Killer Mosquitos reunite for ultimate match
by Rory Doyle
Oct 12, 2012 | 2596 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Coach Steven Craddock (center, holding Frisbee) will organize a 21-year reunion for the Killer Mosquitos, a local Ultimate Frisbee team he has been coordinating since 1991. Cradock said team veterans would be coming in for the weekend from as far away as Washington.
Coach Steven Craddock (center, holding Frisbee) will organize a 21-year reunion for the Killer Mosquitos, a local Ultimate Frisbee team he has been coordinating since 1991. Cradock said team veterans would be coming in for the weekend from as far away as Washington.
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Some get it and some don't — Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport.

Just ask anyone who's ever been part of Cleveland's team, the Killer Mosquitos, formerly known as Wildcat Ultimate.

Long-time Cleveland High School teacher, swim coach and now principal, Steven Craddock, has been teaching local youth the sport for 21 years.

Since 1991, hundreds of faces have come to recognize Craddock as the local leader sharing his passion for the game.

This weekend, Craddock is organizing a team reunion, a "coming-of-age birthday celebration" where 40 or more players will unite.

Both former and active players will face off Saturday at 1 p.m. on the quad at Delta State University to spend an afternoon of Frisbee and friendship, honoring the proud Ultimate tradition of Cleveland.

The team's camaraderie is evidenced by the distance players will travel to attend the reunion.

Team veterans will be coming in from as far away as Virginia, Washington, Atlanta and Dallas.

"The fact that people are willing to come from such great distances shows to me the bond that we've had as a team for so many years," said Craddock.

"Some of the older guys will be playing against the newer players for the first time."

The current team meets every Sunday for competitive pickup; a staple activity that Craddock, who still plays, said has become a very important part of his life.

The club originally formed as cross training for Craddock's swim team at CHS, but soon other local youth joined and stuck with it.

"I loved Ultimate and thought it was a great way for my swimmers to stay in shape," said Craddock, who first fell in love with the game as a student at Ole Miss in 1984.

Legend has it Craddock used to give troublemakers at CHS two options — go to detention or strap up the cleats and hit the Ultimate field.

"Since I wanted nothing to do with detention, I came out to play," said Mike Carr, CHS class of '99 and 16-year team veteran. "It was a great policy; however, in retrospect, it did create a team full of big talkers."

Carr said he has nothing but admiration for Craddock's dedication to the group.

"I have looked up to Coach Craddock as a mentor since I was about 15-years-old," he said. "He loves the sport, loves our team and has devoted a lot of his personal time — and funds — over the years designing uniforms, T-shirts, discs, logos and making sure we all stayed in touch with each other.

"Coach’s leadership has really helped me keep up with Cleveland High School, Delta State and the next generation of Ultimate players."

Teammate Shane King, who has played for 10 years, echoed Carr's gratefulness.

"Coach's experience on and off the field led me to follow his every instruction because I knew he wouldn't lead me in the wrong direction," said King. "His leadership on the field taught me to always listen to the advice of elders, because even if I believed deep down that I was right, their experience always helped."

The Killer Mosquitos are more than just a local presence; they regularly travel to tournaments throughout the Southeast region.

Craddock and the team have attended tournaments across Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee.

The furthest they travelled for a tournament was over eight hours to Maryville, Tenn.

"One of my fondest memories is when we won our first game in '98, and of course, winning our first tournament in 2006," said Craddock.

For those less familiar with the rules, Ultimate Frisbee runs at a non-stop pace, mixing features of other sports such as soccer, basketball and football.

Teams must complete passes of the Frisbee from one end of the field to the other, before scoring in the end zone, much like in football.

There is no limit to the number of throws a team can complete before scoring, and the Frisbee can be thrown forward or backward.

Any time a pass is dropped, intercepted or thrown incomplete, the opposing team immediately gains possession and moves down the field in the opposite direction.

Once a player catches a pass, he must stop all momentum to the quickest of his ability; there is no advancing of the Frisbee by running with it.

Much like basketball, once the Frisbee is in possession and momentum has stopped, the player may then establish a pivot foot.

The player pivots as needed to avoid a block from the defense, and has 10 seconds to complete a pass to a teammate.

Similar to soccer, players are always on the go, anticipating openings on the field.

The team completing the most catches in its offensive end zone wins the game.

Ultimate began in the late 60s by high school students in New Jersey, and the game has gained popularity throughout the world over the decades.

It was even a medal sport in the 2001 World Games in Japan, and the professional league known as the American Ultimate Disc League began in 2012.

As the Killer Mosquitos remain a proud team, this weekend is a milestone for Craddock and the crew.

"I'm really looking forward to playing with alumni that I haven't seen in years," he said. "It will be an emotional time catching up with everyone who's shown dedication for so long."

The team is open to new players joining for pickup and tournaments. Those with or without experience are welcome to come out.

Pickup occurs every Sunday at 1 p.m. on the DSU quad.

To learn more about the sport, visit www.usaultimate.org.