MEDFORD, Ore. — Tim Kiesling is a senior at Ashland High School. Tim and a couple of schoolmates are working to organize an ultimate frisbee club team, but in the meantime, Tim gets his ultimate fix with SOUPA, the Southern Oregon Ultimate Players’ Association.
“There’s a lot of really serious players who have played on national teams or coached national teams,” Kiesling said, “I mean the weather’s beautiful here in Southern Oregon so it’s almost always a good day to play.”
Kiesling started playing with SOUPA a few weeks ago, but with limited experience, he needed to study up on the game before playing with the more experienced players.
“I had been watching a lot of ultimate on YouTube, like professional games, so I already kind of knew what was going on,” Kiesling said, “but definitely the first game was a lot of learning.”
SOUPA offers a great chance to learn. The organization’s roots go back more than a decade. Jim Casetllano and some of his friends started playing a loose game in the early 2000′s. There was no official equipment, but that laid back game eventually took on a more competitive tone.
“Everybody kind of reminisces about when they bought their first pair of cleats just to play ultimate and how we were getting pretty serious.” Castellano said.
So Castellano and his friends joined with a group from Ashland to form SOUPA and now the seriousness of the sport is reaching new levels.
“We try to come out every Sunday,” Kellen Akiyama said. “There’s a game on Wednesdays, and we are competitive and we all know each other for the most part.”
“Everybody has a story about how they got into it, whether it was college, whether you were with friends at a park, or there was just a group of people that saw you doing something athletic and recruited you,” Castellano said.
“Somebody can find their niche or their place here in ultimate,” Akiyama said. “As long as they’re having fun and having success on the field, then they’ll stay and they’ll be a part of our community for a long time.”
One thing that brings the group together is a passion for the frisbee.
“I’m definitely always looking forward to it,” Kiesling said. “I mean, I’ll cancel plans on Saturday night if I think they’re going to go too late because I’ve got to be rested up and ready to go for ultimate on Sunday.”
“Part of what makes ultimate so beautiful is watching the disc fly,” Castellano said. “When somebody’s got a really good flick or a really good backhand and they let one rip, just watching that thing sail and somebody run it down, it’s beautiful.”
For more information on the Southern Oregon Ultimate Players’ Association, go to www.soupa.org