Salt Lake Lions brings professional ultimate disc to Utah

Published: Monday, April 7 2014 7:15 p.m. MDT

An ultimate disc player lays out for a catch. Photo from Salt Lake Lions promotional video.

Utah is now home to another professional sports team.

The team: the Salt Lake Lions. The sport: ultimate disc.

Starting April 12 at 7 p.m., the Lions will make their inaugural “pull,” or opening throw, at their home field of Taylorsville High School Stadium. (Frisbee is the common term for disc.)

The Lions are part of the American Ultimate Disc League, a league founded in 2012 by Josh Moore. It is now in its third year and consists of 17 teams nationwide, including a Canadian team.

The coach of the Lions is McCord Larsen, who is also the coach of the Olympus High School Ultimate club team. Larsen has experience playing, teaching and coaching ultimate disc. He played at Utah State for one season and has coached at Sky View and Olympus high schools. He has also taught the sport to people California, New York, Utah, Germany and Mexico.

For those planning on attending matches, Larsen gave a list of players to watch.

“The field vision of captain David Brooks and the defensive prowess of co-captain Doug Stenclik is something worth seeing,” Larsen said. “The speed of Ryan Segal, Kenji Hood and Sohkee Birmingham, mixed with the energy of young players such as Ben Law, Jack Kingsley and Tony Pehrson, make for an exciting game.”

The league features three conferences: the West Conference, the Midwest Conference and the East Conference. The Lions will exclusively play teams from the West Conference in the regular season, with seven games at home and seven games on the road. The West features teams from San Francisco, San Jose, Vancouver and Seattle.

Larsen has high hopes for the squad, even though it’s their first year in the league.

“The benefit of where we are right now is that every team in our division is new,” Larsen said. “So we won't have to play more experienced teams until championship weekend in Toronto. Though some teams boast some of the best players in the country/world, it's still anyone’s game and we have as good of shot at that Western title as any.”

The tryouts were held in Salt Lake City in October 2013, so there are Utah ties on the team. Thirteen of the 23 players on the team are from or attended college in Utah — six attended the University of Utah, two BYU, one UVU and one Southern Utah. The other two attended high school in Utah.

“We feel it's important that in order to build the ultimate scene in Utah we need to keep local players as involved as possible,” Larsen said. “We have developed our own club team to help develop younger/inexperienced players and to help prepare them to play for us in future seasons.”

Tickets are $12 and season tickets start at $72. The games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, starting in April and running through the end of July. The championship game will be on July 27 in Toronto.

In the inaugural season of the AUDL, the Philadelphia Spinners won the championship in the eight-team league. At the end of the season, five of the eight teams either folded or jumped leagues, including the Spinners, leaving only three teams. The league expanded to 12 teams by the start of the 2013 season, however, and has since expanded to 17 teams.

Basic ultimate rules and glossary: (Note that this is not all-comprehensive.)

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