Two heartwarming stories about rivals, Aki Kurose and Mercer Middle Schools, and a meeting of the minds (and bodies) over Ultimate Frisbee. I heard the the KUOW story myself and had to smile and a reader (thanks!) sent me the PI story. From the PI:
Four years ago, the kids from Aki Kurose and Asa Mercer middle schools – both in Seattle's South End – were bitter rivals. Mercer students would bus to Aki on half days to jump those who lingered after school. Aki students threw rocks at Mercer school buses. Gangs grew out of each middle school, and violence gripped the area.
So Terry and Rex Gaoaen of the Union Gospel Mission decided to take over the fledging ultimate program (at Mercer). Ultimate, they reasoned, was a peaceful sport.
But the North End kids didn't bother them as much as a nearer opponent: Aki Kurose. Tugade said that after losing to Aki in seventh grade, the players wondered, "Why be mad at them? They made good throws and good points. These guys aren't that bad."
By the end of the year, Aki and Mercer students were making each other banners.
By the next year, in 2008, Mercer won the spring league tournament and qualified to play an exposition game at the ultimate world championships in Vancouver, B.C.
When Phan breathlessly recounts that game, play by play, it sounds as though he is describing the plot of a Disney movie. By the time he delivers the punch line – they won the world championship! – his words are tumbling over each other.
Today, about 80 students play for Mercer, and the team has won Seattle's fall league five years in a row. Martin Piccoli, an eighth-grade language arts and literature teacher said that ultimate has created a "momentum of positive energy" within the school. His conversations with ultimate players are productive, he said, because they're willing to take responsibility for their behavior.
From the KUOW story:
Henry and Christian say the whole experience has made them better people. Everything, from playing on a co–ed team with girls to developing confidence, and having friends at high schools all over town.
Henry and Christian are seniors at Franklin High where they co–captain the boys' Ultimate team, and they're assistant coaches at their middle school alma mater, Mercer.
It's a great story and a great sport.