Hanalei’s Ultimate Field Of Dreams

Players greet each other at the start of a recent game of Ultimate Frisbee at Hanalei. David Simon photos

The first time I became familiar with Ultimate Frisbee was in the movie PCU, which came out in 1994 and featured a young Jeremy Piven as a college student a bit beyond the four-year plan. Amazingly, it seems Piven’s hair is much thicker now than it was 17 years ago. That seems to happen in Hollywood must be something in the water.

Some of the students in the movie played a game of Ultimate, which has become a staple for college-themed cinema. I went through my college career without stumbling into a single game, but that’s probably just as well. It has now allowed me to play for the first time in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.

Every Sunday evening, the soccer fields of Hanalei, in the shadows of Namolokama, become home to an Ultimate Frisbee game that has grown thanks to word of mouth and some curious passersby.

The first time I went to play, we managed just a three-on-three game, which didn’t last very long.

Aaron Feinberg gets off a pass as David Tamayo applies defensive pressure

I played a few more times, but since my pickup basketball game is also Sunday nights, my knees began forcing me to choose between the hardwood and the grass. For a while I opted for the gym, but I made my way back to Hanalei to find the game has now expanded to a steady group of regulars who are still inviting anyone of all skill levels.

“Within the last year, we now have three games a week all over the island,” says Aaron Feinberg, one of the mainstays. “We needed a game up here on the North Shore, so Mark Olson, myself and a few others started playing here every Sunday.”

The other two weekly games occur Wednesdays in Koloa and Thursdays at Lydgate Park in Lihu’e. Hanalei’s game has seen upward of 20 players take the field in recent weeks. Visit kauaiultimate.com for additional information.

“It’s actually very welcoming as a woman to come and play,” says Sean Tesla of Anahola. “That was my biggest concern: ‘How’s it going to be playing with a bunch of guys?’ But other girls show up and even if they don’t, the guys are very welcoming. I don’t feel like an outcast.”

Although the accuracy of the score tends to dissipate as the game moves along, helpful tips and strategy are dished out from the vets to novices like myself throughout the evening. If I can just get one of them to teach me how to throw forehand, I might be a more consistent no-show at my basketball game.

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