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East High Wins The Ultimate Game

Rules Of Engagement Include Fair Play, Basic Joy

Story and photos by Reid Neureiter

Special to the GPHN

East junior Ethan Cordess (orange shorts) leaps high over a Littleton player to grab the disc in the state quarterfinal match.

Denver East’s Ultimate Team being presented with the State championship Trophy–a wooden engraved disk shaped like a frisbee.

East High athletes added another piece of championship hardware to their trophy case last month, as the East Angels Boys Ultimate team took the Colorado 2018 High School Boys state title at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

East beat Lakewood High 13-7 in the May 6 championship match, having knocked off Littleton in the quarterfinals and Boulder High in the semi-final earlier in the day. East’s boys squad came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, having excelled during the spring high school season. The East championship team features a number of Park Hill residents, including junior Ethan Cordess, senior Jack Stenson, and senior John Walsh.

The sport of Ultimate – sometimes referred to as “Ultimate Frisbee” – is an exhausting, non-contact sport that combines the running and field sense of soccer with the long passing of football, and the leaping ability and hand-eye coordination of basketball.

Denver East’s Ultimate Team being presented with the State championship Trophy–a wooden engraved disk shaped like a frisbee.

The sport uses a plastic flying disc (not a “Frisbee,” since the term is a trademark of the Wham-O toy company) and two opposing teams of seven players. The field is 40 yards wide and 70 yards long, with two 25-yard deep end zones (120 yards in total).

The two teams of seven line up in the opposing end zones and the disc is put in play, with one team throwing (or “pulling”) the disc the length of the field to the other team.

The rules are simple. The disc may only be advanced by throwing it to another player; a player cannot run with the disc. A reception in the end zone scores a point. If the team with the disc drops it, makes an incompletion, throws it out of bounds, or if the disc is intercepted, the opposing team picks up the disc and off they go in the other direction. A player with the disc has 10 seconds to throw it, or else the disc is turned over. The first team to a certain point number (usually 13 or 15) wins the game.

Spirit of sportsmanship

The sport of Ultimate has grown tremendously in recent years, with most colleges sponsoring multiple teams. Denver has its own adult summer ultimate leagues, and Altitude Youth Ultimate is a nonprofit organization that sponsors middle and high school programs in Denver and Boulder.

One unique aspect of Ultimate is the “Spirit of the Game.” According to the USA Ultimate official rules, “Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.”

Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field.” Per the “Spirit of the Game,” there are no referees; players call their own fouls. According to East junior Cordess, the “Sprit of the Game” means that you “are driven by integrity and respect for your opponent.” Says Cordess, “It is part of what makes Ultimate so fun to play, and makes it so much of a community.“

So it was at the highly competitive state championship final match between East High School and Lakewood. Feats of remarkable athletic ability, leaping, sprinting, and driving for the disc, were punctuated by respect for the opponent. The players called their own fouls, and no adults interfered with the decisions. Fouls might include “traveling” – walking a few steps with the disc, or undue physical contact when trying to intercept a pass.

Uniformly, the East and Lakewood players respectfully discussed the alleged offense, decided whether an infraction had occurred, then shook hands and went back to playing the game. It was a refreshing respite from the typical soccer field or basketball courts where adult referees regularly interrupt play with whistles.

Winning the co-ed crown

The state boys title is the second state Ultimate title for East High School this school year. East also won the co-ed tournament crown (played with teams consisting of both boys and girls) last fall.

Cordess gives great credit to East’s two volunteer coaches, Jonthan “Frito” Monforti and Jesse Roehm, calling them “two best high school coaches in Colorado.” Monforti is a veteran of the famous Atlanta-based club team Chain Lightning, and Roehm is a member of Colorado’s top club team, Johnny Bravo, winner of the USA Ultimate 2014 National Championships.

East High School’s Ultimate club is a co-ed organization that encourages anyone interested to come out and join the fun. And for anyone wishing to try out the game of Ultimate, or just throw the disc a little bit, there is a regular Saturday morning pick-up Ultimate game at 10:30 a.m. near the east end of Stapleton’s Central Park.

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