David Archibald explains the Halifax Ultimate story. Dave does some of his own writing and his stories are highly entertaining. You can check out his blog here http://dparchibald.wordpress.com/
Have you ever seen the video of cows let out of the barn for the first day of spring (check out the video below) That’s what ulty players look like stepping out onto the turf for the first outdoor tourny of the season. The first outdoor tourny of the season in the Maritimes, is called Tournament of Fools. It goes down in Halifax and is hosted by DKUT (Dalhousie King’s Ultimate Team). It was also the first tourny of Tim’s epic Canadian ultimate odyssey.
It’s called Tournament of Fools, for a number of reasons. It’s around April Fools each year, and it’s generally so cold, and often rainy and snowy, it’s just downright foolish to be playing outdoors. But ulty junkies got it bad, and every year they get out there, and try to scrape the rust off their outdoor throws. Everybody usually has some sort of moment – maybe Sunday morning, maybe in the middle of a snow squall – where they ask themselves: why am I doing this? But the moments where you say: ah yeah, this is why I’m doing this, outnumber those other ones by a wide margin.
ToF, draws a healthy mix of league teams, university teams, and teams mashed together from the city’s top touring players (touring in Halifax is predominantly open or women’s (its also the only NS town where the sport is really big enough to have dedicated touring players right now); NB and PEI touring is predominantly mixed; most of the regional tournaments are mixed). But more exciting than those regular guys, was the high school team that came out, won a few games, and just generally turned a lot of heads. That high school team is the perennial high school champs in the province, and this was the first time in the Maritimes that a high school team has played in one of the bigger (ie. not exclusively high school) regional tournaments.
And that sort of describes where the game is in Halifax right now, as well as the broader Maritime community. Blowing up. In Halifax, the summer rec. league gets bigger every year. Touring ultimate is seeing growth too. Two new touring teams – an open team based out of Halifax, and a woman’s team that will draw players from all of the Atlantic provinces (the Maritimes plus Newfoundland and Labrador) – have sprung up in the last year and will be playing alongside and against, long established touring teams in the region. All these teams are highly efficient, well organized frisbee eating machines. Just imagine what’ll happen when they start pushing each other.
Rural communities outside the major center’s are really starting to catch the bug too. Teams and organizations are being built from the ground up – grassroots style. Two people tossing, grows to a pick up a game, grows to a team, grows to a league, and the rest is history. It’s exciting to watch. That’s how it started in the big cities (Halifax, St. John, Moncton and Freddy) long before I knew what this sport was about, and look how far they’ve come? In the last month an East Coast mash-up team (Steve French) with players from those four major Maritime ‘markets’, placed 2nd at the World Beach Ultimate Championships in Paganello, Italy. As I watched the stream online and listened to the announcers talk about these ‘relative unknowns’ and ask where had they come from, I felt like I was sitting in that hazy Jamaican bar in the movie ‘Cool Runnings’. When the bobsled announcers ask “Where did these guys come from?”, the whole bar exuberantly screams “JAMAICA!” at the TV. Except me and my friends were screaming “THE MARITIMES!” at my laptop.
It’s exciting to be part of. Living out here, clinging to these desolate rocks jutting out into the middle of the cold, hard, Atlantic Ocean, seemingly stuck on the end of the continent as an afterthought, people have gotten hungry. Hungry for ultimate. And that hunger is driving players to get scary good, scary fast. Watch out over the next couple years Canada. But the best part of the whole scene is, no matter how far from here Maritime players go to play – Northeastern United States, Upper Canada, the long haul out West, or even some small beach-town as far away as Italy – no one has forgotten where they came from – the Maritimes, and starting off playing grassroots ultimate. The community is still number one. In the great Maritime regional tournies, top regional players don’t mind playing against, and helping new players get their start, and get the bug. Some of them even wear dresses while playing. But that trend hasn’t took off as well as some players would’ve hoped.