Ultimate attracts athletes of all kinds

Growing Mukilteo team passes on passion for sport through skills clinics
By David Pan | May 11, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Kamiak High School’s Max Furlong-Benedetti (left), a member of the Carpe Discus Knights, demonstrates the proper disc throwing technique to Harbour Pointe Middle School’s Alex Weeks during an Ultimate skills clinic. Ultimate, previously known as ultimate frisbee, has increased in popularity. The Knights, the high school team, has 35 players this season, the highest in their eight years of existence.

Members of the Carpe Discus Knights became involved in the sport of Ultimate for different reasons.

Kamiak High School junior Max Furlong-Benedetti started playing the sport, originally called ultimate frisbee, in middle school with his friends in Seattle.

Junior Megan Grose’s older brother Ryan introduced her to the sport three years ago. It soon turned into one of her favorite activities.

Senior Erin Dahl was looking for a way to stay active. A friend told her about the Carpe Discus Knights, the Kamiak High School team.

While Furlong-Benedetti, Grose and Dahl all participated in other sports, such as basketball, soccer, track and wrestling, junior Annabelle Lee didn’t have any experience in organized sports prior to her joining the team two years ago. Lee was a member of the Kamiak Show Band when a friend encouraged her to come out for the team.

While they may have been motivated for different reasons, all of the players share a passion for the sport of Ultimate.

Lee, a co-captain of Team B, likes how close the players have become as a team.

“We’re all from different friend groups and we all come together,” Lee said.

In Ultimate, each team has seven players out on the field at a time. Players throw the disc back and forth between teammates without dropping it until someone catches in the end zone. Once the disc is caught, the player must stop and plant a pivot foot, which cannot be lifted until the disc is thrown. Dropped or intercepted discs result in a turnover.

In many ways, Ultimate draws from other sports.

“It’s more of a mixture of different sports,” said Grose, a co-captain of the Team A. “You’ve got a little bit of basketball and soccer.”

Grose also has the opportunity to utilize her track skills since players are constantly on the move, either on offense or defense.

Perhaps the most unique part of Ultimate is that the sport has no officials and players make their own calls at this level.

The concept of self-officiating took a while for Dahl, who previously played basketball, to understand and appreciate.

“That was kind of weird for me because I’ve always let the refs do that,” Dahl said. “It’s really kind of cool because it makes everyone very involved in the game. And it lets you take responsibility.

“If you did something wrong, do you have the integrity in yourself to give it to the other team if you foul them?”

Sportsmanship and fair play are cornerstones of Ultimate and are a major part of the appeal of the sport to Furlong-Benedetti, a co-captain of Team A.

When players make the calls they are more involved in the game.

“It makes it really interactive for everyone out on the field,” Furlong-Benedetti said. “An important part is spirit, which is pretty much at the center of frisbee. Everybody is focused on sportsmanship and the spirit of the game. That’s why it’s self-officiated because everybody is focused not only on playing well and having fun but sportsmanlike conduct.

Unlike soccer, another sport Grose plays, Ultimate players strive to avoid contact.

“In soccer you want to be really aggressive but frisbee is no contact,” Grose said. “I can’t just go run into somebody. It’s really important everybody has respect for everyone.”

As part of the spirit of the game, each team is graded by the other after a game on a scale of 1 to 5 on how they treated others, knew the rules and had fun. The spirit scores are used as a criteria for playoff qualification and invitations to the Spring Reign tournament.

The team, which operates under the non-profit organization Carpe Discus Ultimate, was founded in 2010 by coach Don Saul, whose son expressed an interest in Ultimate.

Interest in the team has grown since then and 35 players, the most ever, currently play for Team A or Team B, the first time there have been two teams.

“Before we barely had enough for one team,” Furlong-Benedetti said. “Now we have enough for two teams and extras.”

Members of the team give back to the sport by hosting skills clinics four times a season for students at Harbour Pointe Middle School. This is the fourth year for the middle school team and the third in which the high school players have assumed most of the responsibilities in putting on the clinic.

“It’s good for them (high school players) because if you can teach something, you really understand it,” Harbour Pointe Middle School teacher Erin Quinn said.

The Carpe Discus Knights is not affiliated with Kamiak High School and Ultimate is considered a club sport.  The teams play in leagues hosted by Disc Northwest.

Both of Kamiak’s A and B teams have playoff games on Saturday, May 13, at the Shoreline Park fields in Shoreline. Team A faces Bainbridge Island A at 1 p.m. and then plays again at 2:30 p.m. Team B faces the Edmonds Sky Falcons at 4 p.m.

Furlong-Benedetti has played just about every sport growing up.

“I’ve definitely had the most fun playing Frisbee,” he said.

Dahl encourages anyone with an interest to check out the team and the sport.

“You’re in a great environment with people who want to have fun and also learn and stay active,” Dahl said.

For more information about Carpe Discus Knights email: coach@carpediscus.com

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