Larry “Laerbs” Imperiale began playing Freestyle at Chico State University in 1977 and soon after helped create the ‘Chico Air Heads’ Frisbee club. Larry’s passion and determination served him well. After attending a few tournaments his future greatness started to reveal itself. In 1979 at the Humboldt Harvest tournament he and fellow Airheads Brian White and Jim Terhorst snatched victory from the formidable team of John Kirkland and Jeff Jorgenson. Then in 1980 he was invited to play with Corey Basso and Kevin Givens where they took 3rd in a hotly contested final at the Austin TX NAS meet. Later that year he and Doug Branigan busted seed to win the FPA tour stop in Dearborn, MI. In 1981 he along with Joey Hodoklin and Richie Smits won the 1981 NAS in Philadelphia.
Shortly after that he moved to San Diego where his game started to flourish. And flourish it did. In one of the most brilliant pairings of all time, Bill Wright and Larry played together for the very first time. This was a Dream Team of Counter spin heavy weights. The chemistry was sublime and it resulted in Major victories at the 1983 US Open and the 84 World Disc tournaments. Next he teamed with Joey and his protégé Peter Rosing to win the 1984 FPA Co-op title as well as the 1985 World Indoor title.
Shortly after that Larry had to step away due to injury. It took him 2 ½ years to recover. But when he did, he elevated his game once again. The next step to create another Dream Team, this time with Kevin Givens and John Jewell, a team known as ‘Sideout’. Soon after, Jewell stepped away as the young Tom Leitner took his place. Together this team would go on a legendary run winning 7 Major Co-op titles. After Givens stepped away after the 1994 season Larry re-teamed with Bill Wright along with a new teammate, Randy Silvey. This team would win two Major titles in 1996. And Larry was far from done. He also teamed with Paul Kenny and Toddy Brodeur to win two more Major titles.
But this is just his competitive resume.
As impressive as this is, it is critical to reference Larry’s influence on the new wave of European Freestylers. Larry was the driving force behind the very first Paganello freestyle tournament in 1998. It was there where the seeds of this new wave of growth were planted. He was a critical element in the expansion, growth and meteoric rise of talent through all of Europe. On top of this, Larry has contributed enormous amounts of hours as an FPA Executive Director, Board/Committee Member, a Data Manager and Web Master.
As a collective effort, Larry has contributed to the mission of Freestyle Disc in ways that will never be matched. He will be competing in a record 35th FPA World Championship later this summer. He has mentored innumerous players and helped them craft their games to the championship level. Larry pushed the envelope of the power counter wind game taking it to new unforeseen heights. His tireless efforts and maintaining records, archives and data is unsurpassed. And his ability as a player make him a jammer nonpareil. For all of these reasons we celebrate the induction of Larry Imperiale into the Freestyle Disc Hall of Fame.
How I Started
From FPA HOF: During 1977 at a bucolic campus in Northern California known as Chico State University, a group of students started gathering once a week to throw a disc around. In 1978 they would discover Freestyle play. Shortly after that, instead of playing once a week, they were now playing as many as 6 times a week. After seeing a tournament at Sonoma State, they formed the “Chico Airheads”. This group was feeding off of each other’s creative influence. Eventually one would emerge, rather clumsily at first. Like a big puppy growing into his paws. He had boundless energy and enthusiasm. And he applied himself fearlessly. Slowly the fundamental skills started to fall into place. Then some signature moves. Body roll, Backside Kick Brush, Scarecrow, Flying Gitis. The next step was perfecting those moves. He became graceful, powerful, strong, determined, even obsessed. Then he started to travel. A win here. Another win over there. Multiple wins. Then a Major Title. Then more Major Titles. Now he was a force of nature. Dominating even. Becoming one of the most influential and celebrated Freestylers of all time. Larry Imperiale.