When it comes to breaking into new social circles, it’s hard to find one in the city that’s more welcoming than ultimate. Mile Zero Ultimate — the province’s flying disc organization –operates adult co-ed leagues in St. John’s, picking up a steady string of new members alongside league veterans since the early 2000s.
The basics: Ultimate is a non-contact team sport played with a flying disc. The object is to catch the disc in the opposing team’s end zone.
About the name: it’s “Ultimate” as in “Ultimate Frisbee.” However, “Frisbee” is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company, and thus prevented from being formally referred to as such. So, “Frisbee” is to “flying disc” as “Hacky Sack” is to “footbag” and “Slip ‘N Slide” is to “flexible plastic water slide.”
Aside for a generic flying disc, you don’t need much to start playing ultimate. “A good pair of running shoes will do to start,” says Allan Johnson, MZU President. “Once you get more involved in the sport, you can splurge on a pair of cleats for grass, and turf shoes for turf,” says Rachael Fitkowski of MZU.
The ultimate vibe is, by design, welcoming to new players. “One of the core principles of Mile Zero Ultimate and ultimate communities across the world is Spirit of the Game,” says Johnson.
“Our focus is on respectful and fair play, being inclusive of all players, and supporting an environment where individuals can safely play ultimate at whatever competitive level they desire.” On and off the field, taunting, showboating, and general aggrobehaviour are contrary to Spirit of the Game, so ultimate players don’t partake.
“The league is very welcoming to new players, says Tiff Warren, Vice President of Spirit for MZU. “There are always more experienced players who are willing to coach new players on the rules of the game and how to improve your skills.”
Throughout the year, MZU alternates between team leagues (where teams sign up together) and hat leagues (where players sign up solo or with a partner and are matched with other solos and pairs to make a team).
“The team leagues give you a chance to play with friends and people that you know, while the hat league lets you branch out and not only meet new people, but play with new teammates that expose you to other playing styles, techniques, and strategies,” says Fitkowski.
But, really, how fit does a person need to be to compete in an ultimate league? It turns out, not very. With games running from 60 to 90 minutes, a player might expect to be on the field for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
“We structure our leagues so that teams play opponents of a similar skill level so it really doesn’t matter if you’re a new player looking to get off the couch and get some exercise, or a former varsity athlete looking to transition to a new competitive outlet, we’re confident you’ll find a game that meets your needs,” says Johnson.
Check the league schedule at www.milezeroultimate.com