BYU-Idaho athletes go professional

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Courtesy Photo  Michael Woolley and Jeremy Sellers make catches during games for their club team. Woolley said that Sellers is known for his ability to jump. According to a study done by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, ultimate is the fastest-growing sport in America.
Courtesy Photo
Michael Woolley and Jeremy Sellers make catches during games for their club team. Woolley said that Sellers is known for his ability to jump. According to a study done by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, ultimate is the fastest-growing sport in America.

Michael Woolley and Jeremy Sellers are no ordinary BYU-Idaho students.

They are professional athletes in the fastest-growing team sport in the nation: ultimate frisbee.

According to their website, The American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) is the first and largest professional ultimate frisbee league in the world. As spring nears, teams across the nation and throughout Canada are preparing for the league’s third season.

Sellers and Woolley were teammates in BYU-I’s competitive ultimate league and played for and later coached an independent ultimate club team. Today, they are teammates again, except now they play for Utah’s Salt Lake Lions.

The Lions are one of 18 professional teams in the AUDL and one of five teams in the western division.

“I have always enjoyed playing sports, but when I got involved in ultimate, that was my thing,” said Woolley, a senior studying English education. “I developed a love for the game.”

Sellers, a senior majoring in international studies, said he started playing ultimate his freshman year at BYU-I.

“After my mission I started playing in the competitive ultimate league, and I have played every semester it has been available since,” Sellers said.

Sellers said the International Olympic Committee awarded provisional recognition of the growing sport.

“Receiving this recognition is one of the first steps for ultimate becoming an Olympic sport,” Sellers said.

Woolley said the sports programs provided by BYU-I helped him in many ways to receive the opportunity to play ultimate professionally.

“The school helped me develop the know-how about the game, and after playing on a separate club team and communicating with some people I know, I heard about this opportunity,” Woolley said.

Sellers said his attendance at BYU-I helped him make connections and learn about ultimate.

“Last semester I took an international capstone class that required me to write a big paper,” Sellers said. “I wrote it about ultimate and went down to Salt Lake and interviewed one of the coaches for the Lions.”

After his interview with the Lions coach, Sellers heard about the team’s tryouts. Both Sellers and Woolley made the trip to Utah and tried out.

“I wondered what could happen,” Woolley said. “I figured it was worth a shot to try out and see how far I could actually go in this sport.”

Sellers said the process was a dual-weekend tryout in which 60 athletes competed for a position on the Lions.

“They had us perform drills and do some throwing and endurance exercises,” Sellers said. “After that, we played a scrimmage game so they could watch how we played.”

After the tryouts, the students were notified and invited to join the Lions.

Woolley said that even though BYU-I doesn’t play other colleges in sports, it allows anyone who wants to competitively play a sport a chance they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“When I started playing ultimate four years ago, I could throw decent and run and catch fairly well, but some of my other important skills were atrocious, but through BYU-Idaho sports I have been able to improve a skill I didn’t know I had, and now play professionally,” Woolley said. “We are playing sports centered on the teachings of the Church through the university, and you will never get that in any other sports program.”

Sellers said everyone should watch a game of the fastest-growing sport in the nation.

“Come watch a professional ultimate game where the competition and skill level is high,” Sellers said. “Most view Frisbee as a leisurely game, but an organized professional game of ultimate is a whole new level of athletics.”

The Lions first game is April 12 at their home field in Taylorsville, Utah. Tickets and a game schedule can be found at saltlakelions.com/get-tickets.

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