From 1871 to 1958, the prominent Frisbie Baking Company from Bridgeport, Connecticut, thrived, selling pies to many of the colleges in the New England area. It wasn't long before students discovered that when turned upside down, the empty pie tins could be flung back and forth. The idea of a tossing disc was born. In the early 1950's inventor Walter Frederick Morrison created the first plastic version of the flying saucer, and coined it "The Pluto Plater", capitalizing on the country's current fascination with aliens in the 1950's. After a short time, owners of the new toy company Wham-o approached him and bought the new toy. In 1957, after the closing of the Frisbie Baking Company, Wham-o renamed their flying disc "Frisbee" in homage to its origins and began the disc's first mass production, marketing it as a new sports item.
Ten years later in New Jersey, at Columbia High School, the sport of Ultimate, in its early form, was invented. With this came the first two editions of the sport's official rules. The first game was held between the high school's student council and the student newspaper staff; it became an annual event. In 1970, the first interscholastic game was held, with Columbia defeating Milburn High School. The following year, three other high schools joined,making a total of five schools involved, to form the first conference of Ultimate teams.
Alumni of that first high school league brought Ultimate to their colleges, as Rutgers defeated Princeton 29-27 in the first intercollegiate game. Interestingly, the two universities had played the first intercollegiate football game on the same ground exactly 103 years earlier. Rutgers also won that game by 2. Three years later, Yale hosted the first collegiate Ultimate tournament, featuring eight schools. Around this time, disc sports spread quickly to neighboring colleges and countries, and the first national and world events soon followed.
Eventually, the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) was formed in 1979 to govern the sport of Ultimate in the US. Since that time the UPA has grown by leaps and bounds, introducing College, Womens, Mixed, Masters, and Youth divisions, as well pushing Ultimate to become one of the fastest growing sports in the world. In late May, 2010, the organization transitioned from the Ultimate Players Association into USA Ultimate. By the end of 2012, USA Ultimate had grown to over 35,000 members.
USA Ultimate and International Play
USA Ultimate (USAU) is a not-for-profit organization that serves as the national governing body of the sport of Ultimate (also known as ultimate frisbee) in the United States. It was founded in 1979 as the "Ultimate Players Association", but rebranded itself to USAU in 2010.
Their mission is "to advance the sport of Ultimate in the United States by enhancing and promoting Character, Community, and Competition".
Through hosting clinics, organizing events, and regulating teams and roster eligibility USAU provides structure for our sport across the country for each of their three divisions: youth, college, and club. A major focus of USA Ultimate is the Championships Series; it sanctions certain tournaments that are held throughout the year in all three divisions and then runs the Championship Series - conference/sectionals, regionals, and nationals - at the end of their respective seasons. These events are governed by the 11th Edition Rules.
Another service of USA Ultimate is providing structure and regulation for the selection of our National teams at the U19, U23, and open divisions for Men's, Woman's, and Mixed. These teams compete in biennial competition at the World Games, a major event hosted by the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), that features dozens of international teams on a world stage. This event will ideally serve as a precursor to Olympic inclusion in the coming decades, something that WFDF has already received provisional recognition for by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Major recent advancements for our sport lead by USA Ultimate includes ESPN contracts that film, live stream, and broadcast many of our premier events at the college and club level, including both National Championships and the US Open.
Indiana Ultimate Foundation
The Indiana Ultimate Association (IUA) was formed in 1990 to help organize and grow Ultimate in our local area. Founded by David Hasbrook, Dave Adam and John Rempel the IUA set out to establish a co-ed adult recreational league to recruit talent for the competitive club team the Indy Eagles with an additional goal of establishing a women’s club team.
Indiana's Ultimate growth began with the Indianapolis Summer League in 1990 at the Kuntz Stadium practice field with 4 teams. The first league was successful and adult recreational ultimate had caught on in Indianapolis. The league then secured fields and a relationship with Tabernacle Church that lasted from 1991-1997 and allowed city league ultimate to grow into to spring, summer, and fall leagues with a dozen teams. The summer league alone has now grown to over 250 players spread among 16 teams that play games over 10 weeks from mid-May to the beginning of August. Eventually the Indianapolis Ultimate Association was formed to run the recreational leagues, adding winter and fall indoor playing opportunities, while the Indiana Ultimate Association began to focus on developing youth Ultimate in Indiana.
The Indiana Ultimate Association, lead by Al Geisler, hosted its first High School State Championship in 2007, which served as a probationary year. The first USAU sanctioned HS state championship took place in Noblesville, IN on June 14, 2008 hosting just three teams. Martinsville was crowned the champion, Center Grove finished second and Bloomington finished third. Since then, youth ultimate has grown to over 15 high schools throughout the state.
In more recent history, the Indiana Ultimate Association put forward collective efforts to begin our State's first USA Ultimate Youth Club Championship team, named, Indiana INferno. This team is a youth club team that represents the best of youth Ultimate in Indiana. Each year, this team attends a couple practice tournaments, and then heads to Blaine, Minnesota, to compete on a national stage against the best teams from around the country. The IUA plans to add a girls team for YCC in 2015.
In late 2014, with the state's continued growth, the need for a more comprehensive organization became clear. Many leaders from around Indiana came together to form the Indiana Ultimate Foundation. The IUF is now made up of a board of directors, who attend quarterly meetings to discuss the needs of the Ultimate community and develop strategies for creating growth. Beyond the board, there are eight committee chairs dedicated to working on specific needs within our Ultimate community, as well as a dozen volunteers. The IUF continues to tackle the large project of running this website in order to improve our "same page" efforts, communication, and organization. The organization also disseminates the resources anyone in the community might need, works to make the sport more accessible through community outreach, and is dedicated to running premier tournament events and educational opportunities such as coaching, player, and athletic training clinics.
In 2012, the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) premiered as the first ever professional Ultimate league. Founded with 8 teams, and since expanding to its current 26 teams, it features paid to play players from around the country that represent their cities' best Ultimate talent. In contrast to the usual tournament style play of USA Ultimate, the pro leagues take part in weekly home and away games throughout the regular season, and then a play off series ending in a championship event. Other adjustments from traditional Ultimate include and increased field size, a lowered stall count, inclusion of referees, and small rule changes to help make the game as exciting and spectator friendly as possible.