Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Salt Lake Lions brings professional ultimate disc to Utah

By Trent Christiansen, Deseret News

Published: Mon, April 7 7:15 p.m. MDT

 An ultimate disc player lays out for a catch. Photo from Salt Lake Lions promotional video.

An ultimate disc player lays out for a catch. Photo from Salt Lake Lions promotional video.

Utah is now home to another professional sports team.

The team: the Salt Lake Lions. The sport: ultimate disc.

Starting April 12 at 7 p.m., the Lions will make their inaugural “pull,” or opening throw, at their home field of Taylorsville High School Stadium. (Frisbee is the common term for disc.)

The Lions are part of the American Ultimate Disc League, a league founded in 2012 by Josh Moore. It is now in its third year and consists of 17 teams nationwide, including a Canadian team.

The coach of the Lions is McCord Larsen, who is also the coach of the Olympus High School Ultimate club team. Larsen has experience playing, teaching and coaching ultimate disc. He played at Utah State for one season and has coached at Sky View and Olympus high schools. He has also taught the sport to people California, New York, Utah, Germany and Mexico.

For those planning on attending matches, Larsen gave a list of players to watch.

“The field vision of captain David Brooks and the defensive prowess of co-captain Doug Stenclik is something worth seeing,” Larsen said. “The speed of Ryan Segal, Kenji Hood and Sohkee Birmingham, mixed with the energy of young players such as Ben Law, Jack Kingsley and Tony Pehrson, make for an exciting game.”

The league features three conferences: the West Conference, the Midwest Conference and the East Conference. The Lions will exclusively play teams from the West Conference in the regular season, with seven games at home and seven games on the road. The West features teams from San Francisco, San Jose, Vancouver and Seattle.

Larsen has high hopes for the squad, even though it’s their first year in the league.

“The benefit of where we are right now is that every team in our division is new,” Larsen said. “So we won't have to play more experienced teams until championship weekend in Toronto. Though some teams boast some of the best players in the country/world, it's still anyone’s game and we have as good of shot at that Western title as any.”

The tryouts were held in Salt Lake City in October 2013, so there are Utah ties on the team. Thirteen of the 23 players on the team are from or attended college in Utah — six attended the University of Utah, two BYU, one UVU and one Southern Utah. The other two attended high school in Utah.

“We feel it's important that in order to build the ultimate scene in Utah we need to keep local players as involved as possible,” Larsen said. “We have developed our own club team to help develop younger/inexperienced players and to help prepare them to play for us in future seasons.”

Tickets are $12 and season tickets start at $72. The games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, starting in April and running through the end of July. The championship game will be on July 27 in Toronto.

In the inaugural season of the AUDL, the Philadelphia Spinners won the championship in the eight-team league. At the end of the season, five of the eight teams either folded or jumped leagues, including the Spinners, leaving only three teams. The league expanded to 12 teams by the start of the 2013 season, however, and has since expanded to 17 teams.

Basic ultimate rules and glossary: (Note that this is not all-comprehensive.)

  • Each team consists of seven players on the field at a time.
  • The disc must be thrown advance down the field. When a player catches the disc, he must establish a pivot foot and throw the disc before running again. A pivot foot doesn’t have to be established to throw, however.
  • An incomplete pass results in a turnover. Play does not stop on a turnover; the opposing team can immediately pick the disc up and throw it.
  • A stall count results in a turnover. The defender can closely guard the thrower and count “stall one, stall two…” In the AUDL, the stall count limit is seven.
  • Substitutions are allowed after a point is scored or in the event of an injury.
  • Generally, there are no referees in ultimate. The AUDL games are reffed, however.
  • Points are scored when the disc is thrown and then caught in the end zone.
  • General ultimate rules dictate that a game is over when a team reaches a specific score. However, in the AUDL, the game is over when all four quarters have been played.
Types of throws

Backhand throw: A throw starting with the arm close to the body and finishing with arm extended.

Forehand throw: A throw starting with the arm extended and finishing with the throwing arm close to the body.

Hammer throw: An overhead throw. The disc is released on its side and is used to fly over a crowd and drop to a receiver.

Pull: The deep throw at the start of the game or after a team scores. It is similar to a kickoff in football.

Offensive positions

Cutters: A general position referring to a player attempting to get open on the offensive side of the disc. They can be players that stay short or players that go long. They are used to either divert the opponent to get another player open or create enough space to catch the disc.

Handlers: The primary disc thrower. These players are generally most comfortable and talented at throwing every kind of throw.

Striker: The deep threat player. The striker is generally the best athlete on the offensive side and is constantly looking for a deep pass for a score.

Defensive strategies

Zone defense: The defensive strategy where players defend an area of the field rather than a specific opponent. There are many different forms of zone defense, including the cup, wedge and clam formations. Zone is usually used when the opposing team is more athletic or the team is trying to conserve energy.

Man defense: The most basic kind of defense, where each player on defense marks a specific player on offense and sticks with him all the way down the field.

Information obtained from ultimatefrisbeeinfo.com/ultimate_frisbee_rules and ultipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ultimate.

Follow Trent on Twitter @TheRealTrento.

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1. abrielsdad
Orem, UT,
April 9, 2014

Where can I buy a shirt? Love the shirt! Oh yeah, I might have to check out a game sometime, too.