The following article is sponsored by Spikeball.
Wow. The first day of this reporter’s first Wildwood Beach Ultimate tournament has ended, (the playing, anyhow) and that’s about all I can muster is WOW. Okay, maybe there’s a bit more muster. The stories of absolute mayhem on the beautiful white sandy beach are not exaggerated. After our final game, I got a chance to leisurely walk back to the hotel and attempt to take everything in. Due to the incredible size of the tournament, over 6000+ competitors, I have to admit defeat. There’s just too much to watch, too many games simultaneously producing epic plays that only come from beach layouts, and 4v4 sized fields. Even the local vendors get into the act. Customized reversible pennies with everything from the WFDF logo to, well, whatever you want on there, are in every single clothing shop, enticing specifically the ultimate community with their advertisement boards and signs. There’s no question the local community embraces and welcomes the pure insanity every year. In turn, Wildwood does some embracing and welcoming of its own. More and more participants each and every year flock to “the worlds largest beach ultimate tournament,” and according to owner Len Dagit and founder Mike Adlis, that’s exactly the point.
“Five years ago, we became the largest beach ultimate tournament in the world,” Dagit explained. “And we now have three times as many participants as back then.”
Dagit went on to say that in the past ten years, Wildwood has grown in participation by ~10 to 25% each and every year. This year that equates to a staggering 450+ teams and 6000+ participants playing their bikinis and board shorts off on enough sand space for 115 separate fields…and a beer garden to hold all those thirsty participants after play ends tonight. This is not even including the 150 or so volunteers that graciously tend to every need from first aid, to merchandise.
“We started off on the south side of the pier, then had to come north, then had to combine both,” founder Mike Adlis pointed out, showing the evolution with excited hand gestures. “Next year, we might have to move north of the next pier, too,” Adlis continued.
One of the individuals dedicated to the growth of Wildwood, without actually playing in any games (anymore) is MLU President Jeff Snader. His philosophy, and in turn the philosophy of MLU is “to promote ultimate in general,” and anyone who’s anyone, including Snader, will tell you Wildwood does precisely that, and then some.
“MLU wants to be as inclusive as possible,” Snader said, “And as a player [at Wildwood] from 2000-2008, I’ve seen it grow every year and knew it was a great opportunity to act on this philosophy.”
This explains why Snader and MLU decided to partner with Wildwood Beach Ultimate, while other elite ultimate companies to remain nameless passed on the opportunity.
“Len and I talked on the phone, and immediately it just clicked,” Snader explained.
What better way to promote ultimate than at the largest beach tourney in the world? And you can add on top of that the fact that Wildwood Beach Ultimate has raised tens of thousands of dollars for many charities over the past 21 years. These include everything from local recreation centers, to high school programs up and down the eastern seaboard, to national charities, and this year, the Wounded Warrior program. Two of the wounded soldiers benefiting from this years’ competition will even be on hand to watch the showcase game on Saturday evening! Talk about amazing promotion of this great game, amirite!?
Later on in the beer garden, the wounded warriors should feel especially comfortable.
“With a brand new tap truck with 24 taps, we have to be almost militant in the beer garden,” Dagit said. “Jeff [Snader] and I were previously in the military, and Mike’s father was a Colonel in the military, so it shouldn’t be a problem. We have to have a tactical beer plan, of sorts,” he continued. “But like any tactical military plan, it’s only good until the first shot is fired,” Dagit joked.
Wildwood has come a long way from its humble beginnings over 21 years ago, when Mike Adlis traveled down to Florida from his hometown and saw some guys playing a 4v4 game of ultimate on the beach.
Luckily for the rest of us, Adlis took the idea and ran with it all the way back to New Jersey. (Due, in part, to the fact that Florida is just too dang hot in the summer.) He, along with Dagit and now this year Snader have created a monster. And unlike the negative connotation that comes with the cliche, creating such a monster is a very, very good thing for the promotion of ultimate, in all of its forms.
Now it’s off to the beer garden for a much-needed libation to wash down the never ending amount of sand in my throat.