Ultimate fun with frisbee team

Ultimate Frisbee tryouts began Tuesday night at Richardson Stadium.
Ultimate Frisbee tryouts began Tuesday night at Richardson Stadium.

Detractors will say that activities involving frisbees do not constitute sport. It’s what people do on Sunday afternoon in the park with their dogs. But pessimists overlook the growing global popularity of Ultimate Frisbee—the sport is now played by an estimated 100,000 people, in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact team sport, usually played outdoors on grass which combines elements of basketball, football, and soccer.

In fact, Queen’s has both a men’s and a women’s competitive club team. Stuart Netherton, PhD Pharmacology ’05, is one of five captains of the men’s team. He first got involved with the sport in a rec league while doing his undergrad at McMaster. When he came to Queen’s he signed up for the team immediately.

“My favourite part [about Ultimate] is not just the athletic but the community aspects as well,” Netherton said. “We’re a close group of guys on this team, we travel to tournaments together, and meet lots of other interesting people there.”

Women’s captain Mary-Ellen Conway, PhysEd ’05, also reveres the sport’s culture.

“It’s an active sport—you get a good workout, and while it’s competitive, it is also friendly,” she said.

Last year was a rebuilding year for the women, as they finished sixth at the nationals in Kamloops, British Columbia. Conway is optimistic that this year will boast a stronger showing from the women.

“We’re going to be top three,” Conway said.

The men’s team was top three last season, finishing second at the nationals in Kamloops. However, the team graduated five players last season.

“That’s a lot of experience to replace,” Netherton said. “But we have a great crop and we expect to do well.” The teams’ main competition includes several schools in the U.S.—the birthplace of Ultimate—as well as Ontario rivals U. of T., McMaster, and Trent.

The team travels to Rochester this weekend for a tournament. Unfortunately, tournaments are virtually the only means of filling the schedule, and they can be a costly venture.

“[Tournaments] can cost a lot,” Netherton said. “We flew out to B.C. for nationals on our own cash. You have to love it.”

The University officially recognized Ultimate as a club in 1997. The school provides $750 each year to each team, and that money goes towards van rentals and entry fees.

“It helps us immensely,” Netherton said.

The players do much of the administrative work themselves for both teams. The five men’s captains handle all the administrative duties, roster selection, as well as travel and tournament arrangements.

“We have to be on the ball,” Netherton said.

Judging by the palpable enthusiasm of both captains, the work is more than worthwhile.

“When I came to Queen’s I had never played before,” Conway said. “I wanted to play a competitive sport at school, and now (Ultimate) is one of the highlights of my University career.”

There are other avenues to chase your frisbee down at Queen’s, including intramurals and summer leagues. Give it a flick; it’s sure to make for better frisbeeing company than Sundays with Muffin.

—With files from wfdf.org and geocities.com/queens_ultimate/

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