KAMLOOPS – An old sport with new life is growing rapidly in Kamloops and the league behind the resurgence is hoping even more people will pick up a frisbee and join them.
Diana Gendron, spokesperson for the Kamloops Ultimate League, has been involved in the sport for the last six years. She has watched ultimate — the 'frisbee' has been dropped from the name — change dramatically over that time. As a new member of the Kamloops club, she is impressed with membership but still sees room to grow.
“(Ultimate frisbee) started with a real hippy crew,” she says, adding it was once seen as a past time only for pot smokers.
But this month the International Olympic Committee recognized ultimate as a legitimate sport. It may not be part of the next Olympics but ultimate has come a very long way, she says.
“If I have to explain ultimate to someone new, I usually say it’s cross between rugby, soccer and football.” Gendron says.
The offensive side scores points by crossing the defense’s end zone, similar to football. The disc can be thrown in any direction and the defense guards their opponents, similar to rugby and soccer.
Besides being self-officiated, Gendron says the difference between ultimate and any other sport is its accessibility.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or athletic, what matters is if you’re smart and can find space you can outplay a lot of people,” she says.
The sport boasts the highest caliber athletes who compete nationally and internationally, but is accessible to recreational or beer league athletes as well.
Gendron began in the sport after breaking four vertebrae in her neck. She could not lift her arms above her shoulders, but could still throw a disc. She started out at the lowest level possible and has since advanced to high-level competitive play.
While ultimate has exploded in cities across Canada, Gendron admits that it is still a challenge to attract players in Kamloops. The ultimate club has issued a growth challenge to its members. They are asked to introduce, and hopefully recruit, as many new people to the sport as possible.
“It’s about getting the word out that there is an ultimate league here,” Gendron says.
She encourages anyone, even those who may like to poke fun, to come this weekend to McArthur Park during the Big Thirst Ultimate Tournament, which runs Aug. 22 to 23 and features players from all over the province, and check it out.
“Once you play it, you’re hooked,” Gendron promises.
Other frisbee sports have also been growing in popularity in Kamloops. The disc golf course at Rose Hill is popular, as are other courses around the Okanagan.
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