Frisbee discs didn't mean much to Dan Bobrowsky while growing up. His first and most memorable experience came as a young child when he would watch his neighbor's dog do tricks with them. That caught his attention.
"The dog was pretty good sometimes," Bobrowsky said with a laugh.
Some friends of Bobrowsky used flying discs to catch his attention in a different way during his high school years. He was recruited into the school's ultimate disc club during his junior year at Wilde Lake. The group quickly fell in love with the sport and began practicing and playing regularly for two years before graduating in June 2005.
Months into their first year of college, Bobrowsky and others heard that Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks was starting a new co-ed Adult Ultimate Disc League - trademark issues prevent the use of the word Frisbee - and they wanted to take part.
Bobrowsky and Danny Scheinerman contacted several of their Wilde Lake ultimate disc buddies this winter and spring and formed a team for the summer league. They had little trouble clicking again and have reached tomorrow's league championship game where they will meet Tenacious Corn at 6:30 p.m. at Huntington Park.
"From playing [together] for several years, we can predict each other's actions," said Bobrowsky, a student at Harvey Mudd College in California. "My friends know where and how far [to go] and when I can throw. It's just something you learn from playing with each other for so long."
Ultimate disc - the players refer to the sport simply as "Ultimate" - has helped build a strong bond between many on this team. When playing at Wilde Lake, they made a habit of relaxing at a nearby 7-Eleven after games. This summer, different team members will get together socially after games at different places depending on schedules.
Scheinerman said that when forming the team, they thought getting together a group of players who were friends would give them a better chance at success.
"When we recruited people, we were looking for people who are good but ... at the same time we are all pretty much good friends," Scheinerman said. "We've seen other teams squabble, and we [don't]. It's an asset, too."
The game resembles a cross between football and soccer. Players run and catch and throw the discs all over the field, with possession going back to the other team at the spot the disc hits the ground. So teams can try to control the game with a number of short passes, much like soccer.
But the long-pass aspect from football often comes into play, especially if a team has speed, as Wilde Lake does. In Thursday's semifinal win over the Individuals, Wilde Lake often used its speed and ability to connect on hucks, the term for what would be a long pass or "bomb" in football. Bobrowsky and others often would sling long hucks that floated 20 to 30 yards ahead of a teammate, seemingly too far to do any damage.
However, Wilde Lake's players often out-ran the defense while the disc sailed downfield and made the catch - either for a score (touchdown) or a long completion that would set up a score. Just as in football, crossing a line gives you a score, but in ultimate, it is worth 1 point.
"It's really fast-paced, and everyone has to be skilled in all the departments," said Scheinerman, who plays on a club team at Brown. "You have to be able to run and play defense and throw. It takes a lot of work, and it's got a very good reputation of being a good team game and good-spirited sport."
Andrea Shaw of Laurel went to Atholton and attends Cornell University where she plays on one of the school's two club teams. When she was asked to be on the Wilde Lake team, it meant competing with men for the first time. The league requires one or two of each team's seven on-field players to be a woman.
"It's definitely different," Shaw said. "The guys tend to throw longer than women. It's funny sometimes because I practice for a couple of years to get my throws to go as long as I do, and you see guys who just started, and they can throw longer than I do."
Bobrowsky, often jokingly called "Bubba" by his teammates, is one of the players that can throw the farthest. Several times, Bobrowsky would easily throw the disc about 70 yards on the "pull" (kickoff) plays. He also made a number of good throws right along the sideline, zipping the disc on a high or low line right over the defender's out-stretched hands to a teammate - skills he practices on his college club team.
Mike Blevins, recreation coordinator for the Department of Recreation and Parks, organized the league. He hoped to start it in the spring but couldn't get enough teams. They moved it to the summer and had five teams that played from early June to this week.
"I wanted to have something different," Blevins said. "It's really big in Washington-area leagues, and I wanted one for the adults here."
Wilde Lake team members are glad he started the league. They have enjoyed success on the field but like it even more because they are with friends.
"We have a good group of kids, and we all trust each other," said Bobak Shirmohammadi, who played on the club team at Wilde Lake and will be starting his sophomore year at Maryland. "We weren't as close before we starting playing ... and it established a lot of trust."
If you want to catch tomorrow's 6:30 p.m. championship game, Huntington Park is at 9695 Clocktower Lane in Kings Contrivance.