The short version of how Ivy and Young Byun became North Texas’ most interesting sports owners goes like this: boy meets girl. A boy persuades a girl to play Ultimate Frisbee. The boy and girl become good friends, then best friends, then get married – without, they insist, ever actually dating. A boy and a girl purchase the Ultimate Frisbee team while working as a neonatologist and adoption specialist respectively, pursuing higher education, building a house, and raising three children under the age of 6.
You know, a standard love story.
The story begins around 2006 in St. Louis, where Young was doing his neonatology fellowship and residency at Washington University. He would relax playing in an intramural volleyball team with other medical students, which is how he met Ivy Chiang, an undergraduate student from Wash U and a member of the women’s team. of the club responsible for refereeing one of its matches. Another year passed before they crossed paths again, but, from then on, they continued to find their way into each other’s orbit – first through volleyball, then through the church – and eventually became friends.
It didn’t take Young long to introduce Ivy to another sport. Years earlier, as an undergrad at Harvard, he played his first game of Ultimate Frisbee—Ultimate, for short. (For the uninitiated: Think soccer without kicks, tackles, set positions, or chasing after the catch, and you’re on your way.) According to USA Ultimate, the nation’s governing body for the sport, more than 18,000 student-athletes compete at 800 colleges nationwide. Young’s attraction to Ultimate grew out of the sport’s egalitarian spirit – the way everyone on the court can fill every role, the players referee themselves, the only equipment needed is a disc and a terrain. So even though he loved volleyball, that never stopped him from pestering his friends – Ivy for the most part – to try Ultimate. And, of course, after becoming “slightly resilient,” she ended up falling in love with it, too.
Their own romance was far less straightforward. “We kind of skipped the dating part,” Young says, but not for lack of trying on her end. Ivy hesitated. “I believed the purpose of dating was marriage,” she says, “and so I was very judicious.” Then Young took a job in Orlando in 2008. Faced with the prospect of being separated, Ivy realized, “He slowly became my best friend, and I wanted to marry my best friend, and that was it.”
They married the following year and Ivy joined Young in Florida. Life as a newlywed was simple: work, church, travel. They set a goal of seeing all seven continents before having children; they did it everywhere except Antarctica. They have also found their place in the Orlando Ultimate scene. Ivy made a name for herself with a stamina that allowed her to play entire games in the sweltering humidity without retiring.
“She was always in high demand,” Young says with a smile. “They didn’t really care if I played, but they still wanted Ivy to play.”
Then, in 2012, the scene changed. A new professional league called the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) emerged, with plans to turn the sport from a hobby into a vocation. Neither Young nor Ivy were good enough to compete on a team, but they could do the next best thing: own one. An attempt to buy into a Florida team was rebuffed. Fate intervened when Young moved to Fort Worth, and the league announced plans to expand to North Texas in 2016. He reached out to territorial rights holder Jim Gerencser – “sort of stalked him” , he admits – and the Byuns eventually paid around $10,000 for a 10% stake in what would become the Dallas Roughnecks, which later grew to 25%. Last December, they bought out Gerencser and renamed the team Legion.
In the five-year interval, the Byuns built a life in North Texas. Young continued her practice and Ivy earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and later a doctorate. in training and supervising counselors to augment his career as an adoption specialist. They had their first son, Kepler, in 2016, followed by two more boys, each two years apart, Riesz and Escher. The children are named after mathematicians from Eastern Europe. Throughout, there was the Ultimate team, “a passion project that invaded our lives,” says Ivy. The Byuns accompanied the team on road trips, booked training grounds, established travel itineraries, processed ticket refunds. For a time, Young ran the team’s merchandise store from the couple’s home office. Ivy, always the advisor, made it a point to sit down with the players on every trip to hear their stories.
Something changed for the Byuns at the 2022 season opener in April, when 602 people packed into the stands at Colleyville Middle School to cheer on a Byuns-named team wearing a Byuns-designed logo. “It really felt like it was ours for the first time,” Young says. He sits at a high table in an outdoor clubhouse in the Viridian neighborhood of Arlington, dressed in black Legion gear with the same logo. Across the street, carpenters are working on the house the Byuns are building and hope to move in next year. Ivy sits to his right, bouncing Escher on her lap. Kepler and Riesz, sporting the same bun as their little brother, roam the area picking up rocks and chirping at each other.
Winjie Miao, a close friend of the couple, describes their approach to parenting as “totally team by team”, which reflects their approach to the Legion. He is the idea man, the dream chaser, the one who stays up every night after midnight to communicate with the league, brainstorm marketing ideas and design new merchandise. “He pushes me in a way, like, I don’t think if I was alone or if I wasn’t with him that I would really seek this adventure,” Ivy says.
She’s the realist, the one who bases those big ideas on something solid. When Young latched onto the idea of buying a professional sports team, she was the one who insisted he get an MBA (which he would get at TCU). When he is overwhelmed by the daily minutiae of the team, it is she who reminds him of their values, the legacy they hope to leave to the world and to their children. “She always helps me reorient myself,” he says.
“They just work,” Miao says. “You talk with them and see how they have this rapport with each other and this deep respect for each other.”
Already, after six months of majority ownership, their vision is taking shape. The Byuns are building a culture of diversity, from a five-sixths minority ownership group and a half-black coaching staff in the roster. They’re also prioritizing a core of homegrown players — plus a few select players from South Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas — over the high-priced domestic talent that defined the early years of the league. ‘crew.
Above all, they work to create something that lasts. A team whose players can earn a living wage instead of day labor and employs a real operating staff so the Byuns can cut some of their hours. A team that helps North Texans discover and embrace the sport they love, even in one of America’s busiest sports markets. And, when they’re wide-eyed, maybe even a team one of their sons could play for one day.
It’s ambitious, but they don’t have to do it alone. They recruited friends to join the ownership group, to help the training staff, to help run the in-game entertainment. They encouraged players to take ownership of off-court roles that interest them, including the business of the league, community relations and social media. They don’t do it for financial reward but because of the couple who run it.
“The level of interest they take in the people they talk to is what draws people to them,” says Melissa Battis, Legion chief executive and full-time math teacher at Greenhill School.
The Legion did not win this season opener. As of this writing in early June, they were 0-4. But betting against them seems unwise. As the Byuns know better than anyone, love will find a way.
Mike Piellucci is Magazine Dsports editor of . He is a former employee of Athleticism and VICEand his freelancer…