Westport’s artists’ colony roots are renowned. We’re well known too for our boldface residents in culture, business and home decorating mavenhood.
But we’re also an important part of Ultimate Frisbee history.
In the early 1970s, Staples fielded one of the 1st high school teams in the country. The Class of 1974 was filled with some of Ultimate’s movers and shakers. Ron Kaufman, for instance, spent 2 decades traveling the world, promoting the game, and building a company dedicated to all things disc.
Others, Johnny Frisbeeseed-like, nurtured the sport on college campuses and in communities across America.
This Saturday, during the Class of ’74’s reunion weekend, they’ll sponsor a special game at Staples. More than 20 former players will face off at noon against current students and teachers. Kaufman is flying in from Singapore; former teammates will join him from California, Texas, Minnesota and Ohio.
Al Jolley will be there too. Ultimate Frisbee was born at his alma mater — New Jersey’s Columbia High School. As a young math teacher he brought the sport here.
His squad was innovative. The earliest teams were coed. Staples players also revised the rules to promote “honorable” play (and reduce the alarming number of injuries resulting from overzealous defense).
By late 1972 Staples’ Ultimate team scrimmaged 3 times a week (they had no opponents). Jolley created the team uniform: jeans and light blue turtlenecks.
The 1st interscholastic match in Connecticut was played in April 1973. Staples whipped Weston, 24-9. That may have been the 1st coed interscholastic sports match of any sport in the state.
A few days later Staples hosted Columbia High in the 1st interstate school match. The Wreckers beat the game’s inventors 18-8. (Okay, Columbia was missing several key players. A few weeks later, the New Jerseyans thumped Staples in a rematch.)
Kaufman and Dan Buckley formed a townwide Ultimate team in 1976. they also organized a summer tournament with teams from Brown and UConn.
Today, more than 3 decades later, Westporters play Ultimate Frisbee every Sunday at Wakeman. At least 1 of the regulars is a former Staples player.
If you have too much time on your hands, check out Staples’ role in the game at www.ultimatehistory.com.
Organizers invite all Westporters to Saturday’s reunion game at Staples. They promise plenty of surprises.
Ultimately, of course, it promises to be plenty of fun.
Thanks for the blog on the reunion and the commemorative Ultimate game. Weather permitting, we hope to draw a good crowd and let anyone who wants to join the game at some point.
We also hope you’ll be there, at least to assure we don’t tear up your lovely field too badly!
— Jonathan Steinberg, Staples ’74
Cool picture. Ultimate is a great game and can truly be the basis of great memories!