There are so many places in this country that have huge Disc Golf presences that I had no idea about until I started this blog. One of the more recent places I found out from a friend of mine was in Cincinnati, OH. More specifically, The Nati Disc Golf shop was a place he wanted me to check out. So, I looked them up and got the chance to talk to Jason Kerl who is one of two workers for this store. He has some awesome things to describe about Ohio Disc Golf and especially Cincinnati. Give it a read and enjoy!
So, a little bit about Jason, his career started with Disc Golf some time ago. He started his journey when he was 11 years old as he says, “about 30 years ago my family reunion was at a Disc Golf course.” The course is now one of his favorites which is “Lincoln Ridge in Independence, KY.” From that point on he played there and played in rec for a long time and just hung out with friends. But, in 2004 “I joined my local club and in 2005 I played in my first tournament.” Which made him love the sport even more and continue his passion with the game. The inspiration for continuing to play comes easy for Jason, “it comes form the love of the game, I love the environment, and I love volunteering.” As you can see, he has his heart in the sport and lives and breathes it. Although, he gave an example of someone he wants to emulate as well. He told me “I enjoy Eric Oakley’s demeanor, always positive, super upbeat about the sport and enjoys meeting new people.” I could not agree more; Eric’s outlook and demeanor are something I want more of the Disc Golf community to have and show. So, Jason shows that through his play and you can tell he means it through his voice and conversation.
The Nati, who is it and what does it mean? When I heard the name I instantly went to the idea of the national championship. But no, it is a pro shop in Cincinnati, OH where Jason helps run it alongside his friend Adam Jones. The shop itself “runs about 26 events a year and 5-7 of them are PDGA events.” Which is impressive for a shop no matter where you are. But, the big-ticket item is that “last year we ran the Idlewild Open and are running it again this year.” These guys are a shop in Ohio and are now one of the major sponsors are TD’s of an DGPT event. If that is not something to strive for I don’t know what is. Looking ahead to 2018, there is a lot coming from The Nati. To start off, Jason said, “a simple answer is that we are going to try and grow the sport and run better events.” Which is something you like to hear from a pro shop. He later went on to say, “we are trying to add an AM field and two more courses.” I think adding an AM side to the Idlewild but that takes a lot of effort and people power. Jason explained that the Idlewild itself “takes 70 volunteers there almost every day.” So, adding another part to the tournament would make things a lot bigger and more hectic. But, Jason wants to see if it can be done and is working out some kinks within the process. He explained that “there is only two of us at the shop, we are just trying to make more clinics for kids and make our tournaments bigger and better.” I think that they can do it, I mean, if they can run the Idlewild I think they can run anything in their path.
The questions regarding the interviewee’s favorite disc and course are usually my favorite. Simply because I like knowing what different people throw and where they throw. There are so many options to choose from it is endless what someone could say. Jason’s choices were great and spoke to his character as well. To start, by talking to Jason I could tell he was an old school kind of guy, so when he said, “my favorite discs are the Rhyno, old school champion cobra, and the Valkyrie.” Those are some classic discs and a champion cobra is hard to come by, but, he buys them up when he can, “perks of owning a shop” as he says. The courses he describes sound amazing and I wish I lived closer to the mid-west. The first course he told me about was “Lincoln Ridge in Independence, KY. Anybody can play there, you can shoot lights out or hit every tree but still walk out with a smile on your face.” That is a course that I want to play, somewhere that is fun, but I will not get mad at a bad day. The next course was “The Redwood Curtain in Arcata, CA at Humboldt State University, playing amongst the trees is something else.” I have driven past this course many times and have never had the chance to actually play, but I can only imagine what it is like playing amongst those big Red Woods.
We all try and grow the sport one way or another and Jason and The Nati are no different. Jason has a love for the game and want to see it grow. So, to do that, he told me “got to go young, get into a lot of schools. As well as scout troops and building courses at schools too.” Getting into schools and reaching a younger audience is a pattern that I like seeing amongst shops and professionals alike. But, not only does Jason want to reach a younger crowd he also wants to “reach out to the outdoorsy and older crowd.” He tries to reach out to as many groups as he can and puts out different events as well. Along of the tournaments he runs, he runs fun games and events at his local course as well. one of the best ones he told me was “a roc vs buzz accuracy challenge, we set up hula hoops across a line and you have to throw through them into a basket. It is a ton of fun.” There are more events like this one, but, the main idea behind them as Jason says is “to try and do some things that aren’t so serious and just to have a good time.” I think that is a great mentality, there are often too many times were people take the game too seriously and not out to have fun. There needs to be a balance and I think Jason is doing just that.
Advice comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Jason’s advice is great, and I think touches on something that people even still need to realize. To start, Jason told me “master the slower speed disc before you master the higher speed disc. Don’t throw too fast, I see too many bosses, too many destroyers, and too many nukes.” Him owning a shop gives him the chance to see what people buy and why they do it. So, seeing all these new players buying these high speed or complicated drivers is something hard to see. Building your arm speed and gaining that form is the best thing you can do, and I wish someone had told me that when I started. The last piece of advice he had was “watch videos for tips, learn grip, and learn the little things.” The little things are the most important, things like footwork, grip, reach back. All things that can take your game to the next level if taken care of early.
Just like everyone else, I want Jason to be able to get any last words out before the article is over. Jason had a simple answer but nonetheless it was important. Jason said “Come visit Cincinnati and The Nati, we have a lot of Disc Golf around here that people do not realize. It is more than just the Idlewild! As well as watch out for our Nati sponsored players throughout 2018.”
I would like to thank Jason Kerl for taking the time out of his day to let me ask him some questions and for answering my questions as well. If you would like to know more about The Nati you can find out more at https://www.thenatidiscgolf.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thenatidiscgolf/ . Look out for them and more from me coming soon!
Picture credit goes to Jason Kerl