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Seattle’s Professional Ultimate Frisbee Games Are the Perfect Family Outing

Affordable ticket prices, free kids' clinics and nonstop action will turn you into a superfan

Author Kari Hanson

Published on: March 15, 2024

Seattle Ultimate Frisbee professional players the Tempest affordable family sports outing
Seattle Ultimate Frisbee Tempest player in action. Photo credit: Jonny Red @j.red_photography

As my kids have grown, I've realized it can be tricky to find an activity that everyone in the family still enjoys (or is at least willing to endure). But sports is one thing that has always kept my family entertained. In Seattle we are lucky to have lots of great professional sports teams to cheer on. However, a family of four practically needs to take out a loan to enjoy and afternoon of family togetherness. Between tickets, parking and a few snacks you can easily spend hundreds of dollars at a professional sporting event.

But never fear! An affordable, fast-paced professional sport exists in Seattle. Welcome to the world of Ultimate Frisbee.

While Ultimate has been around for decades, it has risen in popularity in recent years. Seattle’s professional men’s team the Cascades, first competed in 2015, and added a womxn’s roster in 2018 (they use the term “womxn” to be inclusive of all womxn and non-binary people). That team started playing as the Tempest in 2020. Ultimate teams are now found at schools across Seattle, and it has become the third most popular organized youth sport in King County.

There is even a film about ultimate frisbee screening (in theaters and online) in May at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). 

"Kids playing Seattle Ultimate Frisbee reaching for the disc"
Kids playing Ultimate Frisbee in Seattle. Photo credit: Luis Torres Photography

Spirit of the Game

What makes Ultimate truly special, and a big reason why I am excited that my son has gotten involved, is the focus on the Spirt of the Game, a tradition of sportspersonship that places the responsibility of fair play on the players rather than referees. In fact, there are no referees at any level of play in Ultimate; players are responsible for making their own calls and solving on-field questions or conflicts. This requires intentional teamwork, communication, respect for opponents and cooperation — all the things I hope team sports will help my kids learn!

After a youth game the players will often gather in a Spirit circle where they take turns calling out players from the other team and recognizing their skills and positive attitude. It's a magical thing to watch and something I've never found in any other organized team sport. 

"Seattle Ultimate Frisbeen player on the Cascades team"
No referees here. Seattle Ultimate Frisbee Cascades players are responsible for making calls and solving conflicts. Photo credit: Jonny Red @j.red_photography

While Ultimate games don't have referees, they do have Observers on the field. Unlike referees, Observers do not make active foul calls, but are there to resolve disputes (if requested by the players). They also can make some objective calls such as time violation or boundary decisions.

When my kids watch a professional Ultimate game, they witness high-level athletes demonstrate the Spirit of the Game. No one is yelling at a referee or getting into fights; it is an incredibly positive environment where problems and disagreements are worked out by the players.

Affordable family fun

Watching Seattle’s professional Ultimate teams the Tempest and the Cascades play at Memorial Stadium is pretty much my idea of the perfect family activity. 

Before each home game there is a free pregame youth clinic (preregistration is required). The clinics are for kids in grades 3–12 and are taught by Tempest and Cascade players. As if that wasn’t enough, kids who attend the clinic can stick around and watch the game for free. Adults are required to purchase a ticket online ($16).

Can’t make it to the clinic? Tickets for kids ages 10–18 years old are just $5, and kids younger than 10 are free. You simply cannot beat that. Pro tip: I checked my kids into the pregame clinic, then headed to one of the many nearby places to grab a snack and a drink with my partner. We got a little mini-date during our family outing. Everyone wins!  

"Seattle Ultimate Frisbee player on the Tempest team gives high fives to the crowd"
Seattle Ultimate Frisbee player for the Tempest gives high fives to the crowd. Photo credit: Jonny Red @j.red_photography

Ultimate games are about 1.5 hours long and we find that the action is quick and constant. The crowd is usually small enough that my kids can move around the bleachers and run to get snacks without much concern. My youngest son is not one to sit still more for than a few minutes, so this set up works really well for him (and me!). 

After the game is over, we often take advantage of our proximity to Seattle Center. It's a quick walk to the Seattle Children's Museum, the International Fountain, or the Armory Food and Event Hall, or one of the many restaurants in the nearby lower Queen Anne neighborhood. 

"Kids lean the basics of Seattle Ultimate Frisbee at a pre-game clinic"
Kids practicing the basics of Ultimate Frisbee at a Seattle pre-game clinic. Photo credit: Luis Torres Photography

Seattle Ultimate Frisbee 101

If you've never watched an ultimate frisbee game and are worried about knowing the rules, don't worry, the basics are pretty straightforward. 

According to DiscNW (a local nonprofit that organizes recreational youth and adult Ultimate teams, camps and tournaments) Ultimate “combines the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football,” making it engaging and fun to watch and play. The basics of the game are as follows: two teams throw the Frisbee (called the disc) to their teammates, trying to move it down the field and score in the end zone. When someone catches the disc they have to stop running and have until the count of 10 to throw it to a teammate. If someone drops the disc or a pass is not caught, possession changes and now the other team is moving the disc toward the end zone. There are more rules, but that's the basic gist.

Feeling inspired? Find a team!

"Seattle Ultimate Frisbee player getting ready to throw the disc"
Dora McCotter-Hulett played middle- and high-school ultimate frisbee in Seattle and now plays for Stanford Superfly. Photo credit: Randy Hulett

Lots of Seattle-area schools (elementary through high school) have teams, most of which are organized through DiscNW. In addition to school-based teams, there are also lots of clinics and camps where kids can spend all day tossing the disc around. Seattle Ultimate also offers camps and clinics, and Seven Hills Ultimate Club provides youth Ultimate players throughout Seattle an opportunity to train and grow alongside teammates from diverse schools, neighborhoods and experiences.

There are adult teams, too; kids don’t get to have all the fun! Whether you have been playing for years or just picked up a disc for the first time, there’s a team for you.

Ultimate Frisbee is the fun, inclusive, fast-paced, positive sport that you will love getting to know this spring and summer. Get ready to become a Cascades and Tempest superfan!

If you go …

Where: The Cascades and Tempest play home games at Memorial Stadium, located at 401 Fifth Ave North in Seattle

When: The Tempest season starts March 23 and the Cascades start in April. See the schedule and purchase tickets online.

Cost: Tickets to a single game are $16 for adults (18 and older); $5 for youth ages 11–17; youth younger than 10 are free. There are many season ticket options, which include bonuses like buddy tickets, drink tickets for adults and a discount on team merchandise.

Parking: Directions and parking information can be found online.

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