BY MARK GOODSON — On April 18, as the sounds of Hyattsville’s annual parade echoed through Magruder Park, it was ‘game-on’ for Colin Riggs and his group of enthusiastic ultimate frisbee players. Though Riggs ran in the Azalea Classic that morning, he showed no lag in energy. The eight who joined him, of varying age and skill level, matched his enthusiasm.
Once a player in the WAFC (Washingtion Area Frisbee Association) Riggs’ life changed gears in 2004, when he and his wife were expecting their first child. Settling in Hyattsville, Riggs sought to maintain his passion for the sport while shedding the travel time and cost of league play.
“I publicized the idea on various listservs at the time and started showing up on Saturday mornings with cones and discs,” Riggs said. Now, ten years later, a core group of avid disc-flingers congregate at Magruder religiously.
In the shadow of the park-turned fair ground and beside the workmen setting up that evening’s fireworks, two twenty-yard end zones were established, and the game began.
Riggs first started playing Ultimate at retreats in high school. At Guilford College, he played more seriously for a team that practiced three days a week and played games on the weekends. It was “the camaraderie of being part of a team [that] really cemented my commitment to Ultimate as a sport,” said Riggs.
That camaraderie is evident on Saturday mornings from 10:30 a.m. until noon. While competitive, the group is fun-loving. It is the low-key nature of the game that attracts players from all walks of life. Anyone can join.
“It comes out of a cooperative pastime. It attracts people who are interested in athletics but not especially passionate about the other major sports,” Riggs said. “There is a cultural association with a relaxed ‘hippie’ counterculture, and the way the game is designed with players calling their own fouls and a commitment to the ‘spirit’ of the game all lead to a fun-seeking style of play.”
It’s how John Feffer, a seven year regular, gets his exercise. “I hate jogging and exercise machines,” he said, adding, “I guess I’m like a dog — I love chasing after the disk.”
Brian Young treks from Reston, VA to make the Saturday game. “We have a great core group who are not overly competitive or critical, but who make the game fun. I make the trip from Reston because of the people I play with here in Hyattsville,” Young said.
Fellowship is what has made this informal group a tradition for over a decade. What Riggs has found most valuable in his time as organizer is “the relationships with the many wonderful people who have come to play over the years.”