Dallas Roughnecks Look to Win Ultimate Disc Championship

Carson Wilder with the Dallas Roughnecks // photos Patrick Green

Did you know Plano is home to a professional team playing a sport that combines the athleticism, skill, speed and scoring of football with the movement of basketball and soccer?

Well, welcome to ultimate disc – or ultimate frisbee – a sport full of jaw-dropping athletic plays.

See an offensive player leap high into the air over a defender to secure a disc for a score. Or witness the blend of athleticism, speed and timing when a receiver and thrower connect on a long-range play, a sequence often culminating with a spectacular diving catch by a receiver after a long run, drawing oohs, ahs and cheers from the crowd.

Meet the Dallas Roughnecks, a member of the 21-team American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) who play their home games at John Paul II High School in Plano.

Jake Reinhardt with the Dallas Roughnecks // photos Patrick Green
Jake Reinhardt with the Dallas Roughnecks // photos Patrick Green

Founded in 2015, the Roughnecks went undefeated and were league champions their first season in 2016. They have been in the AUDL Playoffs each of their three seasons and lost last season in the championship game to the Madison Rascals from Wisconsin.

This weekend, the Roughnecks renew their push for a second title with a trip to Raleigh, N.C. for the AUDL South Division Championship, facing the Flyers team that has defeated them the previous two occasions in 2019.

“Raleigh was the team to beat, I guess, coming into the year,” Roughnecks captain Dan Emmons said. “We’ve matched up against them three times. They’ve beat us two of those three, so we’re the underdog right now. We fight a little bit better whenever we’ve got a chip on our shoulder. I think we feel like we have something to prove.”

Dalton Smith
Dalton Smith

Between April and July, the AUDL plays on a field 53 1/3 yards wide and 80 yards long with 20-yard end zones. Games feature four 12-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime.

And for those who classify ultimate as merely a niche sport, Roughnecks second-year coach Wes Nemec begs to differ.

“It’s a really exciting game. It’s a little bit off the beaten path, so it’s a little more interesting to see something that you don’t see too often,” Wes said.

“It’s got everything. It’s got really explosive plays, very athletic players, a lot of hand-eye coordination. Throwing a disc is not intuitive. It’s not a normal motion that people do. It’s a skill that you have to build up and refine over a long period of time. The throwing skill among these players at the professional level is insane. It’s almost unbelievable sometimes to see what they can do with a frisbee.”

Henry Furuta // photo Justin Kaplan
Henry Furuta // photo Justin Kaplan

AUDL players and coaches are professionals who receive a small salary from the league, but don’t play for the money, and most also hold full-time jobs. Dan Emmons is a manager of partner relationships for Brinks Home Security while Wes Nemec works on the logistical side for General Motors providing dealership support.

The home portion of the Roughnecks’ season has concluded, but their playoff game airs on Stadium this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Check it out. Who knows? You just might become an instant fan.

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