Ultimate Frisbee shines under the lightsDriving past Pinehurst Park on Highway 33 late Friday night, it was hard to miss the activity under the big bright lights of the softball field. A large crowd was cheering and clapping, watching two teams throwing a disc into the night sky.
By: Jolynne Denman, Pine Journal
Driving past Pinehurst Park on Highway 33 late Friday night, it was hard to miss the activity under the big bright lights of the softball field. A large crowd was cheering and clapping, watching two teams throwing a disc into the night sky.
It was Cloquet’s first-ever Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.
Ultimate Frisbee is an exciting, non-contact team sport, played across the globe. Utilizing discs (like Frisbees), it mixes the best features of sports such as soccer, basketball, American football and netball into an elegantly simple yet fascinating and demanding game.
Cloquet High School senior Luke Heine said he organized and coordinated the event because he wanted to bring something to the Cloquet community. It took nine months to organize the tournament while juggling six lettered school activities and maintaining a 4.1 grade point average. In short, he was busy.
“When you put that amount of time into something, you plan for it to be great, and it was,” said an excited Heine after the tournament.
Heine explained all proceeds from the tournament will go towards the REACH program – Read, Empower, Attain, Create, Hope – a program that works with youth in the Cloquet area. REACH volunteers mentor at-risk youth and give them positive relationships with caring adults who provide guidance, a listening ear and an experienced perspective on life.
Teenagers representing more than 20 schools participated in the tournament; a total of 108 people formed six co-ed teams.
“We don’t have a lot of stuff like this to bring people together,” said Johnna Bottila, who worked as a referee for the tournament. “Everyone has good sportsmanship; it’s refreshing for Cloquet. No competitiveness between the players.”
Family members and other Ultimate Frisbee players watched from the sidelines, cheering on their favorite team, or warming up for an upcoming game. The players, non-aggressive, were respectful to their teammates, opponents, and to the referees.
“We’re all about taking Cloquet from a town and turning it into a community,” Heine said.
As the tournament progressed, DJ Infinity blasted music to keep families and fans entertained while watching the games. By 9:30 p.m., the games moved from Hilltop Park over to Pinehurst Park to determine the top four places.
Oddly enough, a dance-off was the deciding performance for the third- and fourth-place winners. Given only 20 minutes to choreograph their dance, Team Kitty Kitty Meow and Team Firehawk were determined to blow the crowd away. Team Kitty Kitty Meow kicked off with “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz, while team Firehawk fired off with “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Although the dances were close and brought many laughs, the Firehawk’s dance won the crowd’s approval and took the third place medal.
Before the championship game between the Northern Lights and the Oogway Turtles began, Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren – who also helped organize the tournament – threw the “ceremonial first toss” to Luke Heine.
Then the ultimate competition began. Through two intense 15-minute-long periods, the crowd never stopped cheering on the Northern Lights and the Oogway Turtles. For those who find football intense, Ultimate Frisbee is just the same. Players made incredible leaps and James Bond-style dives and slides as the two teams clashed for the championship title.
When the Northern Lights team won with an incredible catch, the late Friday night crowd erupted with cheering.
“I feel like this is the greatest team!” the team proclaimed almost in unison.
Made up of students from Esko, Cloquet and Moose Lake who barely knew each other, the Northern Lights team came together and won the first annual Cloquet Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. For every game that team Northern Lights won, a team member sprayed a silver star onto their black T-shirts, which they wore with pride.
With a successful Ultimate Frisbee tournament behind them, the Northern Lights team plans to come back to defend their title next year in Cloquet, alongside many other Ultimate Frisbee lovers.