Field Notes: Play Ultimate Frisbee in the Sun and Sand at Sherwood Beach
Field Notes explores Honolulu’s vast and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: Ultimate Frisbee.
photos: brandon smith
What it is
With the green Ko‘olau Mountains and the blue ocean as a backdrop, Ultimate Frisbee players gather at Sherwood Beach in Waimānalo on Sundays to play in the Hawai‘i Ultimate League Association’s summer beach league. Party music bumps out of a large speaker and people in costumes and flashy swimwear chat across the shoreline.
While HULA also runs a fall and spring league, summer beach league is the most relaxed season. However, do not be mistaken, the competition is still stiff. “I love Beach because the sand is very forgiving, so we can do a lot of things with our bodies that we don’t normally get to do,” says Rachel Lindsey, president of HULA.
Although HULA mainly targets young professionals in their mid-20s to mid-30s, the summer league attracts people of all ages, from high schoolers to retirees.
The skill levels span from novice to advanced, but the people who play all year-round try to disperse themselves throughout the teams to make sure the games are fair. You’ll find players in various professions, from military personnel to architects to athletic trainers. “I was the athletic trainer that worked the tournaments for five years,” says Lindsey. “I was on the sideline taping everyone’s ankles, attending to everyone’s injuries.”
How it works
Players of any level can register individually or as a group of six. The groups that sign up will draft onto their teams the players who signed up individually. It costs $30 per person to register.
All teams play twice on Sunday. Everyone wants to win, but sportsmanship or “the spirit of the game” is most important, says Drew Oyama, who began playing Ultimate Frisbee in high school. “We’re all out playing our hardest and we want to have a fair game.”
When the rules are broken, instead of a referee declaring who is at fault, the players on the opposing team will talk it out. This is true even at the professional level. Between games, opposing teams will often play ice-breaker games with each other, making it difficult to be disappointed with a loss. “I love that we get to hang out and play other beach games and barbecue after,” Lindsey says.
Ocean—if the disc touches the water, anyone who swims to it first gets the disc.
Sand—it’s a good cushion for players who bid or jump for the disc, but difficult to run on.
Win two points—if teammates of the opposite gender complete a pass from behind one end zone into another.
Upside-down pull—because the field is smaller on the beach, the first throw of the game is upside-down.
Rules of the game
Each team begins in the opposing team’s end zone. The team on defense will pull the disc to the other end of the field. Where the disc lands dictates where the play starts. Players pass the disc to their teammates. However, the person who catches the disc cannot move. One foot must stay on the ground at all times while holding the disc. If the disc touches the ground or the opposing team catches it, the play turns and the team that was on offense is now on defense.
Pull: The first throw to start a new game or point
Water point: When the disc hits the water
Bid: When a player dives for the disc
Flick: Forehand toss
Drew Oyama, 24
med student, team Jus-Disc League, Kailua
“It’s a very welcoming community that’s worldwide with friendly people and it’s a great way to compete.”
Rachel Lindsey, 33
owner of Superhuman Hawai‘i, team Jus-Disc League, Kaimukī
“I was a collegiate field hockey player, so I played team sports my whole life, but, until I found Ultimate Frisbee, I never really understood spirit of the game.”
Don Najita, 47
architect, team Candy Shop, Honolulu
“When I moved back here from the Mainland looking for a Frisbee community, this was it. It’s like a big family.”
Ultimate Frisbee is year-round. Visit hawaiiultimate.com for more information.