An Ultimate Frisbee Team Comes to Philly

They're called the Spinners, and they're here to win.

By J. Cooper Robb
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 9 | Posted Mar. 20, 2012

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It used to be that when you mentioned the Spinners and Philadelphia, you were referring to the famed R&B group that recorded at Center City’s legendary Sigma Sound studio in the 1970s. The new Spinners still rely on discs, only now they are the flying variety used by the city’s newest sports franchise, the Philadelphia Spinners.

Combining elements of football, basketball, soccer and rugby, ultimate Frisbee originated in the late 1960s at a high school in nearby Maplewood, N.J. Though the sport has gone international with teams in every corner of the globe, the Spinners will be one of the eight teams participating in the inaugural season of the American Ultimate Disc League.

So what exactly is this game? Even if you’ve never thrown a Frisbee in your life, the rules are relatively simple. Each squad is comprised of 25 players, though only 20 suit up for any particular game. Seven players are on the field for each team. To score, a team must catch the disc in the opponent’s end zone. Each score is worth one point and you must advance the disc through the air; you’re not allowed to run with it in your possession. A team loses control of the disc if it hits the ground, is caught out of bounds or is intercepted by the other team. After each score, there is a kick-off. Similar to football, different players specialize in either offense or defense, and the quarterback (known as the “handler”) is the most skilled passer on the team.

The Spinners are led by General Manager and Coach Jeff Snader. Snader, 34, served in the Marines until 2000 and captained the Corp’s rugby team when he was stationed in Hawaii. When he returned home to Broomall, his brother suggested he give ultimate a try. Hesitant at first, Snader fell in love with the game and after playing for eight years, became coach of Philly’s club team. When the Spinners asked him to be the pro squad’s GM and head coach, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

And while he loves the game, “winning is fruitless without integrity.” Luckily, the game has a rule on that, too. The “integrity rule” refers to a player’s ability to overrule a call by the referee, providing the result is not in the player’s favor. “If I catch the disc and I realize my foot is out of bounds and the referee rules the catch is good I can over-rule the referee,” Snader explains. “It is one of the foundations of ultimate that you need to have integrity.” He adds that even with four referees working each AUDL game, making the correct call is difficult considering players can hurl a disc 80 yards in a matter of seconds. “I think the integrity aspect is a wonderful part of the sport considering in other sports, kids are often taught whatever you can get away with is OK if it benefits the team. The players on our team want to win as much as players in any other sport but not if it means sacrificing their integrity.”

Snader says there are more than five million ultimate players nationwide and an estimated 200,000 in the surrounding area who participate in organized leagues.

The AUDL is hoping to make fans out of the millions who already enjoy the sport. The team has purposefully kept the ticket prices low (only $14 each), so an entire family can attend without having to take out a second mortgage.

The Spinners’ eight home games will be played at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field beginning with an April 14 clash against the Buffalo Hunters. If all goes well, the team will compete in the championship game on Aug. 11 in Detroit’s Silverdome.

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Comments 1 - 9 of 9
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1. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:17AM

“$14 is more than what the 76ers”

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2. Corey said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:12AM

“I am totally willing to pay 14 dollars a ticket to help support and promote Ultimate. The thought of attending a professional Ultimate game where there will be hundreds, maybe thousands of fans that appreciate the game as much as the person sitting next to them and share the knowledge that Ultimate is the fastest growing sport in the doesn't get any better than that...right? The icing would that be that maybe soon, just maybeeee... we won't have to hear "Ultimate Frisbee? That's not a real sport... right?" ever again!”

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3. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:25PM

“Yeah, the Sixers charge $10 for seats you cant see the court from all the way up to $174 for center court seats. The Spinners tix are $14 to sit anywhere in Franklin Field. Seems like it would be worth a look.”

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4. Chris said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 03:14PM

“Really, you should be comparing ticket prices to the Eagles, who have a similar number of home games as the Spinners. $14/ticket is extremely reasonable if you ask me.

If you've never seen Ultimate played at an elite level, you're in for quite a treat. Incredible display of athleticism, skill, & passion.

I already bought my season tickets. GO SPINNERS!”

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5. Gary Auerbach said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 03:51PM

“Very excited that Ultimate is making a debut like this!
Looking forward to attending as many games as possible!

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 04:15PM

“Frisbee? They should pay us $14 to watch it.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2012 at 11:43AM

“The shape of the object being thrown doesnt change how athletic these plays look! Go to youtube and search for "upa nationals highights" and you'll get a sense of what Ultimate looks like at a high level.”

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8. Scoot said... on Mar 29, 2012 at 06:00AM

“Is it still BYOB? Do the captains homebrew? referrees? Is it still Dick Marxson? This aint the ultimate remember, but I'll watch that moves!”

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9. MommaBaer said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 06:03PM

“Cannot wait to see this! High School and College level games were always so much fun. Professional players...WOW. Looking forward to the season.”


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