Competitive Clubs

Ultimate players are drawn to the close community of the sport. Photo: Photo: CC, Keflavich.
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Whether indoor or outdoor, this team keeps spinning all year long

Unlike varsity team sports, the University of Ottawa competitive ultimate frisbee club’s season never really ends. The team begins playing right away in the fall in local tournaments, then regionals, and then, potentially, nationals in October. After Christmas, the cycle starts right back up again—this time, with the team playing indoors.

“The cool thing about it is … you play in the fall, you take a two-month break,” said fourth-year Gee-Gee Habib Atallah. “The winter season starts right away in January. You go all the way to April, and then while we’re not in school, there’s the summer season.”

“It’s not like when I used to play football, where you had three months of playing and then you had the rest of the time to just train and lift and it’s not as fun.”

With a number of key players recently graduated, the Gees were prepared to take a step back this year. However, they surpassed their expectations, improving on their overall finish from the previous season. According to Atallah, the club finished 11th out of 25 teams, which is a marginal step up from where they finished at nationals last year.

“We thought this year, we have a bunch of rookies, it’s going to be difficult to push forward. But man, those rookies showed up and we showed up and just did whatever we could to get in the game and to get to where we want to be.”

Atallah explained that the team manages to keep up this same level of competitiveness when the game moves indoors during the winter. However, playing ultimate inside of a dome presents a unique set of challenges that never come into play in an outdoor environment.

“Indoor turns into a different sport, in a sense. It goes from seven-on-seven, outdoor, to four-on-four, indoor,” said Atallah. “Way quicker, up-tempo, shorter fields. The cardio is through the roof at this point. And that’s done for four months.”

While they can get space on campus to practice, it’s not always the most ideal situation for the team.

“We use the outdoor turf during the fall. Rain or shine we go out there, no matter what,” said Atallah. “In terms of indoor, we book domes, Ben Franklin, Superdome, pretty much around the city for a price and see what we can get. Anything that’s affordable, it’s probably going to be those Sunday nights at 10 p.m. type of thing, but we try to do what we can.”

Atallah said that because ultimate is a relatively small sport, it makes for a very tightly knit community feel, especially in cities like Ottawa and Montreal.

“I’m always smiling on the field because you always love the people you play with. You go out there. You’re competing against people, they give you a helping hand. You laugh, you’re joking around, you’re smiling, you’re enjoying your time every time.”

The Gees’ indoor season ends in April, at which point most of the players spend their summer playing ultimate on various city teams until they return to wearing the Garnet and Grey in the fall.