Winning It For Coach Dave: Young Silver Lake Frisbee players overcome tragedy with teamwork

Leo Decter of Silver Lake Ultimate soars above on defense in the finals.’ Courtesy Cliff Towne

Coach Dave Ambrose with player/Courtesy Cliff Towne

After falling short of winning a major Western region Frisbee tournament by only one point, the young players of Silver Lake Ultimate, the disc sports team that plays out of the Silver Lake Recreation Center and the after school program at Thomas Starr King Middle School, have been hard at work to refine their skills. But, in January, tragedy struck. Team coach David Ambrose, a Silver Lake photographer who had been working with the team for several years, suffered a debilitating stroke in January.

The team, which includes Ambrose’s son, Lukas, continued to practice, however, under the guidance of coach Cliff Towne and other team parents. In late April, Silver Lake Ultimate headed to Northern California to compete in the 2013 Spaghetti Western Middle School Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.  That same week, Ambrose, known as Coach Dave, was returning home after a long recovery and was not able to attend the tournament. But he was very much on the minds of the Silver Lake Ultimate players and its supporters.

After more than four hours of competing in 90-degree heat, Silver Lake Ultimate was locked in a close competition with a team from Berkeley.   “With the championship on the line, the team dedicated their effort to Coach Dave Ambrose and moved the disc downfield to score – and win!” according to a parent’s account of the tournament. Silver Lake Ultimate emerged victorious by one point.

In additional to the championship trophy,  Silver Lake Ultimate was also honored with the tournament The Spirit Award at the recommendation of the other teams. When the team and coaches returned home to Silver Lake, The Spaghetti Western traveling Trophy was presented to Coach Dave, who will hold on to it until next year.

Contributions are being accepted to help Coach Dave. Contact bdecter@gmail.com to donate to Dave’s Stroke Recovery Fund.

Contact ctowne@pdga.com for info about Silver Lake Rec Center’s Youth Ultimate Frisbee Summer League or other disc sports in the area.

Team picture; (L to R) Tim Smith, Kevin Fraser, Leo Decter, Alek Fraser, Sam Meier, Lukas Ambrose, Kiyoshi Nichelson, Tristan Katz, Coach Cliff Towne, Isaac Smith, Aidan Finn, Braeden Swidenbank and Sam Lindquist


  1. Our community has benfited enormously from the Ultimate Frisbee programs that take place every summer thanks to Cliff and Dave. The children have a wonderful time and Ultimate is unique in its ability to foster good sportsmanship and an infectious sense of fun amongst both the players and the parents who watch the games. We are grateful to both founders of this wonderful program and wish dave a speedy recovery. He’s been much missed and we’re thrilled he’s back.

  2. Great article, great story, great team, great sport! We are so grateful to Dave and Paul and Cliff for a brilliant first year of Ultimate for my two kids last summer (go Purple Mountain Majesty!), and we’re thrilled to be starting again this year (go Coral Silk!).

    Dave — our whole family sends our prayers and affection : )

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