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ROK Ultimate gears up for spring season

ROK Ultimate is seeking new and experienced players for its 10th season.

The Frisbee-based sport has grown consistently since the co-ed league was set up five years ago, attracting old hands and newbies, including an increasing number of Korean players.

“There’s something very special about this sport and people seem to see it right away,” said Andy Wind, who will become the league‘s general manager, while Chris Pyles is taking over this year as league commissioner from ROK-U founder Marty Nedjelski.

“Without referees to trick into thinking you were fouled, the sport relies entirely on an honor system that we refer to as the spirit of the game. This idea creates an atmosphere of unrivaled sportsmanship and camaraderie on and off the field.”

The ROK-U covers the entire country except Seoul, which has its own league, Seoul Ultimate.

Independently from these, the Korea Ultimate Players Association acts as the national governing body for the sport as Korea's only member of the World Flying Disc Associaiton.

It has teams in a dozen different cities, which are put together according to where players are based, Wind said.

“We open registration to everyone and then make teams as even as possible,” he said. “Last season we had 20 teams and the average scores were closer than ever. We will continue to work in that direction.”

During the regular season, teams then play opponents from all over the country to determine their regular season standings.

The teams will then meet for the playoff finals in Daejeon to compete for the “Hammy” trophy.

According to Wind, the league has grown about 20 percent each year. He is hoping for about 350 participants this season.

“The number of new players and growth of the league season after season -- despite so many transient travelers and teachers being the make-up of the league -- is a testament to how powerful and attractive the spirit of the game really is,” said Wind.

Wind said that there was also a stronger emphasis on developing Korean players than before.

“Most of these foreigners will come and go every couple of years so the Korean players are truly the future of the sport,” he said.

Wind said the biggest challenge the league faced was finding playing space, as some fields refuse to host games other than soccer, and riversides have been refurbished, covering grassy areas with paths and other facilities.

Despite this, there are plenty of opportunities to play Ultimate, not just in league games but in pick-up games, day tournaments, skills workshops and an all-Asia tournament to be held at Gangchanghak Practice Stadium near Jeju World Cup Stadium.

“You could pretty much find something Ultimate-related to do from March to November every year,” he said. “Although most of us opt for a weekend off here and there; there are many who pride themselves in never missing a weekend.”

One event he said he was particularly looking forward to was KUPA’s planned skills clinic with RiseUp Ultimate, a coaching team based in the United States.

For the main league, sign up fees are 65,000 won, or 45,000 won for students, and include the cost of a jersey.

For more information and sign-up links, visit the Republic of Korea Ultimate Facebook page.