With students dropping into the nascent months of the school year, they’ll begin to form friendships, build camaraderie, and potentially have their interest stoked in group activities that are the natural progression of these things: sports. Football, basketball and wrestling are all popular Fall season sports, but there’s one black sheep of the sports family that’s looking for recognition. That sport is Ultimate Frisbee.

The non-physical sport — involving not much else besides willing bodies and a frisbee — is easy to dismiss, but Grant Boyd, executive director of ultimate frisbee league Southern California Youth Ultimate, feels the sport should be taken just as seriously as others.

Boyd has been running a beach league for the sport in Santa Monica for several years, but with the opening of Lincoln Middle School’s new field and a City invitation to use that space, Boyd is trying to get more eyes on the sport.

“Quite frankly, it’s just a really cool sport,” Boyd says with a laugh. “Most people consider it an alternative to traditional sports, but we feel it’ll revolutionize how parents and kids see sports. We develop great athletes and people.”

For those unfamiliar, Boyd calls the sport a mixture of basketball-meets-soccer-meets-football, with teams throwing a frisbee to teammates (a la football), taking a few steps per possession (basketball-ish) in order to get to an end zone (football). But what can be revolutionary about tossing a frisbee around?

Boyd says two things, mainly, with the first being non-contact. In an age of concussion awareness, he says a non-contact sport is a “no-brainer” with Ultimate Frisbee avoiding lifetime injuries that other more physical sports could possibly accrue with their players.

Next would be self-officiating. “We’re teaching [players] peaceful conflict resolution. How to have discussions with an opponent in a possibly heated moment. To actually listen to another human being, see their perspective and reach a reasonable solution is the rules, but it’s also a life lesson.”

Jennifer Morgerman, a parent who helped nudge the City to allow the sport at Lincoln Middle School’s field, is passionate about the sport.

She says the non-contact and peaceful resolution aspects appealed to her (“Doesn’t that demonstrate exactly the kind of world we want to show our kids, especially right now?”), but the inclusiveness of the sport made her a lifelong fan.

“Ultimate appeals to the kind of kid I see a lot of, one that I think often gets left out of team sports …  This is the kid who would love it and really benefit from it, but for whatever reason … more traditional offerings are just not the right fit for them.”

Boyd is taking steps to introduce the sport to schools, attempting to make it an official sport.  

He’s worked with the afterschool program LA’s Best and has done Ultimate Frisbee clinics with CREST Sports, a non-competitive Santa Monica recreational program. His biggest dreams are seeing the sport as a varsity sport someday and hopefully even see it in the Olympics.

Yes, the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee recently recognized frisbee as a sport, opening up eligibility for a 2024 or 2028 run for the sport.  

“It would be incredibly cool for Santa Monica to start producing talents and developing athletes to be the face of Ultimate Frisbee. This could be ground zero for the beginning of that.”

SCYU’s Back to School sessions begin September 7. For more information on Boyd and Ultimate Frisbee, visit SCYU.org

angel@smdp.com

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