Robin Meyers is on the cutting edge of professional sports.
The Delmar native – along with fellow Bethlehem Central High School graduate Seth Reinhardt – is part of the Boston Whitecaps, one of eight ultimate frisbee teams playing in Major League Ultimate’s inaugural season.
That’s right. Frisbee has become a professional sport.
“The organizers felt that the time has come for ultimate frisbee because it has grown so much,” said Meyers.
Meyers and Reinhardt are both defenders for the Whitecaps, who won the Eastern Conference regular season title with a 10-0 record. But, Meyers said his position title doesn’t mean he has to remain a defender.
“What I find attractive about the sport is that everyone is responsible for playing offense and defense,” said Meyers, who has scored five goals and dished out eight assists while also forcing three throwaways and three drops. “As soon as you force a turnover, you’re on offense.”
Meyers’ love of ultimate frisbee began after graduating from BCHS in 2006. He joined the Dartmouth club as a freshman, and he hasn’t stopped playing since.
“It’s been pretty much a year-round activity for me,” said Meyers.
Once he graduated from Dartmouth, Meyers moved to Boston and joined the Boston Ironsides, one of the top amateur ultimate clubs in the country. Then when the Whitecaps came along, he jumped at the chance to play for them.
“It’s a major commitment for me outside of my job, but the return on investment is great,” said Meyers. “Between the two of them, it comes out to about 10 hours a week of (team-sponsored) practice time. We also have weightlifting sessions and running on a track. And, you’re also expected to do some training on your own. So between what I do with the teams and on my own, I probably spend about 20 hours a week practicing.”
Meyers said the way the Whitecaps season is laid out is different from the Ironsides’ season. While the Ironsides travel to weekend tournaments across the country from the latter half of the summer through the fall, the Whitecaps face one team per week.
“At a tournament, you find yourself wearing down towards the end of it because you’ve played so many games,” said Meyers. “In this league, you feel like you’re playing at your peak for longer in the competition because it’s only one game.”
The way games are played is different in Major League Ultimate. Games are split into four 15-minute periods, and there are referees on the field to make foul calls – a significant difference from the player-regulated tournaments.
“This way, they do move the games along,” said Meyers.
Meyers said having referees making foul calls was initially seen as controversial in the ultimate frisbee community, and he is concerned that players might take advantage of their presence by deliberately falling to the ground to get a foul call. He added that he hasn’t seen that happen in a Major League Ultimate game so far.
“The principle of ultimate is sportsmanship, and that hasn’t changed,” said Meyers.
The crowds at Major League Ultimate games have been small, but Meyers said he believes they will grow.
“We feel once people see it, they’ll come back because it’s fun to watch,” said Meyers. “You get people leaping all over the place (trying to catch the disc).”
The Whitecaps began their postseason run Saturday when they hosted Washington in the semifinals. A victory would place Meyers, Reinhardt and their Boston teammates in the Major League Ultimate finals July 13 at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field.
Associate editor/sports editor