- United States
- Bisbee, Arizona.
- Classic Harley and British motorcycle restoration. Advocate for all animals. Animal Rescue.
Ken Westerfield began his Frisbee career in the 1960s, playing with his high school friends on local Michigan beaches and at music festivals. After moving to Toronto in 1970, Ken and his disc partner Jim Kenner played freestyle wherever they went. They always drew attention and achieved some fame performing urban street shows in cities across Canada. In 1972, they proposed their idea of doing Frisbee demonstrations for Irwin Toy (Wham-O Frisbee selling licensee for Canada). Westerfield and Kenner became touring Frisbee professionals, performing demonstrations and introducing Frisbee and disc sports throughout Canada. Westerfield produced and co-produced early Frisbee events and disc sports championships across Canada and the United States. The Jr Frisbee Program (1971-1975), the Canadian Open Frisbee Championships, Toronto (1972-1985), the Vancouver Open Frisbee Championships (1974-1977), BC, the Santa Cruz Flying Disc Classic, Santa Cruz, California (1978), the Labatts World Guts Championships, Toronto (1985) and the World PDGA Disc Golf Championships, Toronto (1987). Ken received the Decade Awards 1970-1975, Voted Best Men’s Player, also is a Hall of Fame inductee in freestyle, disc golf and ultimate. World records and national titles in freestyle, ultimate, disc golf and over-all individual events like distance, accuracy and MTA. Ken invented many freestyle moves and with Jim Kenner, introduced and won the first freestyle competition at the 1974 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships, Toronto, Canada.
The Decade Awards 1970-1975 Best Freestyle Routine:
“Considered the greatest speed-flow game of all time. Ken and Jim put on a clinic to cap off a blistering hot final by all of the teams. They featured a rhythmic and dynamic style with concise catch and throw combinations. These two gentlemen are credited with creating formal disc freestyle competition.”
In 1979, Westerfield retired from competing in disc golf, freestyle and over-all competitions but continued to play ultimate, organize local Toronto disc events and perform in sponsored U.S. and Canadian Frisbee show tours. Ken played on Santa Cruz first ultimate team (Good Times), in the first two years of the Northern California Ultimate Frisbee League (NCUFL 1977-1978). Ken also brought early ultimate play to Canada with demonstrations beginning in 1975 at the Canadian Open Competitions on Toronto Island and started the first ultimate league in Canada called the Toronto Ultimate Club, (1979 and still running, 250 teams and 3500 active members). Ken and his Toronto ultimate team Darkside, won the first Canadian National Ultimate Championships, Ottawa 1987. Westerfield retired completely from all Frisbee and disc sports activities in 1988.
* The 1960’s and early 1970’s playing Frisbee freestyle at outdoor music festivals (including Woodstock) and doing urban street shows in cities across Canada like Toronto and Vancouver.
* 1971, touring Canada as Frisbee Professionals. Contract to tour and promote the Frisbee for Irwin Toy, beginning in 1972.
* The early years of the Canadian Open Championships, meeting other skilled Frisbee players and freestyler’s for the first time.
* 1975, World MTA record.
* 1976, won both Eastern and Western NAS pairs Freestyle titles with John Kirkland.
* 1978, throwing distance with a Wham-O 119-gram Frisbee, 552’ in Boulder, Colorado.
* National Ultimate Championship title, Toronto ultimate team Darkside, Canada, 1987.
* Being able to experience the growth of disc sports at early tournaments.
* U.S. and Canadian Frisbee show tours for American and Canadian companies.
* Traveling on the I.F.A. NAS and WFC competition tour with other players.
* Meeting and friending many Frisbee players on the tournament trail.
Freestyle Open Major Wins:
1974 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships, Toronto, Canada, Open Format 1st place.
1976 Wham-O, (NAS) American Flying Disc Open (AFDO), Rochester, NY, Open Format 1st place.
1976 Wham-O, I.F.A. (NAS) North American Series, Boulder, Co, Open Format 1st place. Considered “a Classic Routine” as reported in Frisbee World, partnered with John Kirkland for a flawless final, with no drops.
1976 Air Ace Open, Rochester, Michigan, Open Format 1st place.
1977 Wham-O, I.F.A. (NAS) North American Series, (HMCU) Ann Arbor, Mi, Open Format 1st place.
1978 Wham-O, I.F.A. (NAS) North American Series, Minneapolis, Minn, Open Format 1st place.
1978 Wham-O, I.F.A. (NAS) North American Series, Dallas, Tx, Open Format 1st place.
Freestyle Open Major Final Appearances:
1975 WFC World Frisbee Championships, California, Open Finals.
1975 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships, Toronto, Open Finals.
1975 Octad, New Jersey, Individual Open Finals.
1975 AFDO, Rochester, NY, National Flying Disc Freestyle for Pairs Open Pairs, Open Finals.
1976 Octad, New Jersey, Open Format Finals.
1977 Irvin, Western National, Irvin, California, Open Format Finals.
1977 Eastern National, Florence, Alabama, Open Format Finals.
1977 Midwest National Overall, DeKalb, Illinois, Open Format Finals.
1977 Western National, Seattle, Washington, Open Format Finals.
1977 Eastern National, AFDO, Rochester, New York, Open Pairs Finals.
1977 Eastern Canadian Overall, Toronto, Open Format Finals.
1978 Wham-O I.F.A. North American Series, Philadelphia, Open Format Finals.
1978 Western National, Boulder, Colorado, Open Pairs Format Finals.
1978 Midwestern National, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Open Pairs Format Finals.
1978 Octad, New Jersey, Open Format Finals.
How I Started
Something to do at the beach with a small group of friends from high school on local beaches in Michigan. I had around a dozen friends, we would ride motorcycles to Cass and Silver Lake Beaches and play Frisbee pretty much the entire day. In our group, Jim Kenner and I were the stand-outs. When I began playing, there was no such thing as “getting good” at playing Frisbee, it wasn’t even considered a sport, it was just a toy you threw for fun. I remember the first day I realized I could control the direction of the throw, the next logical move for me was to try catching it in different ways. Once I got to a certain skill level of this free-form style of throwing and catching and what seemed like endless possibilities, that was it, I knew I was experiencing something that was pretty great.
Before disc sports, playing with a Frisbee, for me, began by just throwing the Frisbee to watch it fly. It never really became more than that. I got good at disc sports because of that one attraction. I enjoyed team wins in ultimate, but other than that, I was never that competitive. I never went out to practice individual skills and events to get better. When it happened, I enjoyed winning, but winning and losing was not the most important part of my Frisbee experience, it was everything else. It was always for the fun of the play, watching the disc fly, organizing events and being around other Frisbee players.
Having grown up in competitive sports, the thing I really liked about freestyle was that it didn’t have to be competitive to be physically challenging and rewarding. Some of my favorite moves and moments happened while living in Canada, playing at night under city streetlights in historic Gastown Vancouver and the downtown side streets of Toronto. In the early 1970s, during the summer months in Toronto, they would close Yonge St to vehicles and this main city street would become a pedestrian walkway. Jim Kenner and I would start freestyling at maybe 50-60 yards apart on a side street just off of Yonge St in between buildings. We would get large crowds of hundreds of people stopping and eventually encircling us while we played. It was probably a combination of our 60s style look and the display of extreme Frisbee play that attracted so much attention. One of our crowd-pleasers would be to throw the Frisbee high enough into the air that the Frisbee would fly above the streetlights and visually disappear from sight. While people would wonder why I would appear to be throwing the Frisbee away or onto the roof of a nearby building, the Frisbee would suddenly reappear again under the streetlights down the street where Jim would do a freestyle catch and the crowd would go crazy. Jim would then repeat the same high curving disappearing throw to me and it would continue to excite the crowd. There was a lot of night magic in those early street shows, reduced nighttime visuals under street lights provided for great street theater.
In 1973, I was watching TV and flipping the Frisbee up in the air. I wasn’t paying much attention, and as I flipped it up in the air; it rolled down my arm. I immediately went out to the street and tried it again, and this time I did a perfect chest roll. After that, I tried to roll the Frisbee down my back and It worked. I was already doing Frisbee shows in Canada, so I quickly worked it into my freestyle routine. In 1975, I introduced chest and back rolls in competition at the AFDO freestyle event in Rochester NY.
Playing freestyle with Jim Kenner through the 1960s, we had no mentors. We wouldn’t see anyone that could play at our level until 1973. I give a lot of credit to my parents, Gene and Margaret. My father, for coaching me in many sports at a young age and my open-minded and supportive mother, who attended my shows and competitions whenever she could.
Competition and touring show partners, Jim Kenner, Mary Kathron, John Kirkland, Tom Monroe, Gail McColl, Krae Van Sickle, John Anthony, Don Hoskins, Bill King, Jim Brown, Jim Palmeri, Dan Roddick, Peter Bloeme, Brian McElwain, Kevin Sparkman, Pat Chartrand, Gary Auerbach, Stuart Godfrey.
Media & Appearances
Show and Frisbee tournament TV, magazine and newspaper articles and interviews.
Company-sponsored U.S. and Canadian touring Frisbee shows, performing with Jim Kenner (1972-1977) and Mary Kathron (1977-1987) for Irwin Toy, (Frisbee distributor in Canada), Adidas (1974-1977), New Balance (1977-1980), Molson Frisbee Team (1974–1977), Marks Work Wearhouse (1977-1979), Goodtimes Professional Frisbee Show (1978-1987) Orange Crush Frisbee Team (1977–78), Air Canada Frisbee Team (1978–1979), Lee Jeans Frisbee Team (1979-1980) and the Labatts Schooner Frisbee Team (1983–1985).
Motorcycles and traveling.
|1982 Eastern Canadian Open : Etobicoke||Open Pairs||Finals||4|
|1978 Wham-O! I.F.A. North American Series : Philadelphia||Open Format||Finals||3|
|1978 Wham-O! I.F.A. North American Series : Santa Barbara||Open Format||Finals||6|
|1975 National Flying Disc Freestyle for Pairs||Open Pairs||Finals||2|
|1975 Octad||Individual Open||Finals||3|