I first saw freestyle at University of Sonoma during Indian Summer 1977. Six weeks later, I was center delaying self-thrown counterspin, thus beginning an affair with freestyle Frisbee.
My love of freestyle has been non-stop since I first saw it. My buddy Dan and I came home from that first indian Summer tournament and practiced self-sets in our living rooms, measuring the increasing time that we could hold a center delay. Finally we went to the park to actually see if we could receive and delay a throw from each other. It seemed we’d been doing counter self-sets, but were throwing backhands at the park. It didn’t take long to realize that we had to use the forehand throw favored by Ultimate players.
I talked Dan into partnering at the next Indian Summer tournament. Strong winds, unfamiliar to us, destroyed us and we finished dead last, but it took courage to even go out there. I started playing a lot more than Dan. In 1981 a job assignment took me to Texas, where I started jammin’ on the weekends with Bob Coleman and played in a couple of Austin tournaments.
So here I was, a man in his 30’s already, competing with these hot young talented kids in their teens. I felt way behind and outclassed by their agility and skills. I decided to target playing in the Masters Overall tournaments, where I could compete with players more my age. At my first national tournament in St. Louis, I played with Ron King and “Duster” Don Hoffman, finishing in second to John David and Wally Free. Later that year at the 1982 World Disc tournament in Santa Cruz, I took 1st place in Masters Freestyle.
When I returned to California from Texas, I started playing in Carmel with Joe Messner and a couple of teenagers named Tony Grissom and Dave Murphy. Joe and I claimed the Masters freestyle title at San Diego in 1983 and we repeated again in 1986 at St. Paul. MN.
I have played in tournaments every year since. I’ve played in thirty-plus Masters/Overall Tournaments, doing all the events. In 1991, I was the Tournament Director for the World Masters Overall held in Santa Cruz. I cherish the times and partners I’ve had over the years at these tourneys. These days, I especially enjoy the FPA Worlds tournaments, because it’s non-stop, hot freestyle for three-four days.
I nabbed four more freestyle titles in the Grand Master division (1992, 1993, 1996 and 1999) partnering with Don Hoffman, Joe Messner, Steve Scannell and Steve Hanes-Mike Esterbrook.
Protected overall age division are ten year ranges. Harvey Brandt became famous by winning the discathon event every year for the ten years he was a Grand Master. I set a secret goal for myself to try to win the Overall Freestyle event every year as a Senior Grand Master.
After turning 55, I scored ten consecutive freestyle wins in the Senior Grandmaster division at WFDF and U.S. Open Overall tournaments, playing with five different partners. The fourth freestyle title in the Senior Grand Master division was in San Diego in the Summer of 2005, 22 years after my first win there. The tenth SGM freestyle title was in Fort Collins in 2011. My career highlight has to be the 2008 US Open Overall Freestyle championship with Steve Scannell in Reading, PA.
After joining the Legend category and winning Overall Freestyle for two years to continue my consecutive streak, the defined age brackets were all bumped up by five years, “demoting” me back in the Senior Grandmaster division again. This enabled me to win an “impossible” eleventh SGM freestyle title, with Rick Williams. Finally at age 70, I entered the Legend division again.
I was part of the staff for all of Tita Ugalde’s Jam Camps in Pasadena.
My newest contribution to freestyle is teaming up with Jacob Gauthier as part of his live-stream team. I’ve been part of his team at Karlsruhe, New York City, Portland, Austin, Udine and future cities where our paths cross. In 2015, I received an Aloha award for my work at Karlsruhe helping with the live-streaming. This seems to be a way I can contribute to the sport of freestyle as I get older.
In addition to Freestyle and Overall disc sports, I enjoy Disc Golf and DDC. At the close of 2017, I was ranked in the top 100 players in both Freestyle and DDC. I’ve been president of the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club, since its inception in 1998. I’ve sponsored a hole/basket at a half dozen disc golf courses installed in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Golden Gate Park, hole one. I’m an Eagle Club member at the PDGA. I’ve help put on freestyle clinics with the Bay Area Disc Association.
I’ve accumulated a large disc collection from many tournaments over the years. My collection features many Wham-O discs of the early 80 & 81 mold families, specializing in HDX plastic. I also have a lot of early Skystylers, Floaters, Ultrastars, minis, and of course, golf discs.
Another disc related collection that I have, is 90+ comic strips that mention Frisbee in them.
I appeared with Skippy Jammer and had a speaking part in the Frisbee history movie, “The Invisible String”.
I’m always a platinum member of the FPA.
I like to joke about my success being due to longevity and outlasting my peers. I’ll continue to play as long it’s fun and my legs carry me.
How I Started
My earliest remembrance of tossing a disc was with my Dad in the late 1950’s. I became a more frequent and better thrower while at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh during the late 1960’s. We liked to sail Master discs down a slope in Schenley Park nearby. Three fraternity brothers would take turns throwing all the way to the bottom of the slope, retrieved by the bottom player and relayed back to the top by the third player half-up the hill.
Through the early 70’s, I continued to hone my throwing and catching ability with my friend, Dan Burleson. We played in the streets and parks of East Hartford, Connecticut. The promise of better jobs took both of us to California in 1976 where we continued playing Frisbee in the park.
By now a typical Saturday morning began at 7:30 with a round of disc golf on our new self-designed course at Santa Clara Central Park, followed by some pick-up Ultimate play at 10 AM, then freestyle in the afternoon, all at the same park. In the fall of 1977, we spotted a poster for an Indian Summer Frisbee tournament at the University of Sonoma.
Since we could do that BTB and UTL catch thing, we thought we knew everything about Frisbee tossing. Boy, did we have our eyes opened. This “delay” stuff was unbelievable. It was exciting and beautiful. I was blown away by folks like Laura Engel and g. Rose, along with Corey Basso and Evan David. Everyone at the tournament was so far ahead of me. Man, did I want to learn how to do that “delay” thing. I mustered up the courage and asked Laura to show me how to do it. She made it looks so easy.