Pictured: Ring of Fire 2012 Team; courtesy Ring of Fire
RALEIGH – One sport is adding to the intense athletic culture here in the Triangle. This weekend, the best teams from across the United States and the world will meet in Raleigh for the US Open Ultimate Frisbee Championship. North Carolina’s premiere ultimate club, Ring of Fire, is the hometown favorite.
Competition kicks off on the Fourth of July at WRAL Soccer Center. The top four teams from across the United States were invited to compete, as well as teams from South America, Japan, Canada and Denmark. ESPN3 will broadcast all of the semifinal and final rounds live.
UNC graduate student Dennis Tarasi is one of the 29 athletes on Ring of Fire.
“With it being at home, it just means that we have a fuller roster and that much more support, adrenaline, and excitement going into it. I think our chances are pretty good. I think there are a lot of opportunities for us to show what we can do against some of the best teams in the world,” Tarasi said.
Recent UNC graduate Tristan Green says about eight players from Chapel Hill are a part of Ring of Fire, but explains that athletes from across North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina also compete on the team. Founded in 1989, Ring of Fire is one of the oldest club ultimate teams in the world with a long-standing tradition of success on the national scene.
“Growing up here, I’ve always looked up to Ring of Fire since they are the top team around here. Now getting the chance to play with them and also getting to play with them in the biggest tournament that North Carolina has seen is really exciting,” Green said.
Green said Ring of Fire had their highest showing last year, finishing in third place in the USA Ultimate National Championship. He hopes to build on that success and make a deep run in the US Open.
“It’s really exciting to not only be playing with the top competition in the United States but also the top international teams. It’s going to be a lot of fun playing people from a completely different background but all having that common bond of ultimate Frisbee,” Green said.
Tarasi explained this is an exciting time for the sport of ultimate frisbee. It was recently added the list of 50 sports for consideration to be included in the Olympic Games.
“There are a lot of opportunities now for people to be out there playing right now. But more importantly, people are seeing ultimate in a new capacity because ultimate was never really on ESPN. Now that people can stream games, see highlights on YouTube channels and things like that, it has really gained a lot of popularity with the younger technological generation,” Tarasi said.
The US Open competition will also feature the top women’s and mixed teams from across the county and internationally.
For a full schedule, click here.