Spinners win American Ultimate Disc League title

Posted: August 19, 2012

The Philadelphia Spinners are the winners.

The ultimate disc team won the ultimate prize - the championship in this inaugural season of the professional American Ultimate Disc League.

The Spinners went 15-2 and won the championship game last Saturday at the Pontiac Silverdome, beating the Indianapolis AlleyCats, 29-22.

"The craziest and most wonderful thing was a discovery of how many fans we had," said Jeff Snader, the team's general manager and coach. "They came from as far as Scranton for our games. They saw our players as role models. It was a huge treat.

"When you start off," he added, "you wonder how do you get fans? What are fans going to be like? But we saw fans were created. They wore jerseys and brought signs to games and were nervous to talk with players. We thought, 'This is cool. This is sports.' It was great to see."

The Spinners played home games at Franklin Field, and drew 1,800 fans opening night last spring, and then about 900 per game after that. Games were Saturday and Sunday afternoons or evenings. Admission was $14 for adults, $7 for children.

Ultimate disc - commonly known as Ultimate Frisbee - has been around for many years, but this was the debut season for the eight-team American Ultimate Disc League. A few of the more colorful names: Buffalo Hunters, Detroit Mechanix, and Bluegrass Revolution.

"The league was on SportsCenter's top 10 plays five times during the season," said Snader. "One of our videos went viral on YouTube with 1.3 million hits."

It is a fabulous sequence - in which a Spinners defender gets beat on a play - and a Connecticut Constitution player chases down a seemingly uncatchable disc, lays out for it, and lands in the end zone for a score (Web link: philly.com/spinners.)

The AUDL will definitely be back for a second season in the spring, Snader said.

It was "not a profitable season as a business start-up," he said, "but it was sustainable. We saw this was something we can do over and over and shows a lot of promise to be profitable."

The Spinners, like their coach, have other careers. There's one doctor, lawyers, engineers, a few students. They didn't get paid this season, Snader said, but "they got a lot of perks. Everything was paid for: food, drinks, jerseys, travel, everything. And they have profit sharing, though there wasn't much profit."

He emphasized: "Their normal experience [on club teams] is paying to play, so this was a big step up."

Snader said two stars emerged on the Spinners roster: Jake Rainwater, 23, on offense, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who seemed unstoppable and appeared to score at will; and defender Sean Murray, 29, who has great speed and leaping ability, and became a fan favorite.

"Coaching was the greatest thing in the world," said Snader. "The most rewarding experience. Now that it's over, I'm sad it's gone. I can't wait for next season."

Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or mvitez@phillynews.com. Follow @michaelvitez on Twitter.


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