Chloe Rowse, a co-owner of Portland Rising, talks to prospective players during a team tryout in January. The Rising announced its 27-woman roster earlier this week and will begin its first Premier Ultimate League season on April 11 in Nashville. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

For three months, a dedicated group of women has been working toward the launch of Portland Rising, an expansion franchise in the Premier Ultimate League.

This week, fans got involved. What quickly became apparent is why the PUL chose Portland over larger cities such as Toronto and San Diego.

Within hours of announcing its 27-women roster on Monday, the Rising sold out a Sponsor-A-Player fundraiser that put four jerseys of each player on every PUL team up for sale at $150 each. That’s 108 jerseys worth $16,200. Subtracting production and shipping costs, roughly 70 percent of that money will go toward Portland Rising’s operational expenses.

Of the league’s 12 franchises, Portland was first to sell out.

“I was not surprised at all,” said Mohdis Baker, who learned the sport at Deering High and continued at Bates College. “Our community is so passionate about Ultimate.”

Baker, 27, works as a scientist at Idexx and has coached the sport at Bates since her 2014 graduation. She advanced through three rounds of tryouts from an initial group of more than 100 to make the Rising’s final roster.

The sport of Ultimate is played between teams of seven on a field 70 meters long. The object is to pass a flying disc from player to player until reaching the opposing end zone. Physical contact is not allowed and players police themselves under a policy known as Spirit of the Game.

The Rising will play a five-game regular season beginning April 11 in Nashville, Tennessee. Season tickets ($30) for three home games went on sale this week. Single-game tickets are available for $12 in advance or $15 at the gate.

Portland is scheduled to play two games at Fitzpatrick Stadium, against the Raleigh Radiance on May 2 and the Washington DC Shadow on May 17. After a game in New York City on May 30, the Rising wrap up the regular season with a June 6 game against the Columbus (Ohio) Pride that may be played in Boston.

If so, the team will provide fan buses from Portland.

Fifteen players live in Massachusetts and have been making the trip up to Portland each weekend for practice. Eleven live in Maine. Lisi Lohre, a graduate student at the University of Vermont, has the longest commute.

Evie Clement, a 21-year-old student at the University of Maine who grew up in Falmouth, is the team’s youngest player. She expressed hope that, “we can get fans beyond the frisbee community and expose the sport.”

She said her parents purchased one of her No. 12 jerseys, as did her aunt and uncle. Her brothers split the cost of a third, but she doesn’t know who bought the fourth.

“All my college friends were saying, ‘Oh, I’d love one of those jerseys but, oh, I’m broke,'” she said.

Kelley Kirwin, at 33 the oldest player on the roster, teaches physical education and health at Yarmouth’s Harrison Middle School. She grew up in Caribou and played at UMaine-Farmington.

“I know two of the people who bought my jerseys, but I would love to find out the other two, because I want to send thank you cards,” she said. “I had thought that the (eight) teams that had been around the prior year would have sold out faster, but the people around here – the fans – are very excited.”

Although the active roster for each game is limited to 21, all 27 players will receive a league-mandated minimum of $40 per game. Rising co-owners Maddie Purcell and Chloe Rowse (the latter is also on the playing roster) said they hope to raise pay more, assuming robust ticket and merchandise sales.

“If you had asked me when I was younger if becoming a professional athlete was something I would do in my lifetime, I don’t think I would have said yes,” Kirwin said. “It’s not something I thought would be possible, especially at my age now. So it feels kind of surreal now.”

Kirwin and Baker are also the only two players on the team who are married, although another is engaged.

“I feel like young boys have had the Red Claws and the Mariners to look up to in Portland,” Baker said. “Now, finally, young girls can look on the field and see professional athletes that they can aspire to be like one day.”


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