It took approximately 13 seconds for me, and everyone in attendance, to discover that I had no natural ability at Ultimate. After repeatedly dropping easy catches and frequently hucking unstable, wayward passes which my teammates had no chance of catching; my pre-session visions of innate Ultimate talent were cruelly dashed on Jericho turf field.
Fortunately, the UBC Ultimate club members were thoroughly accommodating. They accepted my many shortcomings and made me feel very welcome. The players’ response to my performance was, in many ways, the antithesis of that of our Video Editor, Tim Hoggan, who found my attempts to play Ultimate relentlessly entertaining. I, with my limited knowledge of the sport, was incredibly impressed by the level of the men’s team that I practiced with, yet I was surprised to discover that this was only the B team.
“We have two parts: a competitive "A Team" for both men and women that compete against US schools for a place in the US Ultimate Association National Championships,” said club secretary Alex Hackney.
“The second part of the club is a less competitive "B Team" that attends tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.”
The A team is well-ranked, but costs more than the B team as players have to cover travel, hotel and tournament costs. However, to join the club itself costs only $15 so practice and expertise are accessible to almost anyone that wants to try their hand at the game.
This structure allows anyone to play, even someone as terrible as myself, and gain skills. Players who develop well then have the option to commit themselves yet further and play at a higher level.
The session that I attended consisted of a gentle warm-up, before several drills, mainly focused on beating you ‘check’ to pass to a teammate. After several other technical drills that I embarrassed myself in with alarming regularity, we moved into some small-sided games. Here the talent of those at the session were very visible. Fantastically accurate passes, as well as well-timed catches were all the rage. I did manage to ruin an excellent move from my team by fumbling an easy catch in the end zone, but, in my mind at least, I redeemed myself by catching a later one. Ten points to Gryffindor.
The evening was thoroughly enjoyable. Despite not having any skill, I felt welcome: the players that I trained with had an excellent sense of humour and I got the impression that any new player would be given a good chance to play and improve.
Check out our previous instalment of Ciaran goes clubbing: Ubyssey editor tries fencing.