I am not going to lie to you; I am not a sports person. In fact I tried really hard for most of my life to stay away from it. Apart from playing some mini cricket in the passage of our house and taking the dogs for a walk, exercise was never a top priority in my life. Eating pizza in my slippers always sounded like a much better use of my time. So I guess you could say that I didn’t choose the ultimate life, the ultimate life chose me. (Did I actually just type that?)
In my second year of university I decided to get off my ass (because it was growing, first year spread is real), and join as many societies as I could. Ultimate Frisbee was one of them and for every Friday of 2012 I joined a group of amazing people and attempted to throw this vexing piece of plastic around. Like everyone when they start playing ultimate, I was bad at it. But like, really bad. I couldn’t run and I couldn’t catch and subbing off was pretty much my favourite part of the sport. Ultimate attracts people that you would never otherwise in your life have come in to contact with, and chatting to them on the side line was sometimes more fun than coughing up a lung on the field.
A while after solemnly swearing that I would never play ultimate competitively the Frisbee bug bit me. It became my passion, my drive and my social life. Like many players in South Africa, I started playing ultimate with a mixed team. But then, a few years ago, I played my first tournament with a women’s team at the Open/Women’s National Champs in 2013. When you talk to ladies about playing women’s ultimate many of them say they prefer it. This seemed strange to me because one of the reasons I love playing ultimate is because it’s mixed. Having been to an all-girls high school, it was quite nice to have some friends with testosterone. However when I played with a women’s team I finally understood what the many wise one’s before me had been preaching. Women prefer playing with their own gender because they have more opportunities to be active players in the game. It demands more of them. They get more chances to catch the disc; the opportunity to run long without the worry of some tall man crashing in to them; and most importantly ladies can layout in the end zone and get the glory! It’s really flippen exciting!
Women’s Nationals was the first time I had a female captain, and it was the first time I met other ladies who knew tons more about ultimate than some of the men there. It was during that weekend that I had a crash course not only in ultimate skills and strategies (I had to learn zone defence during one game), but I also learnt that gender equality is imperative in a sport like ours. Playing with a team of ladies was a new experience for me, and one that made me a better ultimate player. So that when I went back to playing with a mixed team I saw how South Africa needs to learn to utilise their ladies in powerful ways. We are a formidable force, both home and away.