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The Nitro, Portland’s professional ultimate frisbee team, plays its first game

Nearly 2,000 people soaked in the sun for the professional ultimate frisbee debut at Providence Park.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:32 AM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It was a May Day meant to be spent in the park. Nearly 2,000 people soaked in the sun for the professional ultimate frisbee debut at Providence Park with the first-ever game for the Portland Nitro in the American Ultimate Disc League with a battle against Seattle.

“We have some of the best players in the world and in the country on our team and they just go out and play and they put up highlights and it’s really, really cool to see,” said Jake Johnson.

Founded in 2012, The American Ultimate Disc League is taking Portland for a whirl.

“Oregon is packed with talent so we are drawing from there,” said the Portland Head Coach.

“I went to Grant High School and then when I came back to Portland, I started coach Grant High School’s Ultimate thing so that was a lot of fun for me. I saw a lot of my kids coming here and cheering me on, it helps a lot,” said Nitro player, Jon Lee.

The rules are ultimately simple. It’s four 12-minute quarters, a football field in length that’s 53-and-third yards wide. Pull it, catch it, and cash it in the end zone.

“It’s the greatest sport you ever played and sometimes the best sport you’ve never heard of but you are gonna.”

The quick-paced scoring between Portland and Seattle supplied a Cascadian quake for the 15-hundred who rooted on this groundbreaking opener in Stumptown, with PDX prevailing by the score of 29-24.

“Happy to be here. Happy to bring Ultimate to this city. The city is amazing,” said Johnson. “As you can see, we put 29 points on the board and that’s a huge deal. We’ve got a great team and I am really excited to see what we can do this year.”

The flight, the fight, the nitro are boosted as one of 25 AUDL teams in the US and Canada.

“Most Ultimate tournaments you are flying, you are playing far away, we hardly ever play in Portland and so now that there is an AUDL team in Portland we can connect with our community so much more now,” said Lee.

These 7-on-7 semi-pros have full-time 9-to-5 jobs too.

“I am in medical school,” said Leandro Max, a Portland Nitro Player from Franklin High School. When asked how he mixes medical school with being an ultimate frisbee professional athlete, he said “”Just one day at a time. Do my best. Work hard.”

“I was in the Air Force and I played and just got addicted to Ultimate,” said Johnson “I have pretty much made my life about it to be honest. It’s what I do outside of work, I work at Nike as a data analyst and outside of that, all I am doing is Ultimate.”

Working for the weekend and day dreaming of that ultimate goal, the league championship this august is in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Today is really the main indicator that we have been waiting for and today felt great,” said Lee.

“We are building,” said Johnson. “We are on a trajectory, and we are going to be here for a long time.”