Frisbee enthusiasts mark Global Guts Day

CALUMET – As they will be for much of the summer, the players were out at Haralson Field in Calumet Saturday, hurling frisbees and trash talk at each other.

But it’s far from exclusionary. In fact, the Guts Frisbee enthusiasts are such adherents to the sport they’re looking to spread it to as many cultures and as many places across the globe as possible.

Saturday’s event was just one of many held Saturday for Global Guts Day. Others were held in places such as Taiwan, Japan and Finland.

“Global Guts is because we want to spread Guts Frisbee outside of the original area of the Copper Country, where it started,” said USA Guts board member Dave Brown, who came up from the Chicago area.

Calumet’s field had a radar gun set up for the high school Top Gun competition for fastest high-school throwers. The top mark went to Lake Linden-Hubbell High School freshman Stephen Dudenas, who hit 63 miles per hour.

Young players could also come and learn more about Guts Frisbee from the veterans. Saturday’s players included Guts players with decades of experience, as well as Michigan Technological University students.

“There’s a good mix of young and old,” said Dennis Walikainen, also a USA Guts Board member and curator of the Guts Hall of Fame in Calumet.

Walikainen said they’re also looking for more players for the 57th International Frisbee Tournament, held July 5-6 in Calumet.

He said anyone interested in Guts who can’t afford the entrance fee, “won’t have to pay a dime.” Anyone who’s interested is also assured of getting on a team for the tournament, he said.

Guts is so named for the fortitude required to stand as a plastic disc is whipped at high speed from 14 meters away. It requires split-second reflexes at the highest speeds – to date, 88 miles per hour, by a player from Japan. That beat a record set two weeks prior by a player from Appleton, Wis.

To score, players must throw the disc at the other team so that it’s the right side up, within reach, but still can’t be caught with a single hand. They get a point if it hits the ground or if more than one body part touches it simultaneously. If the disc isn’t right-side up, or is too high, low or wide, the receiving team gets the point. If the receiving team catches it – either with a clean catch, or as is more common, a multi-player scrum of hot potato – no points are scored.

“If you can catch them, then they can’t score,” Brown said. “You try to hit the weakest person, who you know you can catch the majority of the time.”

Teams play to 21, and must win the game by at least 2 points.

Brown first got into the sport in 1976, when he was a student at Northern Michigan University.

“I play a lot of different frisbee sports, but Guts is one of the few where you play both offense and defense,” he said.

One way or another, the sport had gotten under everybody’s skin. And Saturday was the first chance for a proper outside practice. The culprit was still leaving its mark; as players grappled for another sharply thrown disc, a small snowpack was skulking away into oblivion behind them.

It was just the first of many games for the summer.

“They always know you’ll be here Wednesday night, and Saturday at 1,” Walikainen said. “This is the spot, and everybody knows it.”