By Martin Boyce
Following a rough 2-12 American Ultimate Disc League campaign, members of the Ottawa Outlaws were hungry for redemption when they pulled on the jerseys of their hometown Phoenix amateur team for the Aug. 13-20 Canadian Ultimate Championships in Manotick.
They got just that, securing a bronze medal match win over a rival Montreal team and earning a berth in next July’s club world championships in Cincinnati.
Phoenix went undefeated in preliminary pool play and only lost once in power pools before falling to the eventual champions, Toronto’s GOAT, in the semifinals.
Faced with a quick turnaround to battle for the final spot on the podium, the Ottawa men regrouped and played one of their strongest games of the tournament to down Montreal-based Mockingbird 12-9, making highlight-reel goals throughout the match.
Going 0-3 against Montreal during the AUDL season made their win against Mockingbird even more satisfying, says Karl Loiseau, Phoenix player and co-founder of the 3-year-old Outlaws.
“Especially playing Montreal,” he underlines. “They had a really good season, but we lost a couple games to them that we thought we could’ve won.”
Loiseau, an Outlaws captain in the club’s first 2 years, took a work term in Paris and returned to town with only 2 weeks left in the season, but didn’t play. While he missed the team, Loiseau says he tried to distance himself as much as possible to enjoy his time abroad.
“It was a great chance for some of the younger guys to step into that role,” he notes. “This is kind of a young team so to see us perform at the championships here is really exciting.”
Local women’s team places 5th
In women’s play, Ottawa’s Stella finished 5th following a 12-9 defeat in the quarter-finals.
Stella came into the tournament looking for gold but their goal was also to play their hardest, explains Wynne Gee, a past Team Canada player and the reigning Ottawa Sports Awards ultimate player of the year.
“Stella is definitely not considered a big team,” she notes, highlighting the unique experience of playing on home turf. “It’s nice to kind of show everyone what we have and have everyone here supporting us.”
Ottawa’s junior open team hits podium
In the junior open division, Ottawa’s Ignite won a bronze medal. Much like Phoenix, the team lost its semi-final match to the eventual champions, Winnipeg’s Masters Of Flying Objects (MOFO), before claiming the bronze.
“It was actually the goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year,” indicates Ignite coach Andrew Leach, noting the athletes were effective in focusing on executing on the field rather than the distractions off, with rain delays and playing at home.
The strong results for local teams is reflective of ultimate’s growth and consistency in Ottawa, Leach adds.
While nationals is a very competitive tournament, there remains a sense of sportsmanship and respect between opposing teams, notes Phoenix co-captain Kinley Gee, Wynne’s brother.
This sort of comraderie translates off the field as well, fuelling a strong spirit of volunteerism. With more than 2,000 athletes across all divisions (junior, adult and masters), that kind of support was crucial, adds Gee.
“I’m always blown away by this community and how much they support us,” he signals. “We’ve got volunteers that are working every hour of the day. I mean, I came to the field (at Ultimate Parks Inc.) this morning and I didn’t even recognize this place. It’s awesome.”