No coaches necessary

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee qualifies for Nationals

Men’s Ultimate travelled to Burlington and left with a perfect record.
Credit: 
Supplied by Tyler Gunasekera

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee competed at the annual Steeltown Classic Tournament in Burlington on Sept. 24 and 25.

After just finishing tryouts and forming the team two weeks ago, this tournament offered the team their first chance at competition this season after several practices.

This year, the team has 21 players, nine of whom are rookies. COVID-19 forced most of last year’s games and practices to be cancelled, which led to a lack of returning players.

Player Tyler Gunasekera, Kin ’25, spoke about the weekend in an interview with The Journal.

“Our team was a little bit nervous going into this year just because of how new our team is,” Gunasekera said.

“Being able to actually bond with the team and stay overnight at a hotel and just get to know—because there are so many new players—just get to know that feeling of being a team for the first time because with the season being so quick, it’s hard to do that.”

Over the course of the weekend, the team played and won six games, finishing with a perfect record and a ticket to Nationals. What’s most amazing, however, is they pulled all this off without any coaching staff.

“Our captains were running the whole tournament pretty much for our team,” Gunasekera said. “The coaches weren’t able to make it.”

Queen’s began the weekend strong by winning the first game 13-1, which Gunasekera said he believed set the tone for the whole tournament.

“We didn’t really have too many close games throughout the tournament which is a good feeling,” he said. “We realized that we are still a really good team and after last year, where we came in second at Nationals, I think everyone started to realize we can get back to that point.”

Regardless of the conditions, Queen’s persevered and succeeded. Gunasekera’s favourite moment from the weekend was a game played at 7:30 a.m. Whereas some teams may have felt the early morning grogginess, the Gaels embraced it.

“Everyone on the team was just so fired up to play that game and the whole time people were engaged,” he said. “Even if they weren’t playing very much because it was a close game, people were like yelling from the sidelines […] The whole energy of that game was just great.”

Queen’s was continuously tested, but even in the midst of weather delays, could not be rattled.

The Gaels were up 10-8 during their final game when lightning caused a 30-minute game delay, forcing them to leave the field with the game on the line.

“That 30-minute [delay] gave us a lot of time to think and kind of get in our heads and everything,” Gunasekera said.

Eventually, play resumed, and Queen’s landed the last point of the game.

“I’m really proud of the team for being able to come back to that […] we scored right away after that and won the game which was pretty awesome […] I was proud of the team for overcoming that,” Gunasekera said.

Unsurprisingly, the men’s team has become a recognizable force in the Canadian Ultimate community and so, seven Gaels have been invited to tryout at the U24 Team Canada tryouts in two weeks.

Dax Miller, Declan Gainer, Ian McClean, Taige Tomlinson, Will Dickson, Tristan Galipau, and Tyler Gunasekera will all travel to Ottawa for a chance to represent their country on the ultimate stage.

Men’s Ultimate will compete again this weekend at the Canadian Eastern University Ultimate Championships before lining up at Nationals later this fall. 

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