Region’s Frisbee scene converges in Bend

Ultimate, disc golf and dancing mark the annual event

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

With a crown perched atop his head and a drumstick tucked beneath his arm, Jesse Swain took in the action Sunday as members of the Northwest Frisbee community convened in Bend.

“People play Frisbee for the spirit of the game,” said Swain, a 26-year-old auditor from Seattle. “It’s as much about what happens after the game as it is about the game.”

Swain and his fellow Ultimate Frisbee teammates, who he said were mostly software developers, were in town for the fourth annual Disc Go Ball, a celebration of all things Frisbee at the Pine Nursery Community Park on Bend’s east side.

In Ultimate Frisbee, teams progress toward their opposition’s end zone by throwing the disc among teammates. After catching the Frisbee, a player can only take a few steps before having to throw the disc again. A dropped pass results in a turnover.

Ultimate teams competed in a “Game of Thrones”-themed tournament over the weekend while disc golfers navigated the Pine Nursery course, which was expanded from 9 to 27 holes to accommodate the festivities. There were also less-regulated activities, including a distance throwing competition and a battle to see who could keep a disc airborne the longest.

Despite the occasional ultimate competitor icing an injury on the sidelines, the competition was marked more by fervent dance sessions than players sacrificing their limbs for a win.

“We just felt like doing a bit of a dance party at halftime to get us loose,” said Kelly Hansen, 28, whose Portland-based team, the Natural 20s, was clad in duct-tape armor.

Jon Hopper, a Bendite who helped organize the event, said the weekend “brings the Frisbee community together, and gets us outside for some fun. There’s not much more to it than that.”

Taking in his team’s last game of the tournament, an effort that ended in their first win, Hopper expanded on the beauty of the game.

“If you see a big huck go up, you just hold your breath,” said Hopper, 29. “There could be a scrum, a bunch of people trying to get to it. Your eyes just open wide because you don’t know what’s coming.”

What comes after ultimate games is certain, as the two opposing sides came together after each tournament match for a “spirit game,” activities as diverse as relay races or improvisational singing games.

On Saturday night, the participants convened for an extended spirit game at the Atlas Hard Cider production warehouse near the intersection of Southeast 9th Street and Wilson Avenue. In between more dancing, the Frisbee fanatics engaged in disc fencing, where sparring partners lunged at one another with Frisbees, attempting to knock two stacked discs out of their opponent’s off hand.

Not in attendance Saturday night were some Summit High School students who participated in the tournament Sunday.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to see what ultimate really looks like,” said one of their school coaches, Christina Schueler, 24, who was playing in the tournament with old friends. “The team has grown a lot at Summit, but not so much across Bend. Maybe having events like these will help.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com