Toss. Run. Catch. Repeat.
Ultimate Frisbee may seem like an easy sport, but there are many complexities that go into the game. Having been played for over decades, the sport is becoming increasingly popular.
Schools across the Toronto District School Board compete annually during the spring season. Teams are split into four districts, North, South, East, and West, and play against other schools based on their region. Marc Garneau CI played in the South division.
Marc Garneau CI has had an Ultimate Frisbee team for at least fifteen years. One of the team’s coaches, Mr. Graham, said, “I took it over in 2008 from Ms. Lesser. We used to have just one varsity team but went to having a junior and senior team two years ago and then adding a third female-only team that played in the fall of 2018.” Over this time, different students have played on the team, but the spirit for the sport has not changed. Tryouts for both the junior and senior teams were held in early April, with an overwhelming number of students trying out in both divisions. Both teams were eventually narrowed down to seventeen students each, with seven girls and ten boys. The junior team was coached by Mr. Graham, while the senior team was coached by Mr. Blyth. After several practices at the Hydro Field near the school, Garneau played games throughout May.
The junior team, made up of Grade 9 and 10 students, played three games in total, against Jarvis CI, Danforth CTI, North Toronto CI, with Garneau winning one out of three games. Due to a lack of teams in the South District, the junior team also played an exhibition match.
After, qualifying for playoffs, the junior team played on 23 May against Humberside CI. Although the team lost 7-15, many looked back at how far the team had come. “I’m really proud of how we have bonded and played as a team this season. I think we bonded the most through slipping and falling into mud.” said Grade 9 frisbee team player Sebastian Assuncao.
Nonetheless, the team faced challenges this season. There were several scheduling conflicts throughout the season, and dates of both practices and games constantly changed due to the weather. “We were late getting started outside because of the long winter and couldn’t get onto the fields because of the wet spring.” Mr. Graham said. Additionally, members were busy with other commitments, resulting in a shortage of practices for the team, and low attendances for the ones that were held. Additionally, many members of the junior team were beginners and had only recently started playing the sport. However, more experienced students and the coaches were able to support new members and teach them to catch, throw, play defense and strategies to play cohesively as a team. Members hope that they can build even stronger teams in the future as students continue playing through high school.
When asked about his hopes for future teams, Mr. Graham replied, “My one hope would be that everyone on the team joins the Toronto Ultimate Club (TUC) and plays over the summer and winter so that they all hone the necessary skills, technical abilities, and fitness levels to play the game at a high level before we even have the tryouts. That is what many of the other schools are doing and if we want to compete with them we need to play more than a few times in the spring. We have some raw athletic ability on the team but most need to learn how to play the game and TUC is a great league to do that.” Jalal Jalali, the junior team captain said, “It would be great if we could have more pickup practices and scrimmages so we can learn new plays as a team in the future”.
By the end of the season, it was evident that the players had improved as a team. It was an opportunity for students to represent the Cougars and have fun at the same time. Jilal said, “It was a rather an enjoyable opportunity to play on the team with such amazing people.”