More than 1,100 people assembled at Villanova University Saturday night to watch grown men throw a Frisbee.
Some of the best Frisbee throwers in the country regularly compete in a game with roots that go all the way back to 1968, to a high school in Maplewood, New Jersey. Ultimate Frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and Philly's pro team, the Spinners are looking to help the sport grow.
Ultimate routinely finds itself on the sideline of spectator sports, not receiving the attention that fans believe the sport deserves. In 2012, former head coach of our city’s very own Philadelphia Spinners Jeff Snader came up with the idea of forming a league.
“Why not do something crazy,” said the now current Commissioner Snader. “We had this idea and went from being on Comcast in just Philadelphia to now teams in D.C, Portland and San Francisco, everyday it just seems to get bigger.”
The sport vaguely resembles a football-like format with no contact, scoring from end zone to end zone with each score counting as one point. A player has to stop running when catching the disk and can throw either backwards or forward while the opposing teams defends.
The league consists of two divisions made up of four teams in each. It's an accomplishment Snader is very proud of looking back at what the sport used to be.
“The consistent growth we’ve had, there’s more fans and more interest from players of all ages,” Snader said. “We consistently go to camps and people keep telling me how much they love Frisbee, our sport has really seemed to turn the corner.”
The fans were bursting with energy Saturday night in front of the team where it all started.
Interactive games in between quarters involving fans, a live disc jockey and an MC rocking sunglasses and a fedora kept the crowd on its feet to go along with the dramatic moments and incredible highlights from the awe-inspiring athletes.
The Spinners improved their record to 5-1 on the season, solidifying themselves in first place atop the east division standings. They pummeled the New York Rumble by a score of 25-10.
Backed by strong defense and key players such as Captain Jake Rainwater and Nick Hirannet, the Spinners look to bring a championship to the founding city.
“5-1 and a big game next week at Marple Newtown High School against D.C.” head coach Billy Maroon said. “We’ve got a great team in a league that keeps growing, were in a great direction and Philadelphia with a team in first place helps the whole league.”
The season consists of 10 games with the top two teams from each conference competing for the conference title, which evidently leads to the MLU championship held in mid-July.
Ultimate Frisbee has gathered a following all around the United States and with the formation of Major League Ultimate, it seems as though the sky is the limit.
“It’s going to be bigger and bigger,” said Snader, “There’s so many people playing Frisbee, I’m real excited what we’ve become and the path that were on.”