I mean, yes, if your menu consists of sheep testicles or liver, attendance may dwindle, but grad parties aren’t about food. They’re about enjoying, congratulating and celebrating; recounting, relaxing and relating. They’re about the atmosphere. I think that same familial, laid-back, grad-party ethos exists in The Northland Frisbee Invite (NFI).
Alright, I know we just went from passing dishes to, actually, well, “passing dishes,” and I understand you may have never heard of the NFI, so gather ’round. I’ll get you up to speed.
Back in the distant summer of 2011, I hatched the idea of hosting an Ultimate Frisbee (ask your kids) tournament in Cloquet. I pictured people from across the state descending upon Cloquet’s fields, utilizing our extensive park system, and playing Frisbee. It seemed a decent way to foster community and, eventually, it became the only certified non-profit Ultimate Frisbee charity tournament in the Upper Midwest.
Christened the Northland Frisbee Invite, it worked. Last year’s tournament hosted 116 kids from 20 schools and three states while donating approximately $1,000 to charity. Here’s why this year’s tournament will again feel like the area’s biggest grad party.
Like the parent who brings out their child’s awkward photos, the NFI enjoys livening the conversation. While Ultimate Frisbee is the event’s pulled pork, DJ Infinity donates his time to DJ the entire event. All participants receive shirts and, if you get hot, you can swim for free at the community pool. Like food? Yeah, there’s also free watermelon. And while the championship game is played under stadium lights, to keep things fun and interesting, third place is decided by a dance-off.
Whether it’s potato salad or Frisbee tournaments, you can’t go wrong with homemade. From the website made by Cloquet grads Bill Baurer and Christian Wood, to the shirts designed by local artist Matt Schmidt, the NFI is a homemade recipe. The phenomenal sponsors work in our community, the kids attend our schools, and all proceeds are reinvested back into the community’s disadvantage-youth through the REACH mentoring program. Also, because all the ingredients are local, you know it has some authentic flavor.
The NFI just “has the vibe.” Last year, whole families competed. Teams piled out of vans wearing tie-dyed shirts and fake moustaches. Disproportionately, sportsmanship and respect permeate Ultimate Frisbee which shows in the tournament. For example, last year’s championship team took the time to improve a younger team’s throws — mid-game — and that’s what it’s all about. And while you’ll always have a couple brash uncles at the party, most people sign up for fun.
Finally, like any good grad soiree, you’re invited … whether it’s your first or 5,000th time playing Ultimate Frisbee. Just gather a team of seven and sign up individually at NorthlandFrisbee.org for $20 or at the door (Hilltop Field) on June 28 for $25. If you like inviting atmospheres, amazing shirts, and complimentary all-you-can-eat watermelon, you’ll enjoy yourself. If you’re just a hard-nosed connoisseur of sheep testicles and liver, however, I’ll see you at my grad party.
Luke Heine is a summer intern with the Pine Journal. Contact him at 218-879-1950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.