The London Free Press
LONDON, Ont. -- It’s a sport that requires the agility of a sprinter, the vertical leap of a basketball player, the strategy of a quarterback and the quickness of a hockey player.
And it needs a Frisbee.
London showcased some of the best Ultimate Frisbee players in the country at the Canadian Eastern Universities Ultimate Championships on the weekend.
Twenty-eight teams — 16 men’s and 12 women’s — competed for a place at the national championships in Montreal next month.
It was also a chance for the London Ultimate Club to show off a sport that’s still relatively new to the city, but quickly growing in popularity.
“There’s actually more running in a Frisbee game than there is in a professional soccer game,” said Nick Gifford, president of the London Ultimate Club.
At the St. George’s Rugby Club, the fields usually reserved for scrums were flooded with flying discs.
And the competition was fierce — seven players aside, foot planted when holding the Frisbee, and a 10-second time limit to get it out of your hands.
And there’s no referees — the players call the fouls.
Gifford said the sport attracts many for its fast pace and emphasis on hand-eye co-ordination.
And it’s economical. All a player needs is a pair of cleats and they’re ready to play.
Aaron Leung, 22, a member of the Uni versity of Western Ontario’s A team, didn’t discover the game until he started his first year.
He had friends who played in Toronto, but didn’t try it until he saw people playing on campus. The number of people in the sport has grown since.
Leung’s team was doing well Saturday.
“This year we’re going for gold at the nationals,” he predicted.
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, 19, originally from Newmarket, also plays for Western.
He said ultimate players are part of a tight community.
“It’s at a size right now that it’s big enough to be competitive, but small enough that you know everybody,” he said.
There is a strong co-ed component, he said, and while there are not mixed teams at the university level, there are co-ed tournaments for club teams.
Western’s women’s A team came off a tough loss to Ottawa late Saturday.
Jordan Meron, 19, a second year history major from Aurora, predicted her team would see Ottawa again in the finals.
Meron has been playing ultimate Frisbee since high school — and her team was a provincial champion.
“It’s a mixture of everything the other sports have. There’s running and throwing and catching. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
And it’s made Frisbee much more than a game of catch.
jane.sims [at] sunmedia.ca