The kids called him Mr. Awesome Cool Man — a telling title for Todd Brodeur, a world champion Frisbee player who taught students at Bergen Meadow and Bergen Valley elementary schools the art of Frisbee.
Playing with a Frisbee is a wonderful sport, Brodeur told students at an assembly at Bergen Meadow recently. Brodeur spent four days at the school as part of the schools’ artist-in-residence program.
“You can stay active,” he said. “You can keep your heart beating and lungs breathing.”
Brodeur, whose T-shirt bore the name the “World Class Frisbee Shows,” said he has Frisbee friends all over the world, and the sport doesn’t cost much. People can play with Frisbees by themselves or in groups.
“It’s just the perfect sport,” he said. “I’ve been obsessed with Frisbees for 30 years. I like to share my passion for the sport.”
Brodeur, who has been competing since 1983 and won the world freestyle championship in 2004 and 2006, demonstrated Frisbee tricks from the simple to the complex, showing that much more can be done with a Frisbee than simply throwing it across the room. The children applauded and showed their amazement at Brodeur’s prowess.
Then it was the kids’ turn.
In physical education classes, he showed students how to warm up, moving around and strengthening muscles with a Frisbee. Then he showed them simple tricks from tossing a Frisbee under a leg and catching it to circling it overhead and behind the back.
He asked each student to try a trick three or four times before moving on to something more difficult.
When one student said she couldn’t do a trick, Brodeur gently told her it wasn’t that she couldn’t do it — she just hadn’t mastered the skill yet. He emphasized that it took many, many hours of practice to learn the tricks and to eventually become a world champion.
The sound of hands clapping, Frisbees dropping and children counting out tricks filled the Bergen Meadow gymnasium.
First-grader Evan Brown thought some of the first tricks were pretty easy, but they became more challenging.
One student tried a trick and said, “I got it!” but as the Frisbee fell, she added, “No, I don’t.”
Six-year-old Mandy Holyfield said she liked trying the Frisbee tricks because it was fun. She said her older brother had class with Brodeur the day before, so he could help her practice.
First-grader Carson King gave Brodeur’s presentation and the class two thumbs up.
“(What Brodeur can do) is like magic,” he said.
Physical education teacher Rob Wright was pleased to have Brodeur in his classes.
“It’s not every day a world champion comes to the school,” Wright said. Having a Frisbee champion at the schools showed the children that there are many sports at which they can excel.
Wright said the kids all grade levels have been fascinated and involved in Brodeur’s classes.
“I haven’t had one kid sit out or become bored,” Wright said.