Sas Peters at Top of His Ultimate Game
Sas Peters of Amagansett, who has extended the competitive career of Ultimate Disc players many years by founding three divisions for men and women — grand masters (over-40), great grand masters (over-50), and legends (over-60) — won a silver medal recently, as a member of Surly, a great grand masters team, in the national Ultimate championships in Sarasota, Fla.
Surly, he said during a conversation the other day at The Star, was a Minneapolis-based team, “with a few ringers from out of state.”
Surly and the Boston-based Death or Glory, whose players, Peters said, were six-time national champs earlier in their careers, locked horns in Sarasota.
“We beat them 15-11 the first time out, but in the final on Sunday, unfortunately, they beat us 15-13. It could have gone either way, but we made some throwing errors and they converted.” (In Ultimate, a thrown disc that hits the ground results in a turnover.)
“There were several great teams there, but Death or Glory was really amazing.”
The gold medalists had several ringers too, New Yorkers who formerly played with Peters’s team. “What can I say?” he said, with a smile. “I’m a ringer too.”
All summer long he had played “against 20-year-olds,” the 62-year-old Peters said when asked how he was able to continue playing in the younger divisions. “I ride a stationary bike, lift weights, do plyometrics, the German sprint drills. That’s the reason, by the way, that East Germany, a tiny country, was able to dominate in the sprints for years. The drills involve skipping, hopping, jumping, and sprinting. They enable us old white guys to jump three feet in the air and to sprint like 20-year-olds.”
“It’s so important that we keep it up, not only for our bodies, but also for our brains. Aging athletes have an advantage over their peers who are sedentary. . . . Most of the games last an hour and a half to two hours, and in these tournaments you play three games a day, seven on a team, playing offense and defense.”
The multi-division national tournament in Sarasota — Peters’s team won the great grand masters division last year — was, he said, the season’s penultimate one, the Turkey Bowl in Bridgeport, Conn., over the Thanksgiving weekend being the last.
When told that the silver medal he wore to the interview looked like gold in the office’s light, Peters said, “I wish it was.”
He would continue, he said, to “break barriers” insofar as extending the competitive lives of Ultimate Disc aficionados. “I’m working with U.S.A. Ultimate to include a demonstration legends [over-60] division in the national championships next year. Everybody wants to play this [non-refereed] sport [whose players acknowledge their fouls] — we need this. We don’t slam each other into the ground or cavort ridiculously after we score the way they do in football. . . .”
Every year, the week before Memorial Day, Peters, who has won numerous national and international titles, oversees an Ultimate Disc tournament for the three older divisions he founded on the John M. Marshall Elementary School fields. “This was its 19th year,” he said. Play in all of the aforementioned divisions “began here, in East Hampton,” he said. “East Hampton’s where it all began. . . . Ultimate is the fastest-growing team sport there is, and East Hampton is at the center of its growth. We held the first grand masters tournament here 15 years ago, and now there are world championship and national championship tournaments for these teams.”
Ultimate has not been Peters’s only sport: Trained by Andre de Leyer, Joe Fargis, and Conrad Homfeld — the latter two Olympian medalists — he rode horses competitively for a decade when he was younger, he said, on the Northeast jumper circuit.
“I still ride, on a sweet old guy, a paint named Merlin, at Rita’s Stables in Montauk. He has one blue and one yellow eye. We gallop on the beach at Ditch Plains late in the late afternoon light, which is spectacular.”