Colorado’s first-ever pro Frisbee team could soon become world champions

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Colorado’s first professional Ultimate Disc team has a chance to win an American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) championship in its first season.

The Colorado Summit assembled its first roster this summer in hopes of bringing professional ultimate to the Colorado Rockies.

Sal Pace is one of the owners. Pace is now in his 40s and has been playing Ultimate recreationally since high school.

“In terms of athletics and sport, it’s incredibly fun to watch. The disk just floats so beautifully and you can curve it in any direction,” he said.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Nicolas Leitmann-Niimi jumps for a disc during test rides for the Colorado Summit Pro Ultimate Team on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022. The team assembled its first roster just months ago. Now they are in the playoffs.

Pace is a former legislator and minority leader of the Democratic House of Representatives, former Pueblo County Commissioner, and former congressional candidate. Now, as he watches friends and former colleagues prepare for the midterm election season, he wraps up his first season in pro sports. And that’s a big change.

“Why did I decide to buy a professional Frisbee franchise?” Pace conceded, “A lot of it had to do with COVID and just like everyone else’s existential realization of what’s important, or this existential question, what’s in one’s life.” most important to people.

“And I realized that there is probably nothing I enjoy more, no activity in my life that has brought me more joy and happiness than ultimate.”

Although most people still casually refer to this sport as Ultimate Frisbee, it’s technically Ultimate or Ultimate Disc because the term Frisbee is trademarked.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Tryouts for the Colorado Summit Pro Ultimate Disc Team on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022.

Pace says it was a victory to host the Colorado Summit. But the team has gone above and beyond. They lost just one game in the regular season (11-1), took home the Western Division title and are in the quarterfinals of the playoffs – just one win away from AUDL’s Championship Weekend in Madison, WI.

“I think it’s a great representation of how great our coaches are and how much work our team has put in to compete at this level,” said Josh Morris, who formed and enjoyed the team with his identical twin brother Jon Visit to various cities in the AUDL.

“Especially as our inaugural season.”

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colorado Summit Pro Ultimate Team on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022.

The sport is a bit like soccer, non-stop, fast-paced play until someone scores. And while it’s not mainstream, it has an avid following. According to Pace, Colorado had the best fan attendance of any team in the country that season.

“Frisbee’s community is unlike any other sport I’ve played,” said player Quinn Finer, who grew up in Fort Collins near Ultimate and later University of Colorado bouldering and club teams. He says the greatest benefit for him personally is the sense of camaraderie.

“I played hockey when I was younger and the community in Frisbee is something pretty amazing. Something you don’t see often in sport.”

Players say that the spirit of the game is capitalized. Most Ultimate Club leagues are self-official and have a heavy focus on sportsmanship when it comes to contentious calls. There is a rule of honor in the AUDL whereby a player can overrule an umpire’s decision, but only if it helps the opposing team.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colorado Summit Ultimate Pro Team tryouts on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022.

And nobody plays this sport to get rich. Colorado players earn $500 per season plus their hotel and travel expenses.

For Morris, Colorado Summit has given him an exciting opportunity to play in the sport’s premier professional league and on Colorado’s first professional Ultimate Team.

“I’ve had to fund myself through Frisbee and so have the opportunity to play Frisbee at a super competitive level where I’m under no financial obligation to cover those costs and in the end I’m still enjoying it. To this day I’m just here, to throw some plastic and have fun.”

Ultimate teams are typically connected to fans and their community – both through local leagues and through funding.

Many of Summit’s players are current or former club and college players who live in the area. And in Colorado fashion, the team is sponsored by Wana Brands, a Boulder-based cannabis edibles company. Pace currently works as a policy advisor in the areas of cannabis and rail passenger transport.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Tryouts for the Colorado Summit Pro Ultimate Disc Team on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022.

On the ownership side, Pace says he kind of compares his love for Ultimate to the energy and passion he brings to politics and campaigning.

“I’m probably way too involved in social media to be promoting it and checking on how social media and followers are doing or anything. And just as a candidate, even when I was running for Congress, I was way too committed, too committed, rather than letting other people take over at times.”

But Pace says Ultimate matters to the people who love it and he just wants the team to be successful.

“Getting everyone together and trying to build a community is not unlike a political campaign.”

The Summit playoff game will be held on August 20 at the University of Denver’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. Game time is 8:30 p.m

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Tryouts for the Colorado Summit Pro Ultimate Disc Team on a University of Denver field. January 23, 2022.
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