BANGOR, Maine — Bangor area residents have a great opportunity to see some of the best local athletes around Thursday nights in July. At dusk, these athletes assemble on the soccer field at James F. Doughty school, but spectators won’t witness soccer.
Instead people will find the players from the Queen City Ultimate Frisbee League.
Queen City Ultimate is a league established this summer by locals Dan Bullard and Josh Kearns.
“I found out I was going to have to come back to Bangor for the summer and there was no way I could go without playing,” said 20-year-old Bullard, noting his desire to play was the initial factor in starting a competitive league in Bangor.
Bullard, a junior at Keene State College in New Hampshire, started playing Ultimate Frisbee during his junior year at Bangor High School. In high school it was mostly pick-up games, but things changed for Bullard once he got to Keene.
“When I got to college, it started to get a lot more intense,” he said. “We had drills, weekly practices and workouts, and then tournaments every week in the spring.”
The process of getting the league going started in November, as Bullard collected 40 people on Facebook who were interested in the league. After obtaining potential players, Bullard gathered Kearns, Brian Chalifour and Anthony Mourino to help put the plan into motion.
“We’re all young guns and had a lot of motivation to put this whole thing together,” said Chalifour.
Bullard worked hard to assemble and gain publicity, but noted the bulk of the work was done by Kearns to obtain uniforms and find financial support for the organization.
“One thing that should be mentioned that is very important to me is the work and dedication Josh put into this,” said Bullard. “He did all the real work here.”
The league has three teams in its inaugural season, as there are two games a night with one team playing a doubleheader each week.
There are no requirements or restrictions in registering for the league, as shown by the wide variety of players seen on the field. There are 42 players in the league, with ages ranging between 16-50 and the experience level from veterans to first-time players.
“I started playing when I was in graduate school back in 1991,” said Larkspur Morton.
Morton, a member of the previous Bangor summer league 10 years ago, has seen the game evolve.
“The level of play and overall competitiveness has improved enormously across the board since,” said Morton. “I’ve been coaching a high school team and they are absolutely amazing.”
The game itself is similar to that of soccer or football, in that teams try to pass the Frisbee upfield toward the opposing team’s end zone and score. Each team has seven players with set positions on the field. Possession changes hands when the Frisbee is intercepted, touches the ground or goes out of bounds.
Chalifour explained that positions make the game more fun compared to being unorganized.
“I’m a handler, so whenever I can get that throw deep and on the money it makes things fun for me,” he said, noting his ability to throw for distance. “Basically if you take off running, I am going to get it to you.”
Though the athletes have a great deal of skill, the game ultimately thrives off sportsmanship.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me the reason why they play ultimate is because of the spirit of the game,” said Morton. “I’ve been really impressed on how the spirit has maintained over the years and through the growth.”
Chalifour, the assignment editor for WVII ABC 7 in Bangor, sees the game as a great way to relax after work and make great life connections.
“It works pretty well into my schedule, especially during the summer,” he said. “It’s just great to have a couple of teams come out here and play.”
Queen City Ultimate has set down a foundation, with plans for expansion and further development already in the works, according to Bullard.
“We would like to revamp the league next year so it is bigger and more accessible to surrounding cities. I can see Bangor getting up to 10 teams in the next three or four years if people get out and see that the sport is cheap, fun and easy to learn,” he said.
Bullard also has discussed starting youth camps during the summer months to get younger players interested in the sport at an early age.
While the plans have plenty of promise, Bullard understands further funding will be needed in order to grow.
“We dabbled in trying to get sponsorships this year, but due to a lack of commitment from groups things got nixed the week before we got started,” he said.
For now though, the success and growth of Queen City Ultimate will rely on the players and how far they want to take things.
“Word of mouth is definitely going to be big in spreading the word,” Chalifour said. “Just simple things like posting flyers and wearing our uniforms around town will help the cause even more.”