“Wow, I had no idea it was a real sport… I remember playing in gym class.”
“I always thought that was just something people did with their dogs.”
These are just some of the responses I’ve had to the statement “I play ultimate”. I’ve been playing this sport for eight years now, and if I said that 80% of people are surprised to hear this is a real sport, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
I started high school with absolutely no knowledge of this sport, and the only reason I attended one of the fall practices was because of my two friends who had older brothers who played. Oh, and because it was coed.
I ended up playing all five years of high school and loving it. There was a group of us who started playing in grades eight and nine, and by grade twelve we had developed such chemistry and skill together that we won our final high school provincial championships. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to play on two provincial teams that won Canadian nationals, my university team, the top Canadian women’s team, and the 2015 Canadian U23 Women’s team.
Ultimate is unique in the sense that it’s a relatively new sport – it has only been present in Canada for 40 years. I’ve only been playing for eight years, but in those few years, it has grown exponentially. In 2014, I was fortunate enough to play in Lecco, Italy at the largest club championships ever; there were 50 teams from over 14 countries and it was an incredible feeling to be a part of the growth of a sport that I love so much.
Ultimate is an incredible sport, and I have no doubt that it will eventually gain the widespread awareness and admiration that it deserves. My friends who play this sport are some of the best people I know; an integral element of ultimate is “spirit of the game”, which basically means integrity and self-governance. It is very difficult, in my opinion, to be an unsportsmanlike or terrible person and succeed at ultimate.
This sport will eventually make it into the Olympics – I’m sure of it – but in the meantime, I will have to patiently continue my reassurances that, yes, ultimate is a real sport.