A collage of blue and red bleeds together as 25 men sprint onto the field. A shaggy-haired, microphoned emcee named Bubba dances and yells from the sidelines: "Welcome your Buffalooo Hunters!" The crowd of approximately 200 roars in approval.
Snoflake rifles a Frisbee to a heavy, bearded, athletic man known affectionately as Goon. The crowd chants "Goooooooon." Tic-tac-toe, the Frisbee moves effortlessly between seven men down the football field. They weave, pump fake, jump.
Boom. End zone.
The athletes chest bump, the crowd lunges to its feet, LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" blasts through the speakers.
It's 1-0 Hunters.
This was the scene at Orchard Park High School on Saturday evening. The Buffalo Hunters — competing in the American Ultimate Disc League, an Ultimate Frisbee league that started up this year — are Western New York's newest professional sports team.
Ultimate Frisbee is a 7-on-7 game played on a 100-yard football field. Offensive players can't run forward with the disk. They must pass it to a teammate while moving down field. There's a change in possession if the frisbee hits the ground, or if the other team intercepts it.
There's no tackling or body contract per say unless players are trying to get into position to catch the frisbee.
When longtime NFTA worker Lee Semrau saw Hunters' ownership listed for $1,000 on Craigslist, he said it was a no-brainer. Asked how long he thought about it, he replied: "I didn't."
"It wasn't a reality. It was like ‘if I win the lottery, I'll buy the Sabres,'" Semrau said. "Every sports fan wants to be involved with a pro team. Now I actually have my own pro team. It's kind of surreal."
His wife wasn't happy with the decision. She hates sports. But now she loves the Hunters and comes to every game. Why is that? Well, Ultimate Frisbee is just different, says the team's player-coach, Sean Donnellan.
"It's the most entertaining sport that's out there. I really do believe that," Donnellan said. "The best play in a football game is that 80-yard pass for a touchdown, you have that at any moment on the ultimate field. Your team is looking to go deep. It's super entertaining. It's a fan's game."
There's more than the entertainment factor in it for the fans. Individual game tickets are just $6, and the players offer free clinics for an hour before every home game so anyone can learn how to play. The Hunters aim to do something bigger than the game.
Hence their name. When Semrau started the team, he knew he wanted to use it to support charity, so he got in touch with Hunter's Hope — Jim and Jill Kelly's organization named after their late son, Hunter.
The organization's goal is to save children from Krabbe Disease and other Leukodystrophies. Ten percent of all funds raised by the Hunters goes to Hunter's Hope.
"I wish people would give it a chance," Semrau said. "We'd even let people in for free to give it a chance. Once people see it, most like it. Our concessions are so reasonable, we play at a beautiful field. We want to make as much money for the community and for Hunter's Hope as we can. We're committed to Hunter's Hope and we want to grow this sport in Buffalo."
Donnellan, of Rochester, sports a green Hunter's Hope wristband during the games. He said he aims to have an ultimate league set up for kids in Buffalo next spring. Donnellan has coached youth ultimate teams for seven years, starting five teams in the process.
While the player-coach is 28, the Hunters range in age from 18 to 32, and in hometown from Buffalo to Pittsburgh. Mitch Steiner, who played three sports at Springville High School, is one of the Hunters' leading scorers. He's also the captain of UB's Ultimate Frisbee club team.
"It's a terrific experience to do something you love in front of people who enjoy watching," Steiner said. "I think people will be surprised by the amount of athleticism. A lot of people think it's people tossing a Frisbee on the beach, but it's really not like that. It's big, athletic people making big, athletic plays all over the field, laying out, jumping huge."
Those big, athletic people don't get the star treatment, however. They travel to every game, either driving on their own or taking 12-passenger vans.
Their salary? A minimum of $50 for the year. They also receive travel and food allowances.
"These players do it for the love of the game," Semrau said. "They sure aren't in it for the money. We're eventually planning on paying our players a lot better."
For now, though, Semrau says: "We're on a real strict, tight budget. We're just trying to survive every home game."
While they're just scraping by, Semrau and Donnellan both emphatically say the Hunters will be around again next year. That news couldn't sound sweeter to their fans, who believe they've found Buffalo's hidden secret.
"The league is about opening up a sport that has been around since the '60s and doing so in a way a traditional fan can make those connections, and specifically enjoy something they didn't even know was going on," said Brent Steepe, the AUDL's Vice President of Marketing.
Steepe joined the league in its early stages. After playing recreationally in college, Josh Moore started forming the AUDL in 2009.
"I really started seeing the spectator value for the sport," said Moore, who is the league's commissioner. "I just saw a big opportunity, being that there are about five million people who play annually in the country and there wasn't a professional league to showcase that."
Moore said the league is only going to get bigger. Eight more teams are signed up for the 2013 season (which will double the league's size), and teams on the West Coast and South plan on joining in the 2014 season.
With Saturday's 26-21 defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Alley Cats, the Hunters fell to 0-9 this year. Donnellan said their lack of practice (the furthest players live eight hours apart) is what's really hampered the team.
The Hunters have seven games remaining, including four home games at Orchard Park.
They may have no wins and few fans to date, but those few fans, they love their Hunters. They swear Buffalo will, too, if it gives the team a shot.