America-Themed Opening Ceremonies Welcome Ultimate World to Ohio

Some light-hearted fun and entertainment to begin the international competition.

CINCINNATI, OH: Opening ceremony at the World Ultimate Club Championships. July 15, 2018. © Andrew Moss for UltiPhotos

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2018 WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships is presented by VC Ultimate; all opinions are those of the authors. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at VC Ultimate!

The opening ceremonies officially kicked off the WFDF 2018 World Ultimate Club Championships just before the opening game between Wild Card (USA) and GRUT (NED) on Saturday evening. The event featured live music, acrobatics acts, and parachutists. Even in the sweltering heat, the show seemed to be a successful entertainment event for the throng of ultimate players from all over the world.

The stadium where the event was held was nearly filled to capacity, and the crowd exceeded the expectations of the hosts. Attendees—almost exclusively competing players—were treated to a short set from local band American Banter, who played mostly America-themed songs like Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” to make sure that no one would forget that the games were, in fact, taking place in the U.S. To their credit, the band was talented, and the crowd seemed to be into the show. The attempted waves executed by the crowd didn’t quite hit maximum potential, but the audience did clap along with Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful” for its entirety.

Further back on the field, behind the band, local performance acts from the Cincinnati Circus and the Aerial Skills Team added an extra level of entertainment to the ceremonies’ opening act. The acts featured younger performers that were easy to root for as they entered short tumbling passes. The gymnastics routines were particularly popular among the crowd, and they elicited the largest cheers of the event.

The second act didn’t quite hit the same heights as the first. A handful of teams performed alongside Revolution in their “Hips Don’t Lie Challenge.” New Zealand ChCh Chicks, Japan Huck, UK teams Iceni and Smog, and their Colombian compatriots AeroSoul all joined in. Unfortunately, the dance didn’t quite lead to a more energetic crowd. The dancers all did their part well enough, but it wasn’t as over-the-top emphatic as it would have needed to be to really sell it for spectators sitting 50+ yards away. There was also no real way for the crowd to participate with the show,1 as they had with the band, and it sapped the overall energy just a tad.

Next was the flags ceremony, the main event. As the different present countries were announced over the stadium PA, YCC players marched the appropriate flag around the field. Crowd participation for their own countries being announced and paraded around was mostly muted. The Colombian teams did vociferously support their flag bearer, to the point of drowning out a few of the countries announced behind them, but for the most part, countries’ volunteer representatives were supported with lukewarm enthusiasm.

This felt like a missed opportunity by the event organizers. It was surely a neat moment for the young players who were able to carry the flags. But why not have a representative from each team, with an elected flag bearer representing each country? It would go down as one of the greatest honors of the sport to be the flag bearer for this event, and it would heighten the connection of the players in the crowd with the ceremony on the field. As it was, the moment came up short in creating the sense of internationalism that it was going for. The entertainment acts were fun and had charm, but not having players participate in the flag ceremony felt like it missed the point slightly, or, at the very least, missed an opportunity for something more special.

Welcome messages from local government officials followed and felt warm and welcoming, though it was hard to make out exactly what they were saying from the press box due to the acoustics of the stadium. Beyond the details of the quick speeches, though, it was clear that hosting this event means a great deal to the towns of Lebanon and Mason, Ohio, and that was a nice sentiment for the far-flung travelers that packed the stands.

To wrap up the ceremonies, parachutists flew down from the sky and onto the field. The first two towed one red, white, and blue streamer each, and third carried a massive American flag and, in a nice twist, the game disc for the showcase match. Of course, the three floated down while “The Star Spangled Banner,” the USA national anthem, was sung. This created an entertaining scene in the crowd, as nearly every player had his or her phone pointed skyward, all seeking to capture the memory for posterity. Seeing most of the tournaments participants all in near unison was one of the cooler sights of the afternoon.

Overall, the event had a distinctly American feel but not to the point of being over the top. It’s a shame that the players didn’t get to be involved a bit more, particularly in the flag ceremony. But it was a nice way to kickoff the tournament and, even if it wasn’t perfect, it was clear a real effort was made to put on a fun show. The players not only seemed appreciative, but welcomed, and ready for a week of international fun and competition. 

Quotes From the Crowd:

Jerome Desdeheimer, Lebanon Police Department: “[It’s a] great crowd; it’s a great event; it’s really cool. All the international [players,] it’s awesome. Good for the economy, seems like a really laid back, cool crowd.”

Luis Novoa, Venezuela Hanomami captain: “Being here and representing Venezuela means a lot to us. We’ve been working very hard to put this team together…We are living abroad because of the situation in Venezuela, so we have people everywhere in the world right now. All of our players are spread out so in order to be able to be here so we made a lot of sacrifices trying to put everything together. We’ve been doing this since 1991, we’re probably one of the oldest teams here participating as a team as it is, so it’s been very hard for us to be here. But finally we made it, we put a team together and we are happy to be here.”

John Waitumbi, Kenya Kisumu Frisbee Club’s most veteran player: “For us it’s a dream come true. We are a small team in Kenya and it took a lot to get us here. Half of our team could not get visas…Here we have friends in the U.S. so we have a full team and we are excited.”


  1. though attempting such an act was encouraged by the M.C. 

  1. Daniel Prentice

    Daniel is a product of the Tallahassee ultimate community and has been writing for Ultiworld since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @danielprent.

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