History: 1975-1976; Freestyle Becomes a Sport

World Class WhamoThe Eastern Trick Catch event of the first Octad in 1974 gave way to a judged singles format at the 1975 Octad, due much to the success of the Jersey Jam. The venerable 60 mold Super Pro was the state of the art freestyle disc at the time, and was the disc of choice for freestyle competition. Stork won the contest, followed in order by Victor Malafronte, Ken Westerfield, Irv Kalb, and Kerry Kollmar.

Influenced by the Canadian Open Freestyle for Pairs format, the 1975 AFDO included Freestyle for Pairs as an event in conjunction with a Disc Golf tournament. For the very first time, a freestyle event used the three-category judging system; difficulty, execution, and presentation. Freddie Haft became the first person ever to do a delay in a freestyle competition. Ken Westerfield introduced the body roll. With their airbrushing co-op moves, Dan Roddick and Irv Kalb won the event, Ken Westerfield and John Kirkland took second, and Doug Corea and Mark Danna got the third-place trophy.

In August, the 1975 Canadian Open hosted a huge Freestyle for Pairs competition. It seemed like everyone who was doing any Frisbee activity wanted to get in on the burgeoning art of freestyle. Dan Roddick and Irv Kalb repeated their AFDO Freestyle for Pairs win with their exquisite air brushing co-op moves that were still ahead of the curve for the freestyle game at the time. Second place went to John Kirkland and Victor Malafronte. Ken Westerfield and Jim Kenner took third place.

The 1975 WFC included two freestyle events, a singles format and a pairs format. Kerry Kollmar won the singles, and Dan Roddick and Irv Kalb made it a three in a row sweep of all of the 1975 Freestyle for Pairs events to be contested.

The 1975 Jersey Jam brought Erwin Velasquez and Krae Van Sickle to the scene for the first time, two of the young and soon-to-be stalwarts of the freestyle movement.

By 1976, freestyle exploded into becoming an Integral component of almost any flying disc competitive event being contested. Even some guts tournaments held a freestyle event, particularly the Ann Arbor Frisbee Indoor Open tournament.

Dan Roddick had now become the new director of the International Frisbee Association, sponsored by the Wham-O MFG Company. Under his direction, the IFA instituted the North American Series (NAS), a series of World Frisbee Championship (WFC) qualifying tournaments held in the biggest Frisbee markets in the USA and Canada. Each one of these tournaments showcased a freestyle event, effectively introducing the concept of freestyle to thousands of new Frisbee players. The new Wham-O World Class “G” series discs, with its smooth underside, started an evolutionary move away from the Super Pro as the standard freestyle disc.

Controlled tipping had become the foundation of most freestyle routines by the end of 1975 and into the 1976 season. But at the Ann Arbor Indoor tournament in March of 1976, Richie Smits astounded the gathering with his mastery of long, controlled delays, giving a glimpse of what was to be coming in the future of freestyle.

Although the use of controlled delay moves didn’t become a staple for other freestylers until the 1977 season, Richie and his regular partner, Joey Hudoklin, displayed a unique brand of delay freestyle that made them contenders throughout the 1976 Freestyle season. They introduced the concept of “slicking” up the disc and the use of fake fingernails that enabled controlled delay moves.

Also of note were the State Championship tournaments that burgeoned in 1976. They played a big role in the development of Freestyle (and Overall Formats as well). Some of the State Championships that sprang onto the scene in 1976 were Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and of course the hallowed Virginia State Championships.

The teams of Doug Corea/Dave Marini and Jens and Erwin Velasquez were the leading pairs for the season. Some of the other freestylers that helped to build the foundation of the sport during this 1976 formative year were Jeff Jorgenson, Tom Kennedy, John  Weyand, Victor Malafronte, Tom Shepard, Steve Gottlieb, Johnny Jewell, John Mortimer, Gary Perlberg, Jeff Soto, Tom McRann, Danny McGinnis, Dan Roddick, Irv Kalb, Don Vaughn, Don “Rocket” Hoskins, Michael “Muck” Young, John Bird, Cyndi Birch, Michelle Pezzoli, Monika Lou, Bill King, Jim Brown, John Anthony, Tom Wingo, Krae Van Sickle, Mark Danna, Kerry Kollmar, Peter Bloeme, Freddie Haft, John Kirkland, Ken Westerfield, Gail McColl, John Connelly, Tom Cleworth, Bruce Koger, Jose Montalvo, Chou Rottman, Alan Blake, Marie Murphy, John Sappington, Scott Dickson, Vaughn Frick, Jo Cahow, “Igor” Harper, Don Cain, Ronnie Dorn, Jamie Moldt, Bill O’Dell, Gary Lynas and Tom Monroe.

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Thanks to the Freestyle Players Association (FPA) for sharing this information with FrisbeeGuru.com.

The entire document is stored on FreestyleDisc.org, as is the FPA’s Hall of Fame.

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  1. Thank you for sharing the history! It’s great to have this knowledge about some of the evolution of Freestyle Disc play.

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