Sky society

By WHIT RICHARDSON  |  July 12, 2006

Another tradition, at least in Portland, is the draft party. At the end of May this year, the Ultimate scene took over Bubba’s Sulky Lounge for one night as captains and players gathered to choose sides for the summer league. Sixty or so captains sat behind closed doors at a wall of long wooden tables that surrounded the glowing dance floor as it flashed blue, orange, red, and green. Tricycles and baby carriages hung from the ceiling and a large screen — where the DJ usually sets up shop — displayed the draft as it happened. The captains drafted more than 500 players as they ate pizza, drank beer, and heckled each other like their predecessors did 13 years ago, when the party was a few guys gathered in the living room of Pozzy’s apartment. The players, for their part, gathered along Bubba’s horseshoe-shaped bar to watch the monitors for their names and their new teams. For many, the draft party is the first taste of the Portland Ultimate scene after a long winter away. There are a lot of handshakes, nods, and forgotten names, much like an extended-family reunion.

Growing attention


REACH FOR THE SKY: In search of the elusive disc.
Summer-league players often refer to their “Frisbee family,” a term setting teammates and opponents apart from other friends and family members. But for Lucey, “Frisbee family” is even more. In 1996, she was drafted onto the same summer league team as her future husband, Joe. The rest is history, one oft repeated in the annals of summer league, says Pozzy. He estimates at least a dozen marriages have resulted from relationships begun during summer league. And most of the time, the sport becomes a regular part of family life.

The Luceys were married in 2002 and now have two young children — ages three and four months — but still find the time to play Ultimate. “It’s one of the few things that Joe and I never want to give up,” Moe says. “And our kids now can come and play with other kids on the side of the field.”

The game’s simplicity and athleticism may attract some folks to the sport, but it is the willingness to embrace anyone who wants to play that has made Ultimate so popular. “Every year I look forward to new players,” she says. “So you can just teach them the game and hope that they love it as much as we do.”

Ultimate can be many things to many people. If you’re looking for new friends, you can find them there; if you are looking for a date, you can find it there; if you are looking for an activity to participate in as a family, you can find it there; if you want to act a little weird or outside the norm, Ultimate can be your venue for that. People who don’t fit in elsewhere, usually fit in on the Ultimate field. “It’s the great social leveler,” says 26-year-old Adam Johnson, who has played in the summer league for the past two years.

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