Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 27, 2013

The spirit for Ultimate: Frisbee soaring as a team sport

There are no referees. No cheerleaders. And at the end of each game, the teams sing songs to each other.

This is certainly not your typical sport.

But it is Ultimate Frisbee.

Once derided as a game for hippies, Ultimate Frisbee has attracted growing interest from “nerds and geeks” who more than likely end up at elite colleges where they continue playing the sport they love.

“People think it’s a bunch of stoners hanging around throwing a disc at each other,” said Keith Westgate, the head coach of the Andover High School program that is offered jointly with the Andover Youth Foundation. “Now it’s for the athletic, and sometimes not very athletic, nerds and geeks.”

Known as the Golden Gophers, the Andover High School teams are comprised of more than 70 boys and girls from all grades.

In addition to the high school’s junior varsity, varsity and girls teams, there is also a team at the middle school level.

The team logo — AU for Andover Ultimate — is also the chemical symbol for gold, Westgate said. And the gopher? One of the founders of the program, Tommy Proulx, was known for doing a great imitation of the dancing varmint from the movie “Caddyshack.”

Cindy Cromer, the paid Ultimate Frisbee coordinator, agreed that the sport “has always had the reputation of being a hippie sport.”

“Even the coaches at the high school say that. I say it’s not. Most of the kids who play this are very bright kids,” she said. “Look at our alums and where people have gone. They are going to top schools and all the top schools have Ultimate.”

Kylie Moynihan is a case in point: The 18-year-old who just graduated from Andover High School is going on to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, which has three teams — men’s, women’s and co-ed.

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