Discs were flying and players were getting into the spirit of the game of ultimate on a recent day at North Robinswood Park in Bellevue.
It was toward the end of the second week of DiscNW’s 2019 Summer Eastside Youth Ultimate Camp and kids ages 8-16 embraced the non-contact sport during which points are scored when a team catches the flying object in its opponent’s end zone.
Nobi Lorenz, 14, who has attended the camp for the last five years, earned a coach-in-training spot this year.
“I just love how there’s all this teamwork that happens. I’ve done solo sports before like swimming and I really like working with other people here. I also really enjoy the spirit of the game and just how uplifting everyone is,” said Lorenz, who thrived while being a leader at camp and imparting his ultimate knowledge on the players, such as having a strong offense and throwing the disc in front of teammates to get the squad moving up field.
Camp director Shannon O’Malley added that the leadership skills the players gleaned from coaches are now part of their repertoire when they step into that realm and “start building up kids and giving back to the community.”
O’Malley noted that coaches play locally for the Seattle Riot, Seattle Sockeye and Seattle Mixtape as well as travel to compete nationally and internationally.
DiscNW executive director Mel Clark noted that there are about 4,500 ultimate players across the King County area and the sport is a fast-grower particularly at the elementary and middle school levels. Also on the Eastside, they are teaming up with the city of Redmond for a Learn to Play class series this fall.
Clark said that since players can’t run with the disc, they have to learn to work with their teammates, and they also learn about personal development and more along the way.
“The sport is self-refereed, and that makes it unique among sport,” Clark added. “They have to learn how to navigate the rules, call a foul and negotiate with the other team, and come to resolutions. There’s a lot of conflict resolution and learning that goes on with that.”
Former professional and college basketball star Val Whiting has even jumped on board with ultimate as DiscNW’s director of business development.
Locally, Carly Campana — a Kirkland native and alumnus of the former Three Cedars Waldorf School in Bellevue — recently helped the United States women’s national team notch the gold medal at the 2019 World Under-24 Ultimate Championships in Heidelberg, Germany. The U.S. beat Japan, 15-9, in the final.
In a 2018 Reporter story when Campana was named to the U.S. Junior National women’s under-20 ultimate squad for the second consecutive year, she said about the sport: “Ultimate is a really great game. Plus, the ultimate community in Seattle is so genuine, supportive and inspiring. I enjoy playing so much because of the people I’ve met through this sport.”