HOUGHTON - For the 52nd time, the Julius T. Nachazel Trophy will be up for grabs at Hancock Driving Park this weekend as Guts Frisbee teams compete in the International Frisbee Tournament.
The sport has its roots on the Keweenaw Peninsula but the Nachazel Trophy has not been won by an area team since the Breakers repeated as champions in 1997. The Cupola Bandits, a team based downstate, are the current holders.
Four area entries are slated to compete, including the Breakers, the Monte Carlo, the Coasters and the Red Carpet Baggers.
Bill Gagnon flings the disc for the Breakers during the 2008 International Frisbee Tournament in Hancock. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Ron Blau is both tournament director and a member of the Red Carpet Baggers, a Calumet-based outfit. A veteran of 27 previous IFTs, he said there will be two rules to live by at the Driving Park this weekend.
"The first rule is to have fun and the second rule is to win the Julius T. Nachazel Cup," Blau said.
He said the Guts community is a tightly-knit group and the chance to re-establish old bonds is just as enjoyable as the competition itself.
Guts Frisbee: The basics
Guts Frisbee is a sport played between two teams of one to five players. Teams line up facing each other about 15 yards apart. A player throws the disc in the opposing team's direction with the goal of making a throw within reach of at least one player on the team that cannot be caught cleanly with one hand. The receiving team can tip or bobble the disc to each other to make it easier to catch.
If the disc cannot be caught, the throwing team earns a point. If the disc is caught or the throw is not within range of at least one player, the receiving team earns a point. Play continues until one side reaches 21 points and is ahead by two.
"It's not just about the playing, but it's about the people you see once a year," he said.
The tournament begins this morning at 10 a.m. with round-robin games in two brackets. Teams will advance to a double-elimination knockout round to begin this afternoon and continue into Sunday.
In the knockout round, winner's bracket contests will be best two of three games, while loser's bracket contests will be one-game showdowns.
The tournament will resume at 9 a.m. Sunday with the semifinals beginning at about 3 p.m. and the finals at about 4. There is no admission charge to watch the tournament.
"I think you're going to have to play consistent, not dump the disc or throw outside, up, or low, have a good game plan, play hard, be smart and hope that your team gels well together. It will make a big difference on how your team does," Blau said.
Cupola will be one of the favorites, as well as a mixed team of members from the Boomtown Saints and Ridin' High squads. Wisconsin squads Blame the Dog and Appleton Assassins are also likely to be in the mix.
The Assassins feature several young players, part of what organizers hope is an infusion of young talent into the game. At a recent tournament in Wisconsin, a quarter of the players were first-timers.
The U.S. Guts Players Association requires only a $5 fee for rookies and players under 18, which gives the curious a chance to try the sport without putting too much on the line (except for their hands).
"How great is that to be able to go out there and play. The veteran teams are smart enough to take it easy on them and help them out a little bit," Blau said.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.