The Ultimate Experience

posted: Monday, May 14, 2017

It's been an exciting time recently in SJR Athletics! We're proud of our Varsity Co-Ed Ultimate team - the national champions at this year's Canadian High School Ultimate Championships! 
Players were selected back in March, and played in the league throughout April and May. Teams from all across Canada competed firstly in Chicago, where they played as single-gender teams, before moving on to the National Championships in Montreal on May 6 and 7, 2017. The Eagles have won Nationals twice before.
The Saturday games were played in the rain, with players battling the wind and cold. The team beat Innisdale Secondary School from Toronto. On Sunday (when the weather was even worse!), the team played the quarter-finals, winning 11-4, the semi-finals, winning 7-6, and the finals, which they won 6-4. A game typically runs until a score of 13 is reached, but the final was stopped with a score of 6-4 to SJR due to the weather.  Sean, Grade 12, talked of the tough conditions: "It benefitted us, since we were winning at that point! It was only cut five or ten minutes short, but my one regret is that we won, and then only had five minutes to celebrate - the fire department had showed up and were evacuating the teams that weren't playing, due to the flood warnings, so we only had a few minutes to celebrate before we were evacuated ourselves. But we still celebrated that night instead - the team went bowling, where there was lots of laughs and relaxing (we had some sleepers - we were pretty tired!)"
Samantha, Grade 12, writes of her experience: 
"This year's High School Ultimate Nationals were incredible. My first CHSUC was in Grade 9 at the same complex in Montreal, so finishing off my Grade 12 year with a gold back at the same place was thrilling. I've accumulated 4 bronze medals from Canadian National tournaments, and this win is by far the most incredible award to receive.
The majority of our team has been playing together for multiple years and due to that, we have exceptional chemistry. We trust each other and know how every single member of our team plays, and I can honestly say that that is what sets us apart from all the other teams. Our gender, size, height, or speed doesn't set any of us apart as each of us have an equal amount of passion and love for the game. I can attribute this dedication toward Ultimate as a quality we have all developed from our two incredible coaches, Dean Wright and Sean Storm. Both of these men have such a deep love and appreciation for the sport, and I promise you that if you met any member of our team you will see that exact same appreciation and passion radiate from us.
The competition this year was by far one of the most skilled and strategic group of teams I have played against at this level. Personally, I always love coming out to tournaments and seeing the skill level from female players repeatedly evolve and intensify. Over the past four years, the CHSUC program has produced so much more depth from their female players, which is really important as the female programs continue to expand. Not only was the competition unlike any other, but the spirit and atmosphere was incredible. Every team we played against or had the opportunity to watch exemplified their passion for the sport as they fought hard to win, but kept their game play clean.
It is truly amazing to see Ultimate continue to grow, and I do attribute a lot of that to the incredible coordinators and volunteers who help run an event like CHSUC. Everyone was so welcoming and caring to all team members and coaches. The event ran so smoothly (minus the flood warning) and it was a great tournament to be a part of. I also would like to send a small shoutout to the staff members that put up the live streams. Thanks to this, my parents were able to scream their hearts out at their TV all the way back home from Winnipeg. It took them a while to understand Ultimate and accept that 'frisbee' is a real sport, but thanks to live streams they are able to live the intensity live and share it with other family members. That's how the sport grows."
Sean and Sam have actually been playing Ultimate together for the past four years. This year's final was held in the exact same place they competed at in Grade 9, when they finished third. "It was great to finish where we started, and this time to win," said Sean. "This team was definitely one of the closest there's been in a while - everyone really bonded well together, and there definitely was no shortage of laughs. I also noticed we had some of the strongest female players in Canada - they helped us a lot. We had a really great overall chemistry due to our history together - I'd say this was probably the strongest group of Grade 12s in the past five years. The leadership was key."
Congratulations to Samantha, Ben, Liam, Ryan, Gabriel, Ian, Taylor, Bryn, Caitlyn, Ishika, Jordan, Daniela, Sean, Blaise, Ethan, Madeline, Chloe and Jadon!