The fields of Feeney Park in Murphys are filled with the sounds of laughter, bare feet sprinting across cut grass and eager shouts of “go deep,” as members of the “Ultimate Frisbee at Feeney” group play pick-up games three days a week.
Between 15 and 20 players show up on average – some come for an excellent cardio workout, others for the love of the game and still others to socialize with a close group of friends providing a sense of community on the field.
The group, which meets Sunday, Monday and Thursday starting at 5 p.m., is open to the public, and players are eager to meet new people and help inexperienced players learn the basics. The use of an LED Frisbee allows games to continue well past sunset.
“If you aren’t great at Frisbee it’s not an issue,” said group founder Chelsae Flores of Murphys who works at Magnolia Café. “We want people to join us and we always want to meet new friends.”
While the basic rules of ultimate Frisbee are followed, the group is casual and far from legalistic when it comes to enforcement.
A close-knit group of friends started playing Frisbee once a week in June. Soon, players wanted more time on the field, and the group started meeting more often.
Word spread and numbers swelled – within the past few weeks the group had a high of 36 players show up on Sunday evening, which consistently draws the biggest turnout.
“Frisbee is such a great sport for everyone that I thought it would be the most appealing to our town and easy to pick up for any new players,” Flores said.
As interest exploded, a facebook group called “Ultimate Frisbee @ Feeney” was created to keep players informed about days, times and special events. That group has more than 100 members, ranging from high school students to people in their 50s.
Anthony Frazier, who is a photographer in Murphys, said he’s excited to see both younger and older people coming out to play.
“Lately, the fact that we get older people is cool,” he said. “It’s not just high school and college age.”
Frazier acts as the informal leader of the facebook group and consistently posts reminders on game days: “Frisbee 5! Feeney...Lower Field ... bring your game faces! :)”
Ultimate evenings on the fields of Feeney are always filled with interesting characters, all there for slightly different reasons.
“You can always count on having a good time,” said Chris Colvard of Murphys, who enjoys meeting new people while playing. “I’ve gotten in much better shape since I started coming here. It’s amazing cardio.”
“I don’t do night runs anymore because of this,” said Nate Frazier, a musician in Murphys. “After high school, you don’t think you’ll get into something so consistent and social.”
Tessa Bunge of Hathaway Pines encourages girls to come out, despite the players being mainly guys. Six girls showed up to play at last Sunday’s game.
“I don’t feel like it’s too intense. I wish I could jump a little higher,” she said with a laugh, “but I think it’s really fun.”
“It’s a good way to do sports, but besides that, it’s like a community group,” said Esau Munoz of Copperopolis. “It’s like my second home.”
Orion Preston Rubicon Swann of San Andreas has been playing ultimate as long as he can remember and is known in Murphys for being scary fast and taking flight to grab high-flying Frisbees.
“When I play Frisbee, I forget about the troubles of the day and get swept up in the joy of playing,” Swann said. “It’s an awesome group of people to play with, and I look forward to it every week.”
Some take it more seriously than others. Raymond Cuneo of San Andreas has earned a reputation as a fierce defender.
“I eat Frisbees,” he said with a smile.
While games can be competitive, there is always strong camaraderie on the field centered around good sportsmanship.
“All are welcome!” Flores enthused. “If anyone is interested please just show up and you will be welcomed with open arms and a Frisbee pass.”
Ultimate players are seeking community help in finding a good way to light the field at night to keep players safe and allow the group to continue playing throughout the winter and spring.
To find out more about Ultimate Frisbee at Feeney or to contact group leaders, visit their facebook page.