Professional ultimate Frisbee? Jacksonville has one of those
, 2021-11-30 12:09:45,
The long-held stereotype of Ultimate Frisbee often involves counter-culture athletes who can barely hold a club team together.
Anything “professional” had little to do with the sport, which was spawned in the late 1960s and gained traction in the ensuing decades on college campuses as a club game. But things have changed dramatically as evidenced by the American Ultimate Disc League, formed three years ago, now becoming a professional force in the game in Jacksonville.
The game of Ultimate Frisbee is played between teams of seven on a 120-yard-long field with a 70-yard proper playing field and 25-yard end zones. Most of the flying discs are manufactured by a company called Discraft, which is headquartered in Michigan. The rules are similar to basketball, football and soccer. Players pass a disc to each other and a 1-point goal is scored when a pass is completed into the end zone. One goal accounts for one point.
The Jacksonville Cannons joined the AUDL competitively this year as the latest expansion franchise in the league that now has 25 teams. With the first Cannons regular season just completed, they’re moving on to the first round of the playoffs – Saturday in North Carolina against the Raleigh (N.C.) Flyers.
In their last game, July 11 against the Nashville (Tenn.) Nightwatch, the Cannons won 29-27 after four 12-minute quarters. The Cannons were 10-4 on the regular season ending with a six-game winning streak.
While the team’s website bills the franchise as a “professional” Ultimate team, Cannons owner Bill Kilgannon said the organization more resembles a semi-pro operation similar to rugby. Players get paid, but only the league minimum of $50 per season.
But for Kilgannon, who is a general contractor and CEO of ShayCore Enterprises headquartered off St. Johns Bluff Road in Jacksonville, the Cannons represent a startup project in Jacksonville, a city that has been teeming in startup culture in recent years.
“I purchased the franchise about three years ago, and when I purchased the franchise it was still inexpensive,” Kilgannon said, noting he only had to pay $2,500 to the AUDL for the franchise rights.
Kilgannon said the AUDL wanted to specifically expand to Jacksonville because the town has a relatively young demographic. There was also an established Ultimate culture through a University of North Florida club team called Category 5 and multiple recreational leagues run on the UNF campus.
Kilgannon, 30, played the game when he was in college at Bentley…
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