Did you know there is a ten-time World, five-time U.S. Open, and six-time Masters Freestyle Frisbee Champion living here in Evergreen? Larry Imperiale is one of the most influential competitors of freestyle Frisbee, if not the most influential, who, incidentally, just added the 2001 World Masters Championship to his scroll of world titles this June in Boulder, making it seven Masters (over the age of thirty-five) World titles rather than six.
A very old book cites that, "The meek shall inherit the earth." I've pondered this sentence often, wondering just how meek one must be to inherit such a grand treasure. I've even gone so far as to try and live my life as humbly as possible in hopes of merely a spilled drop of this treasure proclaiming a teeming well of words. But when humility is used in the same sentence along with the words ten-time world champion, it seems (where it shouldn't) a bit out of context. Especially when you juxtapose those few words with these: Founder of, SalePoint, Inc. magazine's nineteenth fastest growing private company in the United States in 1991.
Yet humble is exactly what Larry Imperiale is. Humble, even after conceiving, then selling in five years, what turned into a national computer company from his MBA thesis, coupled with those ten, ten mind you, world titles. Which means, if you haven't caught on by now, the meek, along with a little brainstorming, initiative, and a desire to excel, do inherit the earth.
"I'm not trying to sell anything here; my main motivation is to initiate freestyle to a broader audience," Larry told me. He simply wants more people around the world to associate freestyle Frisbee along with the other top sports.
The term freestyle is derived from the freedom of expression one uses during an event. You've most likely seen, or even spun, a Frisbee into the air yourself and tried to have it roll down one arm to the other. Well, this is a genesis of freestyle. From here, you will need to add in a multitude of other innovative moves like the Scarecrow, where you catch the disk behind your head without looking; or Laerbs kicks, where you keep the Frisbee aloft and spinning with your feet-a move that Larry himself invented; or catch it between your legs or your teammate's, on your finger, all the while keeping the Frisbee, or Frisbees, spinning without letting them drop to the ground. The more technical the skill involved the more points are awarded, as, say, in gymnastics or figure skating. The more you invert and/or contort yourself the better, as long as you are flawless and fluidly choreographed to a musical routine for five-minutes. Watching the sport live makes you want to run out onto the field and jam (the term freestylers use for spinning the disc back and forth with a group of people) right along with them.
Larry has, in fact, traveled around the world extensively as an international ambassador of freestyle just for this cause. "I love traveling all over the world for freestyle because it's such a unique sport." He's given freestyle demonstrations in Germany, Slovakia, Scotland, Italy, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Israel, and Australia, to name only a few country's. He's spun a disk atop the summit of Nepal's 20,000-foot peak, Imja Tse (Island Peak), and at the lowest point of his inherited earth, the Dead Sea, at 1,200 feet below sea level. Very soon Larry will take a short time off from his present work at eoTek, developer of the online mortgage site www.nexstarhome.com in Bergen Park, and head to Japan for more freestyle ambassador demonstrations at the 2001 World Games. He is currently a volunteer treasurer of the FPA (Freestyle Players Association) and has a couple of Frisbee Web pages he created, or is a part of, at coloradopowder.com, freestyledisc.org, www.wfdf.org, and frisbee.com, with an abundance of Frisbee information.
As some of you may concur, prior to this interview or article, I had no idea that Frisbee tournaments existed worldwide, or even that a Frisbee was used in sporting events at all other than Frisbee golf. Yet Frisbee golf and Ultimate Frisbee (a game similar to soccer or football where a team tries to course its way down a field to score points while passing the Frisbee to each other) have been major European and even national college sports here in the United States for quite some time.
In the '80s and '90s, Larry focused mainly on freestyle, he said, but has, in the new millennium, ventured into expansive overall tournaments with many different skill events similar to a decathlon. As was the Masters Tournament he just won. The Masters had seven skilled events consisting of: DDC (a two-man team game similar to volleyball), Distance, Accuracy, SCF (Self Caught Flight), Discathon, Golf, and Freestyle. Ultimately, however, even after all those world titles,Larry told me he would rather jam with a bunch of fellow freestylers down at Wash Park in Denver, or anywhere, for-that-matter, than compete against them. The odd thing is that it is the truth. You can read the pure, childlike, excited honesty in his wide, blue eyes. You know what Larry does to wind down at the end of a grueling day? Of course, what else, play a round of Frisbee golf through his woods, beginning with the first hole a hundred yards or so off the side balcony of his exquisite home.
After attending The Masters Tournament in Boulder, even without a shred of Frisbee knowledge, and just being around Larry, his fiancee Mary, the other players and their families and friends, and feeling the camaraderie and sportsmanship of them all, it caused me to pick up yet another sport. Hopefully, Larry will allow me a small slice of his meekly inherited earth to throw a disc around on. Actually, I know he will be more than happy too, as well as teach me a thing or two, and any of you right along with me, for that matter.
|Copyright Larry Imperiale 2004|