Steamboat’s ultimate Frisbee team makes strides, enters competitions | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s ultimate Frisbee team makes strides, enters competitions

Dave Shively

— Paul Zaleski is serious about ultimate Frisbee.

He has competed in the fast-paced, disc-hurling, end zone-hunting sport for nearly 20 years. He’s lived in Steamboat Springs for the past three, when he’s not busy flying back to his native Columbus, Ohio, to compete with his long-time men’s league teammates in a quest to return to a national championship event.

Zaleski brings his passion for competition to the Team of Steamboat Springs, a coed mixture of veteran and aspiring ultimate Frisbee players who meet twice a week for pick-up games and practices in the summer.

“It’s just a thrill to run with a purpose,” Zaleski said by phone before a Wednesday practice in Ohio. “I was never motivated to road run. It’s exciting to get the adrenaline going in the flow of a game, passing from player to player until it gets caught in the end zone. And there’s spectacular plays with people diving for the disc on offense and defense.”

In the past year, TOSS has made the step up to regional competition. Last season, Steamboat headed to the Lungbuster tournament in Breckenridge for its first tournament appearance in 11 years. This summer, the team kicked off the summer season June 23 and 24 at the Colorado Ultimate Association Altitude Adjustment Tournament at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. This weekend they returned to the Lungbuster, where they went 2-4 but made significant improvements.

“It’s a gradual process, but we’re making huge strides in the tournaments compared to last year – we went from 22nd last year (out) of 24 teams, to 19th this year, playing better teams and having much closer scores,” said Zaleski, pointing to Steamboat’s Saturday losses in which it was outscored only 32-26.

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For TOSS member Caitlyn McKenzie, who helps organize the team, the game is more about an “open, friendly environment” than scores, wins and losses.

“Ultimate is about having fun on the field – there’s no refs and there’s no contact,” McKenzie said. “It’s more about the sportsmanship.”

McKenzie hopes to keep the team going as long as it can play outside. Plans are in the works for a trip to tournaments in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Fort Collins and in forming a women’s team. But until then, she hopes to continue turning out participants for the local games. Games and practices are from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the Ski Town and Whistler Park fields.

– To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com