Beginnings: Family & The IFT
In 1958, two brothers, Boots and John Healy, discovered a “Pluto Platter” in a store in Minneapolis. It was passed about the family until Tim and Mary Healy and several friends began tossing it around on July 4, 1958. By the end of the day, the game of Guts was invented—two teams of five players stand fourteen meters (fifteen yards) apart and throw the Frisbee (less than vertical and within reach) to be caught by the other team with one hand.
That August, Tim and Mary Healy took the disc to the family picnic in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, and played the game of Guts Frisbee, and the “Invitational” Frisbee Tournament had its beginning. The family and a few friends attended for several years. With outside interest growing, invitations were sent all over the world to “everybody who was anybody.” Next, posters and T-shirts were created to promote the event.
The fun event was dominated by the North Central team of four Healy brothers-Bob, John, Tim, and Peter, with Dick Warden, John O. Sanregret, and Jack Fenton filling in as fifth men in different years.
In 1967, the tourney started growing and George “Thor” Anderson and his team, the Foul Five, become the new winners. Ed Headrick, then executive vice president and general manager of Wham-O, was soon to change this. In 1968, “Steady” Ed took his sons, along with Steve Sewell, Jay Shelton and Stancil Johnson, and lead his team to victory. The team was known as the California Masters and repeated in 1969. The Healy family continued to run the IFT through much of the 1960s with help from Jim Boggio.
In 1969, the IFT was highlighted by the attendance of Julius T. Nachazel, a professor at Michigan Technological University. The coveted Nachazel Trophy has always been presented to the winner of the IFT and been a symbol of Guts supremacy. Goldy Norton and Jon Davis also figured greatly in the future of the tournament. Now the “International” Frisbee Tournament, Jon Davis took over as director in 1970 and saw Mel Visser bagpipe in the Foul Five as they defeated a bunch of kids known as the Highland Avenue Aces of Chicago.
The Modern Era
The Aces would elevate the sport to a new level. They would win the IFT in ’71, ’72, and ’73, defeating such classic opponents as the Berkeley Frisbee Group, HMCU of Ann Arbor, the Swedetown Sweathogs, and the Bosch Hunt-hers from Calumet.
The Bosch team became the Library Bar team that would win in ’74, ’77, and ’78. The WABX Air Aces from Detroit would win in ’75 and ’76, and parts of that team would make the Motor City team that would win in ’79 and ’80.
By this time the IFT had grown to some 60 teams and highs of 8,000 fans over a two-day period. Davis’s promotion had paid off, and the Hall of Fame was the next step.
Into the Hall, into the ’80s
Actually beginning in ’78, the Hall of Fame idea grew from the International Frisbee disc Association and Wham-O, “to honor those persons who had made a major contribution to the growth of disc sports.”
The Hall was established in Lake Linden in 1994 with the first two classes of inductees honored. Future inductees’ plaques will join them.
The sport of Guts started out the ’80s very strong. The Lightweights of Midland, Michigan, won the IFT in 1981 and there were several other large tournaments in Chicago, Marquette, Detroit, Toronto, and elsewhere.
The Foothills team of California would take the Nachazel Cup out of Michigan in 1982, only to have it taken back by Hartland Michigan’s Heartbreakers in ’83. Hartland and the Detroit-based Cupola Bandits would dominate the 1980s and Cupola would go on to win nearly every tournament around for the decade.
The game today
The IFT downsized in the 90s, with fewer than ten teams at many tourneys. Also, the five-man game becoming three-man. But the level of competition continued to be high and the sport became very popular in Japan and elsewhere. A reunion IFT in 2004 helped jump-start the sport, and more younger players have discovered Guts Frisbee.
The IFT was held in various locations in the Upper Peninsula:—Hancock, Baraga, Marquette, Lake Linden—and the Nachazel Cup, is still given to the winner each summer. It is currently held in Calumet’s Agassiz Field. Additional tournaments are held annually in the Chicago area; New London, Wisconsin; Marquette, Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The cup is now mounted on a beautiful base made by Jeff “Fro” Warren who was on the Lightweight team that won the IFT in ’81.
The Hall celebrates the players, families, and friends of this great game. We hope you enjoy it and come back to see the changes to the Hall and to the game of Guts Frisbee.