The Roots of Ultimate

In 2002, the only ones playing Ultimate were a few expat teachers at ISKL in Ampang on Sunday afternoons…along with a local or two. In July that year, a group of American students (related to Past the Edge and Global Sports Partners) brought a few discs on a cultural exchange project at UITM in Terengganu. The students had so much fun that one of them, Bob, asked Douglas Ladner of GSP “Uncle, when you go back to KL can you send us a few discs? We have a group of orphans coming at the end of the month and we want to teach them to play.” The only discs that could be sourced locally were the cheap supermarket variety but that was the impetus of Douglas together with a great friend Abul eventually manufacturing Malaysia’s first and only disc, MyDisc under Global Sports Partners.

The Growth of Ultimate

There were several critical elements in the early development of Ultimate in Malaysia. There are many, many gaps but here are a few key contributors (feel free to contact us with corrections or glaring omissions!):

  • MyDisc. Without a decent, affordable local disc, who knows if Ultimate would have ever got off the ground?
  • Clinics for Teachers. GSP-organised Ultimate clinics in Selangor in which more than 100 teachers learned the basics and returned home with ten discs, lesson plans and a resource CD.
  • News Coverage. Periodic Ultimate coverage in the Star Metro caught people’s attention with great photos and recruited people who had played overseas but hadn’t heard of local ultimate.
  • Malaysian Web Presence. Thanks to Jyn, the development of the ultimatemalaysia.com website helped to establish a sense of community and facilitated communication.
  • Tournament Organization. GSP as an organizer of several early tournaments (Does anyone remember the very first tournament at the Bukit Jalil fields in 2004?) – a team effort!
  • UITM Support. En Mustaza Ahmad, Sports Unit Head of UITM Shah Alam welcomed early Ultimate tournaments and also invited GSP to do an Ultimate clinic in a Port Dickson hotel parking lot for the sports unit heads of every UITM branch – one from every state!
  • Higher Level Coaching. Early champions for Ultimate development such as Geoff and Nick of GSP, Kuan, Safwan and Carroll began to provide higher level training…a HUGE contribution.
  • Club Formation. Clubs began forming both among professionals (such as Flying Naan) as well as campus based (such as AUR of UITM Shah Alam).
  • Social Media. FB groups began multiplying with none more important than UltimateKL.
  • Annual tournaments. The Malaysian Ultimate Open (thanks to Kuan and Safwan!), the Penang Hat tournament (thanks to Islanders!) and others cemented Ultimate on the annual calendar.
  • Ministry of Education Support. GSP’s collaborated with En Isa of the Sports Division in 2008 which led to GSP to return to a focus on secondary schools alongside colleges and universities.
  • The Klang Valley Ultimate network began to organise occasional leagues contributing to the continual spawning of development nationwide.
  • National Association. The establishment of the Malaysian Flying Disc Association (MFDA) in 2014 was incredibly important to grassroots development in schools nationwide – “ada persatuan kah?”
  • IOC Recognition. Like the existence of a national association, the official recognition of Flying Disc (aka Ultimate) by the IOC at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur (!) in 2015 further validated Ultimate in the grassroots.
  • Satu Murid, Satu Sukan (“One Student, One Sport).” GSP partnered with the Ministry of Education in 2015 to bring Ultimate to a selected district in every state.
  • Recognition by the WFDF. The recognition of the MFDA by the Worldwide Flying Disc Association in 2015 gave increased standing to Ultimate in the eyes of governing bodies.
  • Ultimate in the Syllabus. Ultimate found its way into the Ministry of Education syllabus for Form One students in 2017 thus paving the way for greater ease of introducing Ultimate in schools.
  • U24 WFDF Tournament in Perth. Malaysia was represented for the first time in a WFDF competition in Perth in 2018 and did the nation proud with two victories!
  • Interstate School Competition. The JPNK-GSP Kejohanan Ultimate 2018 welcomed representative boys and girls teams from Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak to the first formal interstate competition organized under the Ministry of Education.

Certainly the Spirit of the Game (SOTG) – the heart of the sport – should be ultimately  credited with the incredible growth of the sport. SOTG reminds all players “That while competitive play is encouraged, it is never at the expense ofrespect between players, adherence to the rules or the joy of play.”  Surely the sport of Ultimate is far more than a sport, but is also making a valuable contribution to a stronger sense of commUNITY among all peoples of the nation. The best is yet to come!

THE “FOUNDERS:” JOEL SILVER, BERNARD “BUZZY” HELLRING, AND JOHNATHAN “JONNY” HINES

In the summer of 1968, Joel Silver was introduced to a “frisbee football” type game while participating in an educational enrichment program at the Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Mass. After returning to Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., that fall, he got a motion passed at the student council to introduce Frisbee into the curriculum. Together with his friends Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring and Jonathan “Jonny” Hines, they got other students to play their new game and refined the rules, producing a written “first edition” of the rules for the sport Joel dubbed “Ultimate Frisbee” and naming their group the “Columbia High School Varsity Frisbee Squad” in early 1970.

The three classmates laid the foundation required to permit the transformation of a recreational activity into a sport over the following years. Ultimate today is still played largely according to the rules developed by Joel, Buzzy, and Jonny. Joel Silver is currently an accomplished Hollywood producer, producing dozens of films including the Lethal Weapon series, the first two Die Hard films, and The Matrix series. He is married to Karyn A. Fields, has one son, and currently lives in Burbank, Calif.

Jonny Hines, who founded the Princeton team and played in the first college game ever — the Rutgers-Princeton match-up played before more than 1,000 spectators in 1972, is now an international attorney splitting time between New York and Moscow. He is married to Olga Dyuzheva and has two sons. Tragically, Buzzy Hellring died in an automobile accident while returning to college at Princeton University in the spring of 1971.

 

Ultimate: A Brief History