Humans of Ultimate - Casey Dixon and the Spirit Trophies

May 1, 2020 at 8:38am

Humans of Ultimate is a new initiative at MODS to highlight key spirit leaders in our community who value spirit of the game, integrity, sportsmanship and fun above winning and rivalry. Without these amazing pieces of our community and their leadership our sport and organization wouldn't be where they are today!

“This isn’t curling!”

Written by Corey Draper - Contributions from Casey Dixon - Edited by Sean Seywright

Trophies and awards play a part in all sports and Ultimate is no different. A deep dive into the history of MODS trophies reveals some curious traditions and a remarkable piece that has to be seen to be appreciated. Similar to many recent movie and tv show conventions we’ll start in the middle and work our way back to the beginning before wrapping things up in the present.

2008 was the first summer that I was employed by MODS and running the leagues and Championship Weekend. At that time our end of summer tradition was still growing towards its peak number of teams and the playoff weekend was a massive event with close to 200 teams participating.

Each night of the league had its own trophy; Monday League was a plate while the Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday leagues had more traditional cups. The Wednesday trophy in particular had a fairly famous (within MODS) shot of a team photo featuring a small baby sitting in the bowl. Each divisional winner in that era received a small plaque for their division and night and then had their team name, division and year added to the nightly trophy. It was a fairly popular way to do it and fairly convenient to hand out and collect all the team photos on site that weekend.

Around that time MODS was looking for ways to improve and promote spirit. There wasn’t a spirit trophy in circulation at the time and MODS decided that we wanted to make a bold statement. The idea was to make the Spirit Trophy stand out above the league championship trophies. We decided to go big and knew we weren’t going to find what we wanted in a trophy catalog. Ultimate already had a history of strange trophies, from Ultimate Canada’s national titles (the toaster) to the prize for winning the “Bo-Down” May long tournament in Regina. The Regina trophy was a car… it was a beater but it was a car. One of those cars even made it back to Winnipeg the year after it was won. With that in mind we knew the Spirit Trophy needed to be unique and impressive. Given that we had just recently invested in 4 trophies we also knew how expensive it would be if we went the traditional route.

Enter Casey Dixon... MODS Lifetime Member, major contributor to the local disc golf scene and a former teammate of mine. MODS approached Casey about creating the new trophy, we knew he had the skills and just as importantly the connection and passion for our sport and what the trophy represented. Casey came back with a great idea, we just needed to cover the material costs and of course some money for Casey’s considerable time and talents on the project. The man who gave Winnipeg it’s first permanent Disc Golf course (Happyland) delivered on his vision and the result was spectacular.

The Spirit Trophy towered over our other trophies; beautiful stained dark wood made up the substantial base. But it was the top that set it apart. Instead of a “bowl” or “cup” the top was a piece of felt made perfectly to look like the corner of a lined Ultimate field. In the middle 7 players in a circle with their hand on a small white plastic disc. A trophy truly worthy of the title it represented.

In 2013 the MODS board voted to rename the MODS Spirit Trophy as the “Scott “Big Daddy” Schinkel Memorial Trophy”. The community had lost Scott that year and it was a fitting tribute as no one embodied or championed Spirit of the Game in MODS quite like Scott did. At the 2013 – 25th Anniversary Gala Event the Spirit Trophy was on display wearing Scott’s signature tournament hat.

The Gala was the perfect opportunity to look back; those trophies I spoke weren’t always in place so what was?

That answer was revealed my first winter working for MODS. I was spending a day re-organizing the original MODS storage space on Higgins. The day was not what I had hoped for. Instead of boxes of memories and a bunch of useful equipment I mainly found broken unusable items and box after box of paper waivers. Near the back behind a broken BBQ I did find a few gems. First was a giant wicker sombrero style hat covered in what can only be described as “flare” (a bunch of buttons and pins). It was rumored to be some type of Spirit prize from well before my time, but no one could confirm for sure. The original MODS trophy was a giant plaque with a vintage disc mounted in the middle. The names of the original championship teams from 1988 to the early 2000’s was displayed. But clearly, we had outgrown this trophy as we at that point had more champions in one summer then that trophy had room to display. Lastly, I found a short-lived MODS artifact. It was a wooden spirit trophy with the word spirit carved into a piece of wood. Only a couple of years were displayed and clearly the whole thing had been abandoned for quite a while.

Displaying the trophies was always a challenge. Aside from Championship Weekend, Captains Meetings and the AGM there weren’t a lot of opportunities for them to be seen. MODS took the opportunity to engage Casey again in a big way. First, we realized that as much as we liked our league championship trophies the cost of adding to the bases to allow more names was not worth the expense. Casey was contracted to create 4 large trophies similar in size to the Spirit Trophy. Not as fancy or unique but a practical way to allow the continued expansion of winners to be added from year to year. At that same time Casey took on an even bigger project. He created a fabulous massive display case for these trophies. The case and the trophies were initially displayed at a sponsors on Taylor Ave for a couple of years before moving to the Tap Room of MODS Sponsor – Torque Brewing. This was an amazing location to view these trophies, but the reality was we were just taking up too much space in their Tap Room.

For now, the MODS trophies and case are at our Sport MB storage downtown as we look for a long-term solution to house these items.

What happened to the plaques you asked? The plaques were quite popular with most teams but at the end of the day several teams never collected theirs. When we transitioned away from the Championship Weekend format to playing the summer league playoffs on their weeknights the distribution became very difficult. The decision was made to discontinue them. As MODS looks ahead to our next season, we know that we identified a need to increase league. What would you like to see brought in as new options? If you have any ideas drop Corey or Sean in the MODS office a message.

What year did you start playing Ultimate and how did you get involved?

A: I started playing Ultimate in 1993, after being convinced to try it by a friend, Richard Schultz. The team was Disc Dogs, and It was the first team sport I had ever played!

Same for Disc Golf?

A: I started playing Disc Golf in 1995, I think, playing object courses at Bruce Park and near Roseisle on John Hudson’s property, which included parts of the Birch Ski Area. 

How did you get involved with making trophies?

A: I have been a handy guy all my life, and when the Pumpkin Creek Classic was running out at John Hudson’s, I figured the winner should receive something, so I made trophies out of old golf discs for the top male and female player. 

    I started my picture framing company in 1992, so I had the shop and tools to create trophies “in house”.

Any interesting tid bits or facts about the MODS Spirit Trophy?

A: The spirit trophy was a lot of fun to make, partly because the whole trophy was my creation, but also because of what it represented to the league, and how much spirit factored into my continued participation, 19 years in total. The orange cones were the hardest things to make! The figures on top making the spirit circle were modified from curling trophies. 

What did Spirit of the Game mean to you during your playing days?

A: People I have played against and with might have reason to doubt my spirit on occasion, as I often got very wrapped up in the game, but Ultimate, for me, was 50% game, 50% after game. I loved meeting my team for pizza and beer, where being sweaty and all dressed alike added to the camaraderie. My favourite after game experiences were from 1993-1996, when the entire league converged at the Pembina Hotel, and mingled as one big, fun crowd! I made many new friends that way. 

How does or can Spirit of the Game be incorporated into Disc Golf?

A: There is an inherent level of spirit in disc golf, in that every good shot you make is complimented, and a poor shot might have your playing partners saying things like “well, I feel like the wind came up a bit there. Can I help you fish your disc out of that culvert?”  Being an individual sport, it’s hard to help a person who gets down on themselves, though (ask me how I know!).

Please list important teams and events you participated in for Ultimate & Disc Golf.

A: The only big tournament I went to was the 2002 World Ultimate Club Championships in Hawaii. That was a great trip! 

    I competed in many Disc Golf tournaments, with varying results, in several provinces and six states, but my greatest joy was simply travelling and playing new courses. Every course has its own personality, and it was fun to discover them with like-minded friends. 

      I’ll add that I’m proud to have been able to secure the grants to create Happyland, and that MODS had to pay almost nothing for its creation. I’m also proud, while I was on the MODS board, of leading the charge to create the Winnipeg Master’s League, which debuted in 2000 with 6 teams. I do wish it had flourished more, but it seems the older we get, the more responsibilities keep us from our leisure activities, thus limiting participation in a 30+ league. 

What year was the Happyland Disc Golf Course build done?

A: October 11, 2001

Additional Info

  • MODS Lifetime Member
  • Designed the "Golden Boy laying out" disc (which is also part of the ATSA PADLIN shirt design above)
  • Hosted indoor mini disc golf tournaments to rave reviews