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2 Surrey school ultimate teams finish top-3 in B.C. at Newton Athletic Park tournaments

Hundreds of Frisbee-throwing athletes play for provincial-championship glory
Surrey Christian’s ultimate team (in black) battled Grand Forks for a provincial AA title at Newton Athletic Park on Friday (May 27). Grand Forks won 11-10. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Two Surrey teams were top-3 finishers at B.C. high school ultimate provincials, played at Newton Athletic Park from May 26-29.

The four-day competition involved two season-ending tournaments hosted by BC School Sports and BC Ultimate, first involving 16 AAA and 16 AA Senior (Grades 11/12) teams battling for two BCSS provincial banners, Thursday and Friday.

“There’s 32 teams here, two divisions with 16 teams each, and there are around 20 players per team, so that’s around 600 players from across the province,” Brian Gisel, general manager of BC Ultimate, said Friday.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, another 800-plus players of the disc sport filled Newton Athletic Park for junior championships and a 32-team “Senior Invite” tournament for schools that didn’t qualify for BC School Sports provincials.

• RELATED STORY: B.C. school ball hockey and ultimate frisbee championships played in Surrey from May 26-29.

On Friday afternoon (May 27), Surrey Christian’s senior team lost a close one, 11-10, to Grand Forks in the AA division championship final, giving the Falcons second place in B.C.

In AAA play, Guildford Park Sabres lost in the semifinal, 6-5 to Sutherland, who later fell 12-4 to Eric Hamber in the championship game. The Sabres ended up with provincial bronze.

“These amazing Sabres only lost one game all year and it came in semis on last point to Sutherland,” coach Mike Dumouchelle tweeted. “What grit and spirit to comeback to win 3rd place. So proud!”


In the Junior tourney Guildford Park also placed third, in Division II.

Friday was a windy day for a sport played with a plastic Frisbee.

“There’s a lot of turnovers on a day like today,” noted Gisel, who has played ultimate for 30 years and helped shed light on the growing popularity of the sport, notably in B.C. high schools.

The co-ed nature of the sport helps draw players, along with springtime games played in relatively nice weather.

“This year, everybody was curious to see how sports would come back after the pandemic, and we were overwhelmed by the interest in ultimate,” Gisel emphasized.

“In general, if you get kids together with a Frisbee, they love it. Our sport has been really popular at the high school level for a long time, and this year we had 104 schools register for zone playdowns across the province, and the top 32 are here playing (Friday).”

High school ultimate games are typically around 90 minutes in length and played on a field half the width of a soccer pitch.

“You have two end zones just like in football, and two teams of seven players each,” Gisel explained.

“There’s a kickoff that we call the pull, and the team then moves the disc up the field by throwing to other players – you can’t move when you have the disc,” he added. “And those passes are completed until it’s caught in the other team’s end zone – that’s one point. If the disc is intercepted or hits the ground or goes out of bounds, then teams switch from offense to defensive, much like basketball.

There are no referees in ultimate – other than the 14 players involved in the action.

“There’s an overarching set of rules, the spirit of the game,” Gisel noted. “Everybody is expected to go play hard and competitively, but you don’t play to win at all costs, and you don’t cheat to win. What’s true is that the 14 players on the field are the officials, and you can’t hide cheating from yourself. With the youth playing, that’s fantastic, and we’re teaching them communication skills, we’re teaching them arbitration skills, how to advocate on behalf of yourself, to connect with other teams.”

In some sports, like hockey and soccer, players aren’t encouraged to talk to members of an opposing team, but that’s not the case in ultimate.

“Our sport demands that you talk to the other team, that you make calls and discuss what happens on the field, and you come to a resolution,” Gisel said. “That’s great for social-emotional learning and all kinds of life skills, and that’s why our sport is fantastic at every level but particularly at the high school level.”

Surrey-area schools involved in the B.C. ultimate championships were Kwantlen Park, Surrey Christian, Holy Cross, Sullivan Heights, Guildford Park, Fleetwood Park, Semiahmoo, Queen Elizabeth and Regent Christian Academy.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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