 25-yard end zones. Each point starts with a pull similar to a kick-off in football where one team throws the Frisbee from their end to the other team who advances it back through a series of throws, trying to score a point with an end-zone catch. There is no running the Frisbee.
Ultimate Frisbee is a growing sport with a strong Nelson contingency. A number of local players hold national and world titles.
Disc Break is the sixth mixed tournament Homegrown has attended this season. The local club had strong showings all around including placing 31st in a Seattle tournament where about 80 teams competed — some of them being from cities like San Francisco, Portland, Cleveland and Seattle where Ultimate is huge.
“We did very well and there were a lot of close games,” MacKay said.
This is MacKay’s 90th tournament and the local doctor has played Ultimate Frisbee since he was 20 and in university. A competitive athlete all his life, he finds Ultimate gives him the perfect combination of top athletics with regular life.
“It’s great exercise. The running is wonderful and the throwing of the Frisbee — when you can throw it 80 yards, and see someone run it down and dive to catch it, it’s one of the most graceful and beautiful sports out there,” he said.
Ultimate Frisbee is unusual in that it uses no referees on the field. Lately, there is talk of changing that as it vies for a place in the Olympic Games, professional leagues develop and ESPN starts covering the sport. But it’s what keeps many into the sport, including MacKay who’s a purist.
“I really enjoy Ultimate largely because of what we call ‘the spirit of the game,’” he said. “No one would ever violate the rules. We’re all out there to enjoy ourselves, to compete at a high level but with sportsmanship and respect for each other. I really love that.”
Disc Break includes a social held on Saturday evening which is part of the Ultimate scene. Teammates become great friends as they travel together and even those on opposing teams make bonds as well.
“You won’t ever talk to an Ultimate player without them talking about the community,” he said. “There is a great circle.”
Ultimately, Ultimate would like to expand their Disc Break tournament to more teams as its popularity grows.
Anyone wanting to try Ultimate Frisbee can join in at one of the summer pick-up nights at Lakeside Park on Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. near the change rooms and Wednesday nights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on the field by the mall. Drops-ins are welcome and the first time is free, then it’s $5 per visit.
They also plan on hosting beginner’s clinics for those interested in learning the basics.
More information can be found at nelsonultimate.ca or on Facebook by searching “Nelson Ultimate.”