KINGSTON, R.I. – June 27, 2016 – The International Olympic Committee decided last year to recognize Ultimate Frisbee. Now the University of Rhode Island will host a tournament featuring athletes who are among the best at throwing and catching a flying disc while sprinting across a soccer-like field.
The U.S. Open Ultimate Championships will be held Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4 at URI’s athletic complex on the Kingston Campus, including Meade Stadium, where championship matches will be held. First-round play on Friday and Saturday runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public. However, tickets are required for the semifinal and final action on Sunday and Monday. Tournament passes are $15 per person, children 12 and under are free U.S. Open.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, USA Ultimate, the nonprofit governing body of the sport, will run a free Learn to Play Clinic for youngsters to learn skills and about the Spirit of the Game.
Semifinal and consolation games will be held on Sunday, July 3. Then on Monday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the top two teams in each of the mixed women’s and men’s divisions will play at Meade Stadium to determine the U.S. Open champions. There are admission fees for semifinal and final action on Sunday and Monday.
USA Ultimate is running the tournament, but it took the combined efforts of URI’s Office of Conferences and Special Program Development, Department of Campus Recreation and the Rhode Island Sports Commission to get USA Ultimate to commit to URI.
“We are thrilled to be bringing one of our premier events to Rhode Island”, commented USA Ultimate Chief Executive Officer Tom Crawford, a Rhode Island native. “New England is a hotbed for our sport, and we hope that it will continue to grow super fast here in Rhode Island. Families should come and check it out. It’s a wicked fun sport, and is played at more than 800 colleges and universities across the U.S. Many of these teams are in our Pro flight, so the action will be top tier!”
“We have been trying to book this at URI for years, and so we are excited to bring this to campus,” said Joseph Pittle, URI director of Conferences and Special Programs. “This is another exciting event we have brought to our beautiful campus. Fans are going to be able to watch great athletes who could become Olympic athletes. We’re also excited that ESPN is going to show the semifinal and championship matches online on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN mobile app.”
Pittle said patrons will be able enjoy the offerings of multiple food trucks as well. “So come on out to URI to watch some great athletes. It’s going to be a great holiday weekend at the University.”
Thirty-four men’s, women’s and mixed teams from all over the country, Canada, Colombia and Panama will compete in the four-day tournament. The field includes several New England area teams like defending national champions Boston Brute Squad (women), Boston Ironside (men) and mixed teams Boston Wild Card and Boston Slow White, as well as teams with such names as Seattle Sockeye, Denver Molly Brown, San Francisco Polar Bears, and Winnipeg General Strike. Players and tournament officials will be staying in area hotels and URI residence halls during the event.
Like soccer, the game requires speed, endurance, skill and strategy. Points are scored by passing the disc into the opposing team’s 20-yard end zone at the end of a 70-by-40-yard field. There is no contact between players and the disc is advanced quickly, requiring players to sprint hard from beginning to end. Each game is played to 15 points and lasts at most two hours. Ultimate Frisbee is also unique in that players officiate their own games. Each team fields seven players at a time.
“This is a great event that we hope turns into a longstanding partnership involving URI, USA Ultimate and the Rhode Island Sports Commission,” said Jodi Hawkins, director of recreational programs and services at URI. “John Gibbons of the Rhode Island Sports Commission; Brian Boesch, manager of turf grass and athletic grounds at URI; and Joe Pittle worked hard to bring this to URI.
“It’s fitting that we are hosting this great event because we have a thriving ultimate club program here, with men’s and women’s A and B teams, which regularly host collegiate tournaments on our fields,” Hawkins said. “We hope our student-athletes come out to see these elite players, and we invite ultimate teams, collegiate or otherwise, to join us at the tournament.”
Since URI’s commencement, May 21 and 22, URI’s Office of Conferences and Special Program Development has booked several events that have drawn thousands to the Kingston Campus, including 3,000 people for the Rhode Island Special Olympics’ 48th annual State Games, 600 for the Tour de Cure cycling event to benefit the American Diabetes Association, 450 for the Bike MS cycling tour to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference and Pro Ambitions Hockey Camp.
Men’s co-captain Alex Jenkins reaches high to make a catch.
Photo courtesy of Chris Daigle, URI club sports