Ultimate Glory
A story of obsession, glory, and the wild early days of Ultimate Frisbee.Before he made a name for himself as an acclaimed essayist and nature writer, David Gessner devoted his twenties to a cultish sport called Ultimate Frisbee. Like his teammates and rivals, he trained for countless hours, sacrificing his body and potential career for a chance at fleeting glory without fortune or fame. His only goal: to win Nationals and go down in Ultimate history as one of the greatest athletes no one has ever heard of.Today Ultimate is played by millions of people around the world, with professional teams in more than two dozen cities. In the 1980s, it was an obscure sport with a (mostly) undeserved stoner reputation. Its early heroes, key players like Kenny Dobyns, Steve Mooney, Tom Kennedy, and David Barkan, were as scrappy as the sport they loved, driven by fierce competition, intense rivalries, epic parties, and the noble ideals of the Spirit of the Game. Ultimate Glory is a portrait of the artist as a young ruffian. Driven by ambition, whimsy, love, and vanity, Gessner lives for those moments when he loses himself completely in the game. He shares the field and his seemingly insane obsession with a cast of closely knit, larger-than-life characters. As his sport grows up, so does he, and eventually he gives up chasing flying discs to pursue a career as a writer. But he never forgets his love for this misunderstood sport and the rare sense of purpose he attained as a member of its priesthood.

Ultimate Glory Details

TitleUltimate Glory
Author
FormatPaperback
ReleaseJun 6th, 2017
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN073521056X
ISBN-139780735210561
Number of pages352 pages
Rating

Ultimate Glory Review

  • Ron S
    June 18, 2017
    "Isn't that the thing you do with dogs?" Not so much. Environmental writer and essayist Gessner details the rise of Ultimate, a somewhat modified form of football played with Frisbees, which he stumbled into in the early days of the sport. As much a memoir of Gessner's struggles to become a writer, his philosophical internal struggles with trying to figure out how to live, as a record of competitive battles on the field. Anyone that has played Ultimate will love this fast paced read; those that "Isn't that the thing you do with dogs?" Not so much. Environmental writer and essayist Gessner details the rise of Ultimate, a somewhat modified form of football played with Frisbees, which he stumbled into in the early days of the sport. As much a memoir of Gessner's struggles to become a writer, his philosophical internal struggles with trying to figure out how to live, as a record of competitive battles on the field. Anyone that has played Ultimate will love this fast paced read; those that have not, such as myself, but struggled through their 20s and obsessions of their own, will enjoy it equally. Put it this way: if you enjoyed William Finnegan's Barbarian Days but don't surf, you're going to love this. Gessner's other books include All the Wild that Remains.
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  • Jim Mallon
    July 2, 2017
    I loved this book! David Gessner captures perfectly the conflicting inner glories and insecurities of 1980s era Ultimate players. We were playing the Greatest Sport of All Time, while being dismissed by colleagues, friends and family for pursuing a passion Gessner rightly compares, in the minds of the public, to "Professional Tiddley-winks." [True revelation: My family never diminished the beauty of Ultimate, nor my passion for it, and for that I am ever grateful.]This book feels like it could h I loved this book! David Gessner captures perfectly the conflicting inner glories and insecurities of 1980s era Ultimate players. We were playing the Greatest Sport of All Time, while being dismissed by colleagues, friends and family for pursuing a passion Gessner rightly compares, in the minds of the public, to "Professional Tiddley-winks." [True revelation: My family never diminished the beauty of Ultimate, nor my passion for it, and for that I am ever grateful.]This book feels like it could have been my autobiography, the book that I, a far less accomplished Ultimate player and a far more unaccomplished and unfulfilled writer than David Gessner, might have written if I'd ever had the dedication, memory and determination of the author. For that, in fact, I am thankful. I am thankful that someone with the skill and talent of "Gersh" found it in his soul and his fingertips to share with the world what it was like to actually live within a cult that never ~really~ harmed anyone, although it did derail more than a few life paths, relationships and nascent careers, not to mention minimum wage jobs abandoned for the lure of one more thousand-mile road trip to chase a plastic disc around and commune with a few hundred like-minded lunatics. That said, the real, undeniable, reward of Ultimate was that the sport gave us all a chance to feel like brothers and sisters in something very secret and very special. In the best of times, if we got that block or caught that goal, or better yet were on that team that won that tournament, we might even feel like gods.Ultimate Glory is filled with stories not only of desire, obsession and that fleeting, temporary, but oh so satisfying sense of greatness on the field, but also the tales of depravity and self-destruction beyond. Yes, indeed, we had a wild and sometimes reckless sense of fun.I could go on at length about all of this, but Mr. Gessner covers it comprehensively in the book. I was a West Coast recruit, he was from the East. Our time-in-service was nearly identical, though to the best I my knowledge and memory we never met on the field (certainly not in the fall, due to my own team's struggles in bettering the likes of Tsunami and Iguana). We shared many many teammates however, more than a few of whom remain my lifelong friends.What this book makes it clear is the undeniable awe the flight of a flying disc ignites. It's a flame that burns within all Ultimate players. And the visceral joy that comes from chasing down a piece of plastic and laying out and clasping it at the last moment is a sensation that can never be equaled. It is the Ultimate sensation. It is what makes lifers of us all.The sport is growing at an astonishing rate these days, with pro leagues and TV coverage and salaries and the like....but we were there for the explosion.
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  • Marissa
    July 1, 2017
    A memoir and history of the sport of Ultimate Frisbee with an emphasis on the Northeast and the rivalry between the New York and Boston club teams. I found it to be generously written. The author reveals some truths of his young adulthood and the maturation, however suspended, he experienced through his embrace of an oddly obsession-producing sport.
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