The Journey to a Championship Begins with a Phone Call

Lori Daniels catches an Under the Leg.

Lori Daniels Catches an Under the Leg.

Lori Daniels, one of Portland’s World Champion Freestyle Frisbee players feels a tingle of excitement and a little nervous as she dials the phone. Ring…ring…

”Hello?” On the other end is James Wiseman, one of the up and coming stars in the sport who hails from Austin, Texas. James and his crew are also the hosts of the first annual American Freestyle Open (AFO) taking place on November 14-16, 2014.

James Wiseman Catches a Gitis.

James Wiseman Catches a Gitis.

“So, there’s this tournament coming up. You know, AFO?” (as if he didn’t know)… “I wonder if you have a partner for Mixed Pairs yet?”  she asks, sheepishly. Dialogues like this happen time and time again for Freestyle Frisbee players looking to form a competitive team. If they agree to partner, it signifies the beginning of a complex and emotional journey.

A Freestyle Frisbee competition is a little like pairs figure skating or a dance competition. Players form teams of two or three and perform their Frisbee tricks in front of a judging panel of their peers.

“I don’t have a partner yet. Are you asking?” asks James.

“Well, when we jam together it’s always to easy to read your sets. We have a great connection. I think we could ‘spon’ and do really well.” responds Lori.

During a “Jam” (non-competitive Freestyle play) all the tricks are spontaneous. However, one of the central strategies for competition is whether to plan out and practice each and every trick ahead of time, or to just go on stage and be “spon”taneous.

“Plus, we both play Clock.” adds Lori.

Another unexpected concern for Freestyle Frisbee players is the direction the Frisbee is spinning while doing tricks: clockwise or counter-clockwise. A Frisbee spinning clockwise tilts to the left, counter clockwise tilts to the right. This phenomenon means each trick must be learned twice, once for each spin. Or, more accurately, a player will have a dominant spin; clock or counter. Finding a match can be key to success.

“Wow, I’m excited that you’re asking me. OK, what about music?” asks James.

During competition, players perform their tricks to music. Agreeing on a music choice is considered by many to be one of the most difficult parts of preparing for competition. This choice often sets the tone for the rest of their partnership. Music creates the basic structure of a freestyle performance since Musicality (how the tricks and music are integrated together) is one of the major aspects being judged.

“I’d think we should play to something upbeat and modern. I’m really open to ideas, but I have a few a I can share too. So what do you say? Do you want to be my mixed pairs partner for AFO?”

“Of course. I would love to partner with you. I think we will make a great team. In fact, I think we have a great chance at winning.”

And with that, a new team is formed and a journey begins. They will choose their music, decide how much to practice and choreograph, and then attempt to win the Mixed Pairs title at the first annual American Freestyle Open. But, with the tournament happening in less than a month, there’s not much time to prepare.

In the next article in the Portland series we’ll talk more about the American Freestyle Open, what it means for our home town Freestyle Frisbee Players, and what it will take for them to bring home gold.

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