Baseball may be America’s official pastime, but in recent years, there’s another sport that’s gaining ground. Ultimate (formerly known as Ultimate Frisbee)—a sport that combines heavy amounts of athleticism and sportsmanship—has found its way into the fabric of many lives in the Southwest Metro community and beyond.
David Remucal manages the plant conservation program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and Randy Gage is the youth education manager. Arboretum employees by day, but on the ultimate field, they transform.
In July, Remucal and Gage attended the World Championship for ultimate, a competition that takes place every other year. This year’s competition was in Winnipeg, Canada. “The way to get in it is you have to be one of the top teams in the country—this year, we won our National Tournament, so we got an automatic invite,” Remucal says.
Remucal started playing the sport in college. Until then, “I hadn’t heard about it,” he says. It was a popular sport among the student body, and Remucal soon fell in love with it. “I like that it is largely self-refereed,” he says. “Players are responsible for everything that goes right—or wrong—on the field.” He also enjoys the different brands of athleticism required to play, and he describes the game as “kind of a cross between soccer, baseball and football—there’s an end zone like football, players play both offense and defense and when you have the Frisbee, you can’t move, like basketball.”
Gage also discovered the game in college. “I arrived to college, and my first day on campus there was all these tables set up,” he says. “One of the tables was the ultimate Frisbee team; they invited me to play at two o’clock, and I showed up. That’s where I met some of my best friends.”
Although Remucal and Gage play on an all-male team, many ultimate teams are co-ed. “Part of the draw is the social aspect,” Remucal says. “Couples can play on the same team together, and that’s a big bonus.” Both men also describe the game as a great way to meet people when moving to a new city, which is exactly what Remucal did when he moved to Minnesota for work.
Besides providing local connections, the sport has taken both men to a vast collection of interesting places. Gage has been to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, Japan, Italy and Australia among other locations, and Remucal has been to Hawaii and Italy, as well as other cities across the United States. Remucal remembers Italy as the most notable destination because the games were played on the beach—adding an extra level of difficulty to the competition.
Remucal and Gage see a bright future for the sport. They have watched as ultimate has evolved over the years, and now they see it gaining ground with local youth. “There was no high school ultimate team when I started,” Remucal says. “Minnesota [now] has a really strong high school league.” And although ultimate has not gained a spot in the Olympics yet, Remucal and Gage have heard rumors that might suggest it could make an appearance on the medal stands. But Olympics or not, this popular pastime is here to stay.
Spirit of the Game
"Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions or other 'win-at-all-costs' behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players."
To learn more about the Twin Cities’ ultimate scene, visit the website here.