The most successful Utah sports teams you may have never heard of
Jun 26, 2023, 7:53 AM | Updated: 7:56 am
(Credit: Salt Lake Shred)
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is home to more than just the Jazz and the Bees. Twelve professional and semi-professional teams currently play in the beehive state. Here are the teams you may not know.
Salt Lake Shred
The Salt Lake Shred is a professional men’s ultimate frisbee team.
Founded last year, the team took second in their divisional championships. This season, they’re 8-0.
“We’re the only undefeated team in the west, and if we win one more game of our next four, then we’re guaranteed a spot in the finals of the Western Division,” said Head Coach, Bryce Merrill.
The Shred are part of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), which is home to 24 professional teams throughout the country.
“This is the top level of ultimate frisbee in the world,” said Joel Dehlin, a founder of the team.
Made up of college and professional players, the team has high aspirations to make it to the league championships this year.
More importantly, the team looks to build up the community around them.
“We are trying to reinvest everything we can into youth programs,” said Merrill, “so a lot of our emphasis is off the field on community building and building up the sport here in Utah.”
The Shred’s next home game is against the Portland Nitro on July 7 at the Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
Utah Wild Ultimate
The Utah Wild is a professional women’s ultimate frisbee team founded in 2019.
They compete in the Western Ultimate League among eight other professional teams.
Founded right before the Covid pandemic, they weren’t able to participate in any tournaments for several years.
“The spring of 2022 was our first real regular season,” said Erica Bindas, president of the board and co-founder of the Utah Wild Ultimate.
Their 2023 season ended earlier this month with the team playing in the championship weekend and placing fourth.
Being one of few professional women’s sports teams in the state, Bindas said the team is proud to be part of the group.
“It’s really exciting to be part of a larger woman’s sporting movement right now.”
Players consist of professionals from Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado.
The Utah Wild is also a non-profit organization based on community outreach.
“Any profits we have go back into the players and back into the community,” explained Bindas. “We believe firmly that as we grow, our community should also grow.”
The Wild’s 2024 season will begin again in March.
The Utah Falconz is a professional women’s football team that is part of the National Football Conference.
They have a winning 77-10 record over eight years and claimed the national championship title in both 2016 and 2017.
Their most recent achievement includes becoming 2022 Pacific Conference Champions.
The Falconz 2023 ended with a 6-1 record with their only loss to the San Diego Rebellion.
Home games are played at Cottonwood High School. But they are in the running for a potential multi-women sports stadium at the Bees stadium after they move to Daybreak.
Their 2024 season will begin again in April.
The Utah Royals is an American women’s professional soccer club and an affiliate team with Real Salt Lake.
Founded in November of 2017 as an expansion club, the team played in the National Women’s Soccer League from 2018 to 2020.
The Royals have not played since 2020 but set to return in 2024.
The Utah Warriors are a professional rugby union team and one of seven founding members of Major League Rugby, which is the top-level rugby union in America and Canada.
Now, the league consists of 13 teams and 2 conferences.
Currently fourth in the Western Conference, the Warriors ended their season with a win against the New York Ironworkers 43-33.
They play their home games at Zions Bank Stadium and will begin their 2024 season in February.
The Real Monarchs is a professional soccer club playing in a third-division league of American soccer, called the MLS Next Pro.
Owned by Real Salt Lake, the Monarchs also serves as the reserve team for the Lions.
So far in 2023, the team is 5-9.
The Monarchs’ season will extend through September.
The Ogden Raptors are an independent professional baseball team celebrating 30 years in the spotrt.
Starting as the Ogden Lobsters in 1900, the old-school minor league team became the Raptors in 1977.
They were affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1996-2002 and then the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2003-2020.
Now, the Raptors are independent and play in the Pioneer League which is a Major League Baseball partner league.
Claiming the “Best Ballpark View in the World,” the team prides itself on a strong fan base and rich history.
“We have led the league in attendance every year since 1997,” said Dave Baggott, the current owner of the Ogden Raptors.
Now as independents, the Raptors players are being scouted by several MLB teams. This is an aspect of the program that Baggot is excited for.
“We control our own destiny and the way our team is put together.”
Overall the team is 16-10 this season and has a game nearly every night through September.
The Utah Vipers (formerly known as the Black Mamba) is a competitive Division 1 women’s rugby team in the Rocky Mountain Rugby Football Union (RMR).
Established in 2013, the team currently competes at Premier Indoor Soccer in Salt Lake City.
If accepted, the Vipers would have a new home stadium along with the Falconz and Wild Ultimate at the multi-women’s sports facility at the old Bees stadium.
Each team is filled with talent and understand the effort it takes to be successful.
To be a smaller professional team, Bryce Merrill summarizes that each player, leader, and coach has to work hard to build a base and continue to play the sport they love.
“Nothing is given, everything has to be earned.”
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