Frisbee freestyle by Claudio Cigna—the variety of catches is unbelievable

I met Gerry Lynas 35 years ago, and have always respected his creativity. But I never appreciated until now how much he contributed to the sport, games, tournaments and graphics involving the flying disc…which most of us call a Frisbee. So here is the second of a three part series (in Gerry’s own words) about his significant influence to this sport and recreation for millions of us. You can also see his video and two by others at this earlier post .

In my twenties I was more enthusiastic about competition, and thanks to a few loyal friends and a few willing players, I organized and ran three major disc tournaments in the 70’s and 80’s in New York City starting with the Big Apple Jam in June, 1976, in conjunction with the IFA. It was held at the World’s Fair Grounds in Queens and featured five events: Distance, Accuracy, MTA (Maximum Time Aloft), Freestyle Pairs and TRC. (Throw-Run-and-Catch is one of the hardest disciplines in the disc world. If you drop the disc, no score. If you catch (with one hand) your own throw farther than any other player, you win. It’s amazing. I think the record is more than 100 meters, but I’m not sure.) Kerry Kollmar was the reigning World Individual Freestyle Champion. The event was moderately successful, attracting 96 players from Canada and the US. Irv Kalb (Dr. I) took the overall NYFDI trophy, possibly the very first flying disc statuary.

Gerry (standing/right) with friends at Madison Square Garden disc demonstration—1976

Soon thereafter, a group of us did a halftime demonstration at a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. I wanted to do a radical element with charged (glowing) Moonlighters in a darkened arena, but we were not permitted to turn off the lights. I opened the routine with a lucky, full court basket. The rest was pretty lame with a few drops. We weren’t ready for prime time.

The second tournament I organized with the IFA was the Eastern National Frisbee Festival we called “Discover New York” in 1977.

As tournaments became more sophisticated, judging (especially Freestyle) became more complicated. Finding willing and qualified judges who were not competing was difficult and judging was still far too subjective.

dogs easily get into the flying disc act

Word spread after The Circular was passed around that I was an artist and graphic designer, so some of the players who had disc interests of their own began to ask me to design their logos and promotional materials.

Within a few years I had designed logos for Krae Van Sickle’s Disc Dance. Krae was the most balletic and creative jammer I had ever seen. He and Jeff Felberbaum rehearsed and polished complex routines to music for events at schools, clubs, resorts, parties, etc.

I created the first logo for the World Flying Disc Federation and was encouraged by the growing use of the generic term “flying disc,” which I had been using in the interest of fairness to other potential disc suppliers since my first Pluto Platter sailed through the air.

As freestyle (probably my favorite discipline) grew more popular, it was inevitable that there would be an association. Freestyling was getting hotter and judging was slowly improving, but needed a manual for competitors to grasp the subtleties.

When I was running tournaments I created freestyle judging score sheets with required tricks and such, but freestyle was so new that it was pretty subjective in those days. Players were required to do certain tricks, use both clockwise and counter spins, etc. They were also judged on grace, creativity, and good use of music. Mistakes and drops were recorded as deductions…just like freestyle floor gymnastics with a disc. Much of what we did in the early years contributed to the manual in a more general sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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