Woody Brown's Ultimate Frisbee team, the Miami Refugees, sprinted and spun its way to the sport's world championship title in Finland.
By LORRI HELFAND
Published August 22, 2004
LARGO - The city has a gold medalist in its midst: local chiropractor Woody Brown.
Brown's Ultimate Frisbee team, the Miami Refugees, won the World Ultimate & GutsChampionships in Turku, Finland, two weeks ago.
Brown said he's still trying to fathom the achievement.
"We've been working on this for two years. It was quite a moment to represent the U.S., and to win the world championships was unexplainable," said Brown, a Largo resident.
About 1,500 athletes participated in the tournament, which drew 76 teams from 23 countries.
Ultimate Frisbee, invented in 1967 by a group of students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., is kind of a cross between football and soccer. Goals are scored when players catch the disc in the end zone.
The Miami Refugees, which won a national championship last fall, represented the United States in the masters' division, designated for athletes older than 30.
While the Refugees hammered away at the competition pretty consistently, Brown said there were some tense moments.
The Refugees won its first three games. Then it suffered a 14-13 loss.
"Losing to Canada was a real wake-up call," Brown said.
But the Refugees won the next several games. And in its second matchup with Canada, the Refugees came back with a vengeance, earning an early lead and gaining a 17-10 victory.
"We had a lot of guys in good shape. It allowed us to run them down and by the end of the game the Canadian team was running out of gas, and we were still running well," Brown said.
At 6 foot 7, Brown said his key role was defensive, blocking passes.
Brown trained intensively before the tournament. He traveled to Miami once a month to work out with the Refugees, and three months before the competition, he made trips to Miami every other week.
He also practiced with a local Ultimate Frisbee team, and worked out on his own doing sprints and plyometrics, exercises that employ jumping and other explosive movements.
Before the tournament, Brown had never traveled to Europe. While he was in Finland, he had little time to do anything besides playing Ultimate Frisbee and training. But after the win, he made time to celebrate.