Wildwood Daze-Looking back on a Beach Ultimate Frisbee Wham-O of a weekend

Updated: Sep 4, 2021


A flying disc (also called a Frisbee or simply a disc) is a gliding toy or sporting item that is generally made of injection-molded plastic and roughly 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in diameter with a pronounced lip.


*All photos Howard E. Greenberg except when noted.


A special thank you to Howard too for contributions and turning me onto Beach Ultimate!



(above)

The Beach Ultimate Frisbee line-up and positioning at the beginning of game and after each score.

Photo: David Whitman


Let's begin with a little Frisbee-tory


Walter Frederick Morrison and his future wife Lucile fought their tryptophan malaise by tossing a popcorn can lid after Thanksgiving Day dinner in 1937. Little did they know that nearly a century later people would gather from around the world on a strip of sand along the New Jersey coast to toss what the popcorn lid eventually evolved into: the "frisbee," a plastic disc loved by both human and canine alike.


What's In A Name


The name frisbee emerged in 1937 when Yale students started a craze by tossing empty Frisbie pie company tins after devouring another one of their popular baked dough and fruit, custard, or cream- filled confections. By 1958 however, Frisbie pie company was history so Wham-O re-named their Pluto platter the frisbee and we are all the better for it. Pluto platter Beach Ultimate? Umm, no...the name change was wise. All's well that ends well too as today there is room for two frisbees in the world because the long-defunct Frisbie pie company was resurrected (with their original recipes!) in 2016.


The various faces of the flying disc through the years. Share you frisbee pics or favorite frisbee story in the comments below.


Ultimate Frisbee-born in Jersey


As for Ultimate Frisbee sans sand, it emerged in the late 1960s. In 1968, Joel Silver introduced his idea of Ultimate Frisbee to the Columbia High School student council in Maplewood New Jersey, USA. The next year, the first game was played between two groups of students.


In 1969 a team had been formed at the school and they played not on soft beach sand but upon the unforgiving asphalt jungle of a parking lot. In a truly DIY manner the only lines that existed were the goal lines-marked by the telephone poles or piles of the players' coats.


The beach element was added sometime in the 1990s maybe, and in Italy, perhaps. The origins of Beach Ultimate is as murky as the Atlantic on a stormy day.


Enough of the past as we come back to the present day and my introduction to the world of Beach Ultimate


There's a great thing about having no idea what will happen when you walk out the door or into a door (that's opened of course) because that's the space where things occur that can shift an entire weekend's focus. I went live for a tour of the Lazy Eye distillery


While I was there I met Howard Greenberg and his wife, Suzanne. They enthusiastically turned me onto the Beach Ultimate event happening that weekend. Watch that conversation below:



Let's take a look at the game affectionally called Beach Ultimate:


There are normally two leagues playing: beer league and competitive. Everyone is in the same league with different divisions.