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Published on Mar 17, 2019
Ultimate frisbee is not your typical sport. According to a study done by author Gerald Griggs, it’s considered an alternative or lifestyle sport. But in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), the sport has gained in popularity in recent years, and the USVI joins many across the nation, and even internationally, in supporting the sport.
Chris Kierstead has been playing Ultimate every week for the last couple of years with a group on St. Croix. Chris says the game has been played since at least the eighties. “It’s been a long time. I think definitely since the 80s,” said Chris. “They played in Canegata, and it might even be earlier than that, say in the late 70s with about 10 people, and a couple of those guys are still around. Dean Fennessy played with that original group, and got that started out there,” concluded Chris.
So, what is ultimate frisbee? According to the same study done by Griggs, titled “Just a Sport Made Up in a Car Park, the Soft Landscape of Ultimate Frisbee,” ultimate is a fast-paced, non-contact, mixed team sport played with a flying disc, which marries features of a number of 'invasion' games, such as American Football and netball, into a simple yet, demanding game. “Ultimate frisbee is a game that you play with a regular frisbee, with two teams on a field of about the size of a soccer field, and I has end zones like a football field,” remarked Chris. “You cannot run with the frisbee, so you throw the frisbee forward to your teammates, and when your teammate catches it, they have to stop and then they’re looking for somebody else to throw it to and you advance it down the field until somebody catches it in the end zone. The other team is trying to block the disc, there’s no contact, it’s like the amount of contact you’d expect in basketball. And if your team drops the frisbee, then the other team picks it up right there and tries to go back the other way,” said Chris.
In recent years, the VI has hosted tri-island tournaments between St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix at least twice a year. Most recently, the St. Croix group just joined the World Flying Disc Federation out of Germany, so they’ll be competing in the Pan American tournament in Sarasota, Florida in November. Practices are held every Monday and Thursday at 5:00 pm at the Leatherback Brewery, and all skill levels are welcome.