Flatball Radio Revisited

by | February 20, 2014, 1:57pm 0

Flatball's Dominique Fontenette

Last December, 130 people packed into Seattle’s Market Theater on a cold Tuesday night to witness a first for the ultimate community. Most had no idea what they were in for. Even the organizers weren’t entirely sure what to expect. An hour and a half later, all those in attendance left knowing they had experienced something truly amazing.

That night was the world premiere of Flatball Radio, “Ultimate’s first live storytelling series.” The event was organized and hosted by Matt Mastrantuono, of Chasing Sarasota and Portland Rhino fame, and Tyler Kinley, of Seattle Sockeye and Twitter fame. After being hit with a stroke of inspiration at Windmill Windup in Amsterdam last June, Mastrantuono and Kinley gathered up six of Seattle’s most prominent ultimate players and coaches to share stories of inspiration, humility, tragedy, and hilarity.

Donnie Clark (Seattle Sockeye), Dominique Fontenette (Seattle Riot), Alysia Letourneau (University of Washington Element), Frank Nam (Coach, Franklin H.S.), Gina Phillips (Seattle Underground), and Ben Wiggins (Coach, Seattle Riot Coach, former Sockeye player), along with Kinley, all prepared for months in advance of the premiere. On the night of the show, they excelled just as they had on the field for so many years. “The jump that our speakers made from our final meeting to the story they told on stage was enormous. They removed every barrier from themselves and the audience, connecting on the highest level,” Mastrantuono marveled. In short, “every storyteller nailed it.”

After the huge success of Chasing Sarasota, many expected a similar venture from Mastrantuono. So, why stories? “No matter the country or level of play, there are no strangers in our community when you start exchanging stories about your experience with ultimate. This project, more than anything I’ve done in ultimate, feels universal,” he insisted. It is important to note that these were not “speeches” or “presentations.” To use those words would be a slight to the relationship the storytellers shared with the audience. There was not much distinction between those holding the microphone and those listening. Rather, the mood in the room was much like it would be when listening to a close friend share something truly honest and moving. By the end of the night, it was clear that everyone at the Market Theater connected on the same level, leaving with the feeling like they had just become close friends with a lot more people.

For those that weren’t part of the lucky 130 in the theater that evening will delight in knowing that Mastrantuono and Kinley had the foresight to film the entire event with two high-definition cameras. All seven videos are now available to purchase from the Flatball Radio Store, and Mastrantuono is confident that the stories, each about 10 minutes long, are well-suited for repeat viewing. “These are such personal stories that you’ll want time for reflection. The video experience allows that to happen. You can watch it multiple times, sifting through the layers of the story,” Mastrantuono suggested.

Frank Nam’s story, which concluded the evening, lends itself to that philosophy. Nam artfully blends humor and heartbreak to turn a story about a high school state championship into a motivational lesson. Emotions were the theme of the evening. Mastrantuono points to Dom Fontenette in particular. “[She] was able to take a heavy, tragic topic like suicide and bring levity to the story. She painted a touching, human portrait of her friend with loving stories and hilarious anecdotes”. Needless to say, these are not the same kind of lighthearted stories shared around a few drinks at the bar. Kinley and Mastrantuono provided the canvas, and the speakers responded in part to create something special.

As much as the stories entertained and enthralled, ultimate players also like having pure, simple fun, and Flatball Radio delivered on that front as well. The hosts periodically played games with the audience, during which they passed out prizes contributed by the event’s sponsors: Five Ultimate, Friction Gloves, and RISE UP. After a brief intermission, Kinley served as a talk show host of sorts for a “halftime show” which featured Fontenette and Wiggins discussing their most embarrassing ultimate moments.

After such a successful first showing, what’s next for Flatball Radio? “We want to keep putting on shows!” an excited Mastrantuono declared. The resources to do that, however, will undoubtedly rely on the success of the first round of videos.

Flatball Radio videos can be purchased from the Flatball Radio Store for $1.50 per story, or $7.00 for all seven. For those viewers wanting a taste of the event before making a purchase, Frank Nam’s entire story has been released in full on YouTube.

Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at] skydmagazine.com.