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Chuck Cantone grabs a high pass during a Montreal Royal practice. photo by Sebastien Crete
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Connor Maloney of the Washington DC Current Ultimate Frisbee team gives us a rundown of the rules and how a game is played.
Among American sports, Ultimate Frisbee is a babe in the woods. Invented by New Jersey high school students in 1968, the game only established its first semi-professional league in 2012, when the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) formed. The next year came Major League Ultimate.
The sport's game play is simple: Two teams of seven players each face off on a football-like field and attempt to pass a flying disc downfield until someone snags the object in the end zone for a point. This year, two friends who began playing Ultimate as classmates at Henrico County's J.R. Tucker High School — Andrew "Chuck" Cantone and Connor Maloney — signed with pro teams, one in each league. Cantone, 28, who graduated Randolph-Macon College in 2007, played his first game with Montreal Royal, a new franchise in the AUDL, in the team's April 19 season opener.
RM: How did you find the sport of Ultimate?
CC: I was in school with Connor Maloney [now a player with the MLU's Washington, D.C., Current] and saw him and some friends playing one day in 2003 and asked to join.
RM: How is Ultimate different from other sports?
CC: I'd never heard about it growing up, so everything was new. It's the first sport I came across that was self-refereed, to begin with. But it still had elements of the sports I played — basketball and soccer. I was good at Ultimate because it incorporates the same kind of athletic qualities as the other sports.
RM: For whom did you play before the Royal?
CC: I've played Ultimate at every level you can imagine — everything from pickup play to world championships. I've played most notably with the men's team Mephisto, and also I've played with the co-ed team Odyssey — those are the two major teams here in Montreal.
RM: What position do you play?
CC: Ultimate breaks down into two types of positions. Handlers are most comfortable throwing the disc — they are the pure throwers. Cutters are the ones running downfield and trying to go for the long pass or advance the disc downfield. I fall into the category of a cutter.
I have good speed, good hands, so my strengths are running downfield and — everyone likes the long ball, right? — I like to go for the long shot downfield. … My favorite play is the "huck," when a thrower puts it long to a receiver like me in the end zone.
RM: What's it like being in a sport in the infancy of its professional development?
CC: No one really knows where this sport is going to go, so it's really exciting to be a part of it now, when we can have a direct influence on how it will evolve and how it will be perceived. There are maybe one or two people who survive entirely by playing Ultimate, but for most of the guys, this is just a part-time thing. We have careers and lives outside of Ultimate.