Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The ultimate experience

Throw FRISBEE, have fun, make friends, get fit

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It can be argued Ultimate Frisbee suffers an identity crisis.

The game involves throwing an object into an end zone like football and pivoting on one foot to avoid travelling like basketball.

But the players of the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports' (MODS) Co-ed Summer League suffer anything but a crisis. Once a week, or more if they choose, Ultimate players get together, get exercise, plant new friendships and continue to grow old ones.

Steph Klassen is experiencing all of that for the first time. She's two months into her first full season and the benefits are coming in faster than a Frisbee thrown into a gale-force wind.

"First of all, I'm getting active and meeting a whole new group of friends that we never would have had without Ultimate," Klassen said. "Our team is super open and inviting us to all kinds of events and now I feel like we're not just people that we huck a plastic disc at, we're a group of friends that get together every week."

Klassen's husband Andrew played the game two years ago. She would watch and occasionally sub for the team. After taking a year off from the sport, they returned and found their home with the Flying Crotchmen. Getting involved in the game was a simple online browse away.

"It really was easy. A lot of teams had advertised on the MODS forums and that's how we got into it," she said.

Ultimate is known for its spirit of the game. It's officiated by the players and encourages them to be competitive but also co-operative and sportsmanlike. This makes it a game that almost anyone can enjoy, according to MODS executive director Corey Draper.

"It really does seem to get people really wrapped up in it. They go from wanting to play for fun and then all of a sudden they're playing three or four times a week and their whole social circle has changed," Draper said.

He thinks it is one of the best sports in regards to staying fit. Running around during a game can easily replace a jog.

"It's a heavy cardio-vascular workout, that's for sure. You can run as much as you want or as little. With an average higher-level game the average person will run about six to 10 kilometres," Draper said.

But there's no reason to be daunted by all of the running.

"There's a wide range of athleticism and skill involved in the game, but the nice thing about it is a player can do a half a kilometre of running, while another player can run much more all depending on the style of game the team is playing," he said.

Klassen's Flying Crotchmen team puts a big emphasis on the social aspect, celebrating each other's birthdays and organizing barbecues and other events. And it's that camaraderie that brings her back each week.

"I'm not a very athletic person, but there's still a place for me here. It doesn't matter that I'm not the best player on the team, I'm still a part of the team and that's huge," she said. "I find that the people that play Ultimate tend to be very friendly and they want to help you out and encourage you, their other teammates and even the other team to do their best."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 D16

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