Alameda’s own “Junior Meat” (middle-school Ultimate Frisbee team), won both the State Championship and the “Spirit of the Game” award in the California State Ultimate Middle School Tournament held on May 17-18, 2014. While the Championship is based on scoring, the “Spirit of the Game” award is earned from participating teams rating each other on fair play and good sportsmanship.
Though played nationally and internationally by thousands of adult club teams and college teams (there are more colleges with Ultimate teams than football teams), Ultimate is considered an “emerging” sport at the middle school level, but one that it is growing swiftly, especially in California.
“California is currently the only state with a USA Ultimate-sanctioned state tournament for middle-schoolers,” said Rand Wrobel, longtime coach and developer of Alameda’s Ultimate program. “Teams are seeded based on scrimmages and area tournaments, with about 10 teams competing annually in the state championship over the past 5 years.”
“Having as many middle school-level teams as we do in the Bay Area is a rare and lucky occurrence,” said Shana Rocklin, league coordinator for the Alameda middle school team. “Coaches in other regions and states not only struggle to find other teams to play, but even to put together a full roster.”
Alameda’s “Junior Meat” team is an outgrowth of the Alameda Ultimate Frisbee program founded by teacher Mike De Sousa at the Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) in the early 2000’s. Depending on the year, the program hosts up to three teams: “Dark Meat” (high school boys or mixed), “Sweet Meat” (girls), and “Junior Meat” (middle school/mixed). The teams call ACLC home, but they welcome players from all other Alameda middle schools as well as home-schooled kids. (Interested players can contact Shana Rocklin at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alameda’s Ultimate program is unusual because it runs the entire school year, while most programs run only as a spring elective. That dedication may be the secret to Alameda Ultimate’s ongoing success — the high school team “Dark Meat” has won nine State championships over the past decade.
It’s a high bar when a sport is called “Ultimate,” but fans say it combines the best features of soccer, basketball, football and netball into an elegant, yet demanding game. Ultimate is a non-contact sport played between two teams of seven players on a large rectangular field with a flying Frisbee disc. Players cannot run with the disc, they must fly it person-to-person up or down the field. Like football, goals are scored when a team completes a disc pass to a player in the proper end zone.Ultimate is unique because it is self-refereed by the players, even at the World Championship level. According to a code of conduct known as the “Spirit of the Game,” players take personal responsibility for playing fair. The conduct code grew out of the game’s counter-culture roots on college campuses in the late 1960’s and truly distinguishes it from other sports.