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State Games recognizes Ultimate Frisbee's growth in popularity

July 27, 2013 Updated: July 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm
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photo - Breakfast Club's Michael Hang scores over the defense of Shade Tent's Casey Richards during an ulitmate Frisbee game Saturday, July 27, 2013, at Cottonwood Creek Park as part of the Rocky Mountain State Games. Breakfast Club won 10-9.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Breakfast Club's Michael Hang scores over the defense of Shade Tent's Casey Richards during an ulitmate Frisbee game Saturday, July 27, 2013, at Cottonwood Creek Park as part of the Rocky Mountain State Games. Breakfast Club won 10-9. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

It was fitting that within minutes of the conclusion of the first Ultimate Frisbee championship match since the sport was added to the Rocky Mountain State Games, a Borriello Brothers delivery man showed up with a stack of pizzas.

The postgame meal has always been part of the Ultimate Frisbee fabric, and there was no need to break from those roots just because the sport is becoming more official.

"Ultimate Frisbee is just a prerequisite and a reason to do something during the day because we feel bad if we start drinking at 9 in the morning," said Dan Scogin, part of the winning team. "We've got to do something athletic so we don't feel so terrible. Then we can reward ourselves in the evening with beer and pizza."

Scogin was joking, but only in part. It's the camaraderie of the sport that has helped it grow in Colorado Springs. Every Wednesday at Memorial Park about 200 people show up for evening summer league matches. Scogin and several others even play on traveling teams that find matches throughout the state.

So, yes, it's fun. But one look at the level of play and it was apparent that there's far more to this than that. Scogin's traveling team even practices weekly and holds conditioning sessions. The Sports Corps. recognized all of this and added Ultimate Frisbee to the list of games offered in the sports festival.

"I think this was a pretty good success," said Jimmy Donnellon, the president of the Colorado Springs Ultimate Network for the past five years and the volunteer in charge of Saturday's tournament at Cottonwood Creek Park. "For having mostly just Springs people here, it's showing how the sport is growing in the Springs."

For those not familiar, Ultimate Frisbee is sort of a combination of soccer and football and played with a Frisbee. The Frisbee can only be advanced through the air, as players can take only two steps after a catch. A dropped pass means change of possession. Teams score just like in football, when a player in possession of the Frisbee crosses the goal line.

Summer league and pickup games are generally played with only cones designating the goal lines and boundaries, but two fields were marked for the State Games.

"It was a privilege for today," Scogin said.

After moving to Colorado Springs four years ago from a small town in southern Oregon, where he had tried to organize an Ultimate Frisbee league, Scogin couldn't believe the interest in the sport when he arrived.

The same was true for Donnellon, who played at Michigan State and has helped the sport flourish here over the past eight years.

Not that inclusion into the State Games by any means signifies that a sport has fully arrived, but it can't be a bad sign, either.

In other words, there's no reason to think the beer and pizza will be slowing anytime soon.

"I think this was a good start," Donnellon said. "For the first year, getting it going, I think this was good."

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