Ultimate At All Ages: Teaching Numbers with “Fast Count!”

Long time Breeze supporter and season ticket holder Michael Hechter recently published “Fast Count!”, an illustrated board book that teaches toddlers how to count. Here’s his story of how the book came to be.

Michael’s son Issac enjoying “Fast Count!”

Once Upon A Time,

In the fall of 2014 I became a first-time father. Isaac, now 2 years old, is the offspring of two ultimate-playing parents who met while playing ultimate. My wife Rachel and I still play in the local Washington, DC (WAFC) league. Ultimate is a regular topic in the Hechter household; a bin of discs has a prominent place in the playroom, and orange cones are often used during playtime.

My interest in publishing began with casually changing the words during Isaac’s story time to include ultimate. For example, there’s a Sandra Boynton book with the line:  “You need nine players – strong and quick – to field a team for Pigglystick.” So, for fun, I swapped out Pigglystick with another 3-syllable game — ultimate.

In early 2015, I connected with Eli Neugeboren, a father of 2 and ultimate player, and began to hash out my idea of an ultimate counting book. Eli is an an experienced illustrator who lives, works and plays ultimate in Brooklyn, New York. If it weren’t for a mutual friend (and ultimate player) who introduced us in 2013, Eli and I would probably not know each other.

We instantly bonded over the idea of creating a fun and educational book we could read to our own children or proudly give as a gift.

We quickly learned there are lots of logistics: What page size? How high should the count go?? Can “once” be used to signify the number one? What rhymes with “sideline dance party”? (Not much, it turns out.)  Which typeset is most legible? Fortunately, a perfect publisher was found in Skyd Press. Their professional guidance was supportive throughout the project.

After the rhyming text was polished, Eli spearheaded the next step of illustrating the scenes to complement the story. All of Eli’s sketches were hand drawn, hand inked and eventually digitally recolored in Photoshop. We had a lot of conversations about the look and feel of each page. Readers will instantly notice the illustrated pictures were composed by someone who has spent time chasing after plastic.

The final to-do item was coming up with a book title. Fast Count was chosen because of its obvious connection to ultimate, and because the book is short enough to for a quick read. (Just in case a parent agrees to one last book before a much-needed bedtime.)

Fast Count! The Ultimate Counting Book took us the better part of a year from start to finish.  In addition to the time we spent writing and illustrating, the production itself took a few months to complete.  The book was finally published in April 2016, and is currently available via Amazon. The early book reviews have been very positive.

Writing Fast Count was a labor of love, and though there were times we were uncertain the project would see completion, the process was well worth it.

I could not have accomplished the book without the support of my family. Rachel offered valuable feedback while proofreading drafts, and Isaac was a patient listener of many iterations of the text.

We hope the book continues to be well received. Eli and I definitely have 1-2-3 more book ideas to share with the next generation of ultimate players.

D.C. resident Michael Hechter became a season ticket holder in the inaugural season (2013) of the Breeze. He has recently renewed his season tickets for the Breeze’s 2017 AUDL season. “Fast Count!” is available for purchase on Amazon here.

Author Michael Hechter


Illustrator Eli Neugeboren


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