Teenagers take Ultimate Frisbee to new heights in small townSporting vintage knee-high socks, a headband and short shorts, Ultimate Frisbee player Luke Heine said his backhand flick is his weapon of choice when roaming the field with the plastic disc.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Sporting vintage knee-high socks, a headband and short shorts, Ultimate Frisbee player Luke Heine said his backhand flick is his weapon of choice when roaming the field with the plastic disc.
“The hammer throw gets the ladies, but I like the backhand,” said the 17-year-old Heine. “I can throw that thing some 60 yards.”
Admitting he’s not the most masterful of throwers, Heine said Ultimate Frisbee is an entertaining sport for anyone who wants to play, get in a workout and have an enjoyable experience with some friends all at the same time.
Heine, a Cloquet High school senior starting next fall, has been coordinating games in Cloquet for a while now. He learned how to play Ultimate Frisbee – in which players score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in football or rugby – as a youngster. During cross country season last fall, he thought organizing games in town would be a neat idea for the summer.
“I was bored so I just texted my entire phonebook, picked up some watermelon, grabbed a boom box and 50 people showed up that first day,” Heine said. “Anyone can show up to play. It’s really to have fun. A lot of people are just laid back.”
Heine explained weekly pickup contests take place at Pinehurst Park with the evening games under the lights. If Pinehurst has softball in session, games move to Hilltop Park. All the teenagers need are a few marking cones and some Frisbees.
Rules are simple. Once players arrive, teams are split up equally. During play, a goal is scored across the foul line at Pinehurst and the back line at Hilltop.
Most evenings, boys are worth one point and girls, two. Heine said games can be timed, but usual doubleheaders are played to 15 first, then seven afterward.
“By then we’re all usually gassed anyway,” Heine said of the physically fatiguing sport that requires a lot of running and jumping. “It’s super fun, though. We’ll play 4-on-4 or 12-on-12. It doesn’t matter. Whoever shows up, we’ll play and have a chill time.”
Heine is the tournament director for the upcoming Ultimate Frisbee tournament set for June 29 at 3 p.m. in Cloquet. Heine said 13 teams and a total of 91 players are signed up as of Tuesday. Payable registrations are still being taken at www.northlandfrisbee.org.
Heine explained that Pinehurst, Hilltop and both Braun and Ed Mettner parks will be used to host the event that will include T-shirts, food, swimming, and even a DJ. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the REACH Foundation, Heine said.
“It’s an awesome idea,” said recent Cloquet graduate, Cade Kutter, of the tournament. “It’s a good thing and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Cutter, who was a four-year high school football player for the Lumberjacks, said playing Frisbee on a weekly basis brings him back to the gridiron. He said on a usual game night, roughly a dozen kids come out to play with the disc.
“When it’s sunny out, we’ll get about 30,” Kutter said. “Whenever we’re playing, I’m usually there. It’s a fun summertime game. I just go and play. I love it.”
Fellow soon-to-be Cloquet senior and Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast, Sam Jorgenson, said he plays once or twice per week around his job at Premiere Theatres.
“I play as much as I can,” Jorgenson said. “I don’t think any of us were born to play Frisbee, but we like it. The bigger games with 40 guys are just awesome.”
Heine noted area neighbors such as Esko, Barnum and Proctor have been involved before. He said although rare, girls play even now and then, too.
“I’ll be honest, it’s a pretty male-dominated field,” Heine admitted, “but we’ve had girls before. We’ve had many skills levels, actually.”
Heine said for first-timers, the more advanced players will go over a 15-minute tutorial session to teach all how to play. He said the more practice at it, the better.
“Frisbee is like any other sport, the more time you spend with it, the better the player you will become,” Heine said. “Like in basketball, you have your three-pointer, jumper, finger roll and hook shot. In Frisbee, it’s your backhand, forehand, hammer throw and air bounce. It’s crazy how intense it can get.”
One of those intense players is Cloquet alum Karl Palmquist. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Gustavus Adolphus College freshman was a member of the Golden Gusties Ultimate Frisbee club team this past season. Explaining he’s more of a scoring cutter, rather than a precise handler, Palmquist has played as often as he can this summer.
“If there’s a Frisbee, I’ll be there,” he said. “I’ve played in some weird places before. But that’s because it is fun and I’ve met a lot of good people through it.”
With his size, length and scoring ability, Palmquist is one of the keynote players on a nightly basis, Heine said. Palmquist, like most, learned how to play in cross country.
“I started playing Frisbee in seventh grade,” Palmquist said. “I was in basketball and golf, too, but Frisbee is so fun.”
“It’s definitely a cross country thing,” Heine added. “It’s a nice bunch of guys who play just for fun. Those Esko kids sure are good, though. Almost as good as Karl.”