Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Maggie Kane Editor-in-Chief
When the inaugural season of professional Ultimate started up last spring, Ben Ayres ’11 and Sam Brennan ’11 hit the field with the Detroit Mechanix.
The team was one of eight participating in the American Ultimate Disc League’s first season.
“It’s just a lot higher level of play; it’s just faster,” said Brennan about the team. “There’s not nearly the amount of turnovers that are in college ultimate.”
The AUDL wants to bring more attention to the sport, and to provide a structure similar to that of other professional sports in terms of consistent rosters and game schedules, said Brent Steepe, owner of the Mechanix and vice president of marketing for the AUDL.
Brennan and Ayres both started playing Ultimate their freshman year at Kalamazoo College and served as captains of the team during their senior year.
Ayres, who now lives in East Lansing, said he heard about the Mechanix on online message boards and through people he knew in the Ultimate community. He passed the information on to Brennan.
“I was just really missing the sport,” Brennan said. “This was kind of a way to start going to practices again.”
Steepe said Ayres and Brennan were two of 25 team members chosen out of a tryout pool of 75.
“Ultimate showcases a tremendous amount of athleticism,” Steepe said. “[Ayres and Brennan] are natural athletes.”
The AUDL, unlike other leagues, uses referees to settle disputes during the game.
“There was a pretty big adjustment period just because, as with anything, it kind of changes from an honor system to seeing what you can get away with a little bit more,” Ayres said.
But referees also provide benefits.
“I like having the refs,” said Brennan. “It’s just one less thing you have to think about.”
Players on the team hail from many Michigan colleges and universities, among them, Western Michigan University and Michigan State. Ayres said he knew many of them from his time playing at K, although they played in a different division.
“That was one of the more fun aspects of it,” Ayres said, “Actually finding out that they’re cool people and they’re nice to be around.”
In the coming season, the Mechanix will play against a larger pool of teams, some of them from places Steepe said are big centers for Ultimate.
“It will be very interesting to see how the Mechanix stack up,” Steepe said, noting that Michigan is not a hot spot for the sport.
“It’s going to be the local boys versus the titans, and we’re very excited,” he added.
Brennan looks forward to the change.
“I think it’ll help the league a lot,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll keep increasing the quality of play too.”
Information about the team can be found online at detmechanix.com.