It was shortly after midnight last Saturday, and Jadon Scullion was sitting on a bench at Keva Sports Center in Middleton swigging coffee. He, along with more than 60 other guys, were resting up after running sprints and having their vertical leaps measured. In a few minutes they'd divide into teams and play ultimate Frisbee for three hours before staggering home at dawn.
"I wanna be a pro!" jokes Scullion. He, like the others, is trying out for the Radicals, Madison's new professional ultimate team. It begins play in the American Ultimate Disc League this spring with a 16-game schedule, including a May 3 home opener at Breese Stevens Field.
Ultimate has traditionally been a grassroots sport run by the players, even at the competitive college and club levels. Athletes pick up the cost for everything, including uniforms and field space. The AUDL, run by Cisco Systems president Robert Lloyd, hopes to marshal the best talent and attract interest from spectators and sponsors.
"I think the idea of not having to pay to play is great," says Scullion, who has played for the Madison Club team. "And I think Madison is the kind of community that will support this kind of activity. We play in front of people during summer league, but that's just other ultimate players. This will open up the game to a bigger community."
At 37, Scullion might be the oldest guy at Keva. But his quickness and field awareness give him an edge against players 20 years his junior. Even as he perks himself up with some caffeine, he believes he's holding his own.
"When you get older, what you lose in athleticism you make up in experience," he says with a grin.