ULTIMATE CHALLENGE MHS fields become spin city for Friday Frisbee games

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METHUEN — Every Friday various students from Methuen High School gather on one of the practice fields behind the football stadium to play Ultimate — a competitive game played with a Frisbee.

The club started three years ago with English teacher Jeff Bellistri as the faculty adviser.

“We play every Friday against other kids from Methuen High,” Bellistri said. “There’s no signup per se. They just have to get permission slips from me and once they do that they can come whenever they want.”

In the game, there are two teams consisting of at least eight players per side. The rules are simple, and the teams referee themselves.

The rules are simple. Players cannot run with the disc, and a player in possession of it has 10 seconds to throw it to a player on his or her team.

“The only way the offense keeps possession is with a completed pass,” Bellistri said. “If the defense intercepts the Frisbee or if they knock down a pass or anything they get possession.”

Bellistri is known as being a fierce competitor, and he welcomes the challenge on the field —even though he is playing against high school students.

“Half of them are faster than me, taller than me and stronger than me,” Bellistri said. “When they make plays over me they feel good about it.”

Mike Picardi, who graduated from MHS last spring and is one of the founding members of the club, enjoys playing against his former teacher.

“He can get very competitive out there,” Picardi said of Bellistri. “He’s all over the place. You think you’re in the clear and then there he is grabbing the Frisbee out of your hands.”

Senior Mike Barnes called for substitutes out on the field so Bellistri could get back in the game.

“I need my quarterback,” Barnes yelled.

Bellistri and Barnes led their team up the field with short, crisp passes to their teammates.

Barnes headed for the end zone and yelled for Bellistri to pass him the disc. Bellistri threaded the Frisbee through five defenders to a waiting Barnes for the score.

“That was insane,” senior Andrew Warren yelled from the sidelines.

Though it’s fun to compete against friends and classmates, some of the players want the club to become an official team that plays against other schools. Freshman Jeff Salois is one of those players. He heard about the club when he was still in middle school and couldn’t wait to join once he got to the high school.

“I heard that Andover, Haverhill and some other schools have teams,” Salois said. “I don’t understand why we don’t have a team. I think it would be cool to compete against other teams.”

Bellistri said he has thought about turning the club into a team.

“We would need to get the dimensions of the field right,” Bellistri said. “And we know the rules, but our rules are not official. It would be something I would consider doing.”

Bellistri said his free time is one of the reasons he has not pursued creating an official team.

“That’s selfishly speaking, but that’s what it comes down to,” Bellistri said. “I need my free time, and with Adopt-A-Grandparent every week and playing basketball every week, grading papers and everything.”