You might believe there’s no connection between a fast-paced, rapidly growing international sport and a mild-mannered Chicago solid waste engineer … and you’d be wrong.
John Hock, a CEC Vice President, is an Ultimate Frisbee world champion.
He, along with his 27 Surly teammates, won the 48 and older team championship this summer in Ireland. The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) 2022 World Masters Ultimate Club Championships was held at the University of Limerick over the course of eight days in July with more than 2,700 athletes competing at the highest level.
John Hock, along with his 27 Surly teammates, won the 48 and
older team championship this summer in Ireland.
So just exactly is Ultimate Frisbee? According to the WFDF, Ultimate is a non-contact, self-refereed team sport played with a flying disc. The sport has been around for more than 50 years and is played at all levels — youth, high school, college, club, and age-based. There are women’s, men’s and co-ed teams. “More people play Ultimate Frisbee in the U.S. than rugby and lacrosse combined,” John says. “It has been spreading quickly at the youth level.”
John Hock and his cheering squad celebrate a big win.
The game requires minimal equipment. “All you need is a Frisbee and cones.” According to WFDF, “Ultimate relies upon a Spirit of the Game that places the responsibility for fair play on every player. There are no referees; the players are solely responsible for following and enforcing the rules, even at World Championship. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.”
Seven players per team compete on a playing field about the same length as a football field, but a bit narrower. A team scores when a player catches the Frisbee in the end zone, similar to football.
The player with the disc — thrower — may not run with it, instead advancing the disc by passing to teammates in any direction. That player may catch and pivot only, while the defender tries to block the throw, similar to basketball.
The defensive team gets possession of the disc if an offensive team’s throw is not caught by a player of the same team. The defensive team immediately becomes the offensive team, similar to hockey.
All 28 team members must play during the tournament. “It’s not who has the seven best players, it’s who has the deepest bench,” Hock says. The United States is divided into eight regions and 75 percent of an Ultimate Frisbee team must live in that region. He adds most of his teammates hail from Minnesota. Hock’s team is sponsored by the Surly Brewery, which is based in Minneapolis and is the genesis of the team’s name.
Hock, who’s been with CEC since 2001, says Ultimate Frisbee is a “wannabe Olympic” sport. The World Championships are a perfect pre-cursor to Olympic co-ed competition.