By Karlis Bouse
As many of us are enjoying the sunny weather of early May, a team of local athletes will be competing at the Canadian High School Ultimate (Frisbee) Championships in Ajax, Ont.
For the first time in the history of the program, the Nepean High School Ultimate team earned a bid to compete in the high school national championship tournament, and they intend to make the most of the opportunity.
The Canadian High School Ultimate Championships (CHSUC) were introduced in 2011 by Ultimate Canada, the national governing body for the sport. By way of background, the sport of Ultimate Frisbee is more than 50 years old, with millions of players across over 90 countries. Locally, the Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association (OCUA) got going in 1986.
The OCUA enjoyed exponential growth in early years, and the league was the world’s largest in the mid-2000s, with over 300 teams and 5,000 players. In addition to adult teams and leagues, OCUA also runs youth and junior leagues (for ages 7-17), along with middle school and high school tournaments.
Over the years, the high school tournaments have attracted young athletes from many local schools. This co-educational sport has no referees, and game spirit and sportsmanship are what’s important. So frisbee is an excellent introduction to co-operative sport, and the Nepean team strives for inclusivity and opportunity for all players.
Coach Kathy McBride said it’s important to have an open and approachable program that encourages everyone to try the sport.
“We have students come to the team with no previous sports experience, and they are quickly welcomed and encouraged, and have an incredible experience playing an amazing sport with remarkable people,” she said.
Nepean has a mix of competitive club junior players, and recreational players, from grades 9 through 12. The depth of the program allows Nepean to enter many tournaments, through the competitive, intermediate and beginner divisions.
After years of moderate success, typically finishing around the top five, this last year has seen an impressive run of tournament victories. In May 2022, they won the Ultimate Spring Open tournament, along with the OCUA High School Cup, and then in fall 2022, they earned a victory in the Back to School / Back to Ultimate Fall championship.
These successes paved the way for Nepean’s strong application in December 2022 to get into the Canadian High School Ultimate Championships this May. As only 16 teams across the country are selected, the competition is fierce, and it’s an honour to be amongst them.
The other high schools participating are from New Brunswick, Manitoba, Quebec, and elsewhere in Ontario. “We’re really extremely excited to be part of the event, and will represent our school, city, and sport with pride, sportsmanship and competition,” said Callia B, one of the captains. “We’re looking forward to an amazing experience.”
Karlis is a long-time Ultimate player and coach, starting with his kids (and their friends) at Elmdale Public School, then to Fisher Park, Nepean and Carleton University. Karlis and his family have lived in Westboro for over 20 years.