Barbara Stevens & Matthew Stevens

Mother/Son Duo take on New York Empire Frisbee

Photography by ChiChi Ubina

Barbara Stevens

My family (maiden name Fuchella) has been in Byram/Greenwich since the early 1900’s. I spent most of my summers at Byram Shore and on the water with my four sisters. I went to the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in NYC for my two year degree, then graduated from Pace University. My husband Paul and I both attended New Lebanon, Western Jr. High (at the time not a middle school) and Greenwich High School.

I started my career with Saks Fifth Avenue, but then decided to work in Greenwich while I finished college. That is when I started with Rand Insurance in Riverside (1982) and am still here, as President, under the new entity of Cross Insurance-Greenwich.

My husband, Paul and I have been married 42 years and we have two children,  Matthew and Melissa. They both attended New Lebanon and Western Middle School.  Matthew graduated from Greenwich High School and Melissa graduated from Cheshire Academy. Matthew is working in the family business of real estate/property management and Melissa does charter fishing out of the Gulf in Louisiana.  We ALL work with Empire, including Matthew’s fiancé Victoria, who handles social media/marketing and so many other things.  To say we all follow our passions is an understatement.

I got involved in Ultimate as a “Mom” and fan. I watched Matthew’s games in college and then him playing with the Empire since it started in 2013. At the end of the 2017 season, Matthew approached us to take over the majority ownership of the Empire and to run it. Today, it is a successful team in so many ways, on the field and off. It has been challenging and fun and we strive to get better every game, every season. Fun facts: NY Empire has won three of the last four Championships and had the last four MVP’s of the league… We are pleased with our success and our goal is to continue with our philosophies and grow the sport of Ultimate Frisbee and the fan base.

The night we decided to give it a go, Matthew and I put up poster sized sticky notes in an unused bedroom and started writing down what we knew we’d have to do, what we thought we’d have to do and then began with one thing at a time: players, coaches, training, trainers, logistics, venues, ticket sales, streaming, social media, insurance, contracts, vendors, merchandise…the list went on and on and many items have been added since.

Matthew played through the end of last season and has been an excellent player/goal scorer. It was great watching him and although I miss him on the field as a player, he has taken on the role of General Manager and is doing a great job. As everyone knows, you can only put a great team on the field, if you have the support staff in the background making it all happen.

NY Empire has 30 players on the team, and 20 can be rostered for a game. There are 7 players on the field for each team for every point. Ultimate frisbee is a fast-paced, true team sport as you cannot run with the disc. Passing is required to get the Frisbee into the end-zone to score. Players normally range from 18 to about 35 years old. You need both speed and agility as well as a the true understanding of the game. One can liken it to a chess match, to be able to see plays formulating before they actually happen. If one doesn’t start out playing Ultimate Frisbee, many will cross over from track/soccer or other sports. Fans love the game because it has a lot of exciting plays and the players are very athletic. Not only is the game entertaining, but we also put on a fun, family-friendly game day experience.

You can find information about us thru social media, our website and You Tube. We keep our price points relatively low for a professional sport and have a food truck, beer vendor and an ice cream truck for the fans to enjoy. Spectators love the game, the experience and the ability to mingle with the players afterwards, getting photos with them, and discs signed. It’s just good fun.

For those that cannot attend our games, there is a subscription based app where all games in the UFA (Ultimate Frisbee Association) can be seen.
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