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March 17th, 2011 |


By Amber Wiliams


New non-profit grows the sport of Ultimate Frisbee


It’s more than a backyard game played between Dad and the kids at picnics and barbecues. Frisbee has gone ultimate.

Although Ultimate Frisbee has been around for years, it has gone relatively unnoticed by many Iowans. Most think of Frisbee Golf when considering the sport of disc-throwing, but this game is quite different.

Iowa Ultimate Inc., which was started in January by president Nathan Wiemers and a board of five members, was established with the goal to grow the sport and give Ultimate Frisbee players a home where skills are honed and competitions are fierce.

“There are a lot of people that play Ultimate in Iowa; it’s just not really organized,” Wiemers said.

Wiemers said the participation levels in Iowa are in the hundreds, but most of the players belong to Ultimate Frisbee clubs rather than official leagues. He’d like to see that change.

“We want to make it more competitive,” Wiemers said. “Iowa is a little behind compared to other states. We’d like to get everyone under the same organization working together in growing the sport.”

He asserts the sport is rapidly growing across the nation. And so far in Iowa, he said 15 high schools have already “expressed sincere interest,” in joining an official league of teams, including West Des Moines, Valley, Urbandale, Ames, Marshalltown, Allamakee, Council Bluffs and Iowa City.

“The more high school teams that are a part of the league, the more fun the students or players will have, and the more serious they will take it,” he said.

Wiemers hopes that with enough public awareness, the sport will inevitably become more competitive and participation will increase enough to make the upcoming high school tournament an event that has the support of a new network of athletes, coaches, parents and spectators.

“There are some leagues, and Iowa Ultimate will support them. But, eventually hopefully everything will go through Iowa Ultimate, which is built to be the top organizing body for Iowa,” Wiemers said. “Along with many other projects in the works, this spring, starting the first week in April, will be the first ever competitive high school Ultimate Frisbee league and state tournament in Iowa.”

The tournament is slated for June 11-12, with the championship game at the West Des Moines Valley stadium. The league has three divisions: the Open division, which includes a nonspecific number of boys and girls mixed; the Mixed division involves a fixed number of boys and girls on each team; and also an All-Girls team.

Other projects that are in the works at Iowa Ultimate Inc. include training camps and clinics for all levels, a 2011 summer league for the Des Moines metro area and a hat tournament in which players sign up individually and names are drawn for teams, which is scheduled for August. Wiemers said there are also a variety of weekly and monthly games scheduled across the state in which local players and teams may compete.

Like soccer, Ultimate Frisbee is played on a field, and requires passing and teamwork, and the Frisbee must reach the goal for a team to score. However, unlike soccer, the player cannot move when in possession of the Frisbee. Instead, he or she must pass it to a teammate while trying to avoid an interception from a defending player.

Ultimate Frisbee is not a sport of physical contact. In fact, such contact constitutes a foul, according to the rules. However, sportsmanship and good conduct are drafted into the rules under the “self-officiating” clause. That means each player calls his or her own fouls.

“I would say the spirit of the game and/or self-officiating are the most significant rules for the sport,” Wiemers said. 

“Spirit of the Game” stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of player respect, the rules and the basic joy of play, Wiemers said.

Check out or online to learn more. CV

Caption: Ryan White, from the Valley Ducks (now called Legion) throws a disc, while Chad Kobal, from Urbandale Ultimate, defends during last year’s Skyed Invite 2010.