Hickory – Sunday afternoons at the Hickory YMCA outdoor fields are a time for families to walk their dogs, kids to learn to ride their bicycles, and, recently, Ultimate Frisbee players to catch some air. A little like soccer, a little like football with a disc, Ultimate Frisbee (or simply “Ultimate” for fans of the sport) is a non-contact sport that encourages sportsmanship, strategy, and love of the game. Players throw the disk to one another to make progress down the field toward the opposing team’s goal. The disk can very quickly be turned around; offensive becomes defense in the blink of an eye. In football, “Hail Mary” passes are rare and risky, but are commonplace in Ultimate thanks to the long hang-time of an errant flying disc. It is an exciting game to both watch and play.
Sunday afternoon players at the Hickory YMCA agree. Liz Benoit is new to the area and she regularly plays with her longtime friend Megan Tibbs. “Ultimate has provided me with the opportunity to meet new people. I had never played Ultimate before and everyone was really encouraging and helped me to learn the game quickly. I definitely encourage everyone to come out and play with us!” said Benoit. Tibbs added, “Ultimate is a good game with good people. I feel that there are not a lot of sport activities for adults and Ultimate provides a great way to get outside and be active.”
Organizer Rob Lelewski moved to the area almost two years ago. He wanted to find a way to connect with the Hickory community. “Ultimate is one of those games that has a way of bringing people together. I look forward all week to Sunday afternoons because I love to play and I love to share the game with others. New people join almost every week.”
Heather Garvey, Senior Program Director at the YMCA of Catawba Valley, is hopeful that the weekend sessions may become a fully-supported athletic league for the YMCA. “The Y is home to leagues for adult basketball, volleyball, and flag football. We are hoping that Ultimate can eventually join that lineup. In the meantime, the pickup games on Sundays at 3pm are a great opportunity for people looking for a casual game with a great community.”
Lelewski also has high hopes for the future of Ultimate in Hickory. “Everyone keeps spreading the word and new and seasoned Ultimate players have joined us for Sunday pickup. Eventually we’d like to field four teams and play two games at a time. We have the space, so the more the merrier.”
Ages 14+ and all levels of experience are welcome. If you are a newcomer, Lelewski teaches the basics every week at 2:30pm before the group play begins at 3:00pm at the Hickory YMCA fields. Running shoes (ideally cleats) and a willingness to learn are the only requirements. If you would like to learn more, search Facebook for “Hickory Ultimate Frisbee” and join the online community for the latest information, weather based cancellations, and other events.
Images: Recent Ultimate Frisbee action at the YMCA field; Friendly Ultimate players meet every Sunday at 3pm