Your reigning Canadian Mixed Ultimate Champions, this crew of athletes is ready to make a statement in Italy. We have been training since last August, practising since January, and we’re hungry to show the world what we can do. The trememndous support we have had so far via Tweets, Facebook, Likes, Shares, Emails and contributions, do not go unnoticed. We plan on representing our supporters, the Toronto Ultimate community and ourselves class on and off the field in Italy.
Without further ado:
- Amanda Moore (captain)
- Warren Tang (captain)
- Aaron Kucherawy
- Andy Milne
- Bryan Spekkers
- Cam Dunning
- Chris Bracht
- Cory Galloway
- Emma Seaborn
- Hadiya Roderique
- Jacky Hau
- Jamie Galloway
- Jenn Le Roux
- Kate Jardine
- Krista Kotwa
- Mal Lundgren
- Matt Chellew
- Matt Kirk
- Michelle Chandler
- Norm Lew
- Peyton Leung
- Steve Lee
- Taylor Martin
A HUUUUUUUGE thank-you to everyone that contributed to our Indiegogo campaign.
With your help, we collected $6267 for the team. That’s a whole lot of swag: stickers, waterbottles, Social Media shoutouts on Facebook and Twitter, T-shirts, stickers, trucker hats, raffle entries for NHL jerseys (Johnny Bower and Gordie Howe), our classic blue Union T-shirts, Matt Chellew serenades (OK only one was purchased, by Union alumni and MVP, Stats Dolan!), a Chris Bracht heckle, an Origami session from Peyton Leung, and sublimated Union jerseys…
Deep breath, exhale…
We can’t thank you enough. The Ultimate community is alive and well in Toronto. We have been overwhelmed by this campaign and the contributions you have made. We have been equally overwhelmed by the Tweets, Posts, Likes, Favourites and shoutouts over Social Media. Feel free to ReTweet, Like and Share our posts over the next few months as we descend upon Lecco for WUCC 2014 and the USAU Championship Series in the Fall.
A special shout out to Dee for putting the campaign and team video together – what a great success for the team! Thanks!
And now for a formal thank you to all of our contributors (Indiegog names used for privacy purposes, you know who you are):
- Jeremy Swampillai
- Our 9 Anonymous contributors
- Marg Galloway
- Logan, Quinn and Riley Cahatol
- Jason Chan
- Harry Burkman
- Mike Milne
- Max Power
- Baron Lam
- Mark Gravely
- Jeremy Hamm
- hinmeister x 2!
- Monty and Ferguson
- Erika Ivanic
- Dario Zgrablic
Thanks again, we will be in touch to sort out your swag and the NHL jersey raffle.
We’ll make you proud in Lecco!
The US Open was a special experience. We went to face seven elite teams, one after another with no breaks, byes, or buffers, in an international gauntlet of ultimate. The tournament was one of many revelations and surprises, not the least of which was just how much of a gauntlet it would be! By now our result has been made pretty public — standings-wise a disappointing 6th, but of the seven games, five were time-capped marathons decided by a single point, and of those, four went to universe (double game) point. We left with a firm statement that we can compete with every team at the pinnacle of our division, and perhaps more importantly, with a chip on our shoulder.
That said, purely as fans and supporters of our sport, there were many moments that caused us to step back and appreciate what a special experience this was.
For the leadership, it started during the application process way back in January. With 4 bids automatically granted to the top four US teams from US nationals, only 4 spots remained for other top US teams and international talent. We had a good resume, coming from Canada as its most recent champion, but our nationality became an issue since we technically could have qualified through the 2013 USAU series. Of course, we hadn’t taken that opportunity, and, boosted by an endorsement from Ultimate Canada, we were relieved and excited to receive an invitation.
For others, it began when we saw the official list of teams that would be present. This tournament was the most consistently competitive tournament many of us have ever, and may ever, attend. Chad Larson Experience, the mixed champion at the last WUCC, gave us our first taste of elite US club ultimate in 2013 when we sacrificed a late lead at Poultry Days to give them a hard fought win. AMP, whom we had only ever faced in tryout form, would this time be in form as a perennial contender at USAUs. Wild Card, an extremely athletic and skilled team, we had already faced twice this year — the first being a tough 13-9 loss and wake-up call at Boston Mixed Easterns, and the second, a nail-biting universe point win at Boston Invite. Rounding out the competition were The Ghosts, another WUCC-bound team who have been a superpower in the northeast for the past few years; a team from Colombia, unknown but could run systems very different from what we’re used to; and, oh yeah, last year’s two USAU finalists, Drag’N Thrust and Polar Bears.
Looking at our schedule — Day 1: CLX, Colombia, AMP; Day 2: The Ghosts, Wild Card, Drag’N Thrust; Day 3: Polar Bears — promised a grueling road that would be part whetstone and part crucible…
Organizationally, the US Open was as professional an event as we had attended. Nearly every game had a complement of orange-shirted, and let’s say ‘eager’, Observers. Every field was immaculately lined four times around — a white field perimeter, a dotted sideline players’ line, an equipment line, and finally a coloured flag line for fans and spectators. Each field was equipped with a sideline tent for each team. An ultimate development convention ran simultaneously for organizers of ultimate, highlighted by a keynote address that featured 4-time Olympic hockey medalist Jenny Potter. Even the player ID cards on the lanyards around our necks were of utmost professional quality. All of this was for good reason — 15 games were to be broadcast between NexGen and ESPN3; the US Olympic Committee, which operates like the Ministry of Sport in the US, had just officially recognized Ultimate as a sport; and CBS was in attendance to produce two prime-time TV segments on Ultimate. Needless to say, the fields sported lush grass, a flat grade, and soft soil. This was Ultimate, cresting through puberty and realising it was time to put on pants, get a haircut, and get a job.
When it came to game time, we’d like to to think that we weren’t quite firing on all cylinders on Day 1. But the confounding truth is that we played two top US teams that were hungry to prove that their missing out on WUCC bids was a mistake. Iowa’s CLX and Philly’s AMP were no joke. Elite teams have a way of diverting you from what has worked in the past, making you question your strengths, expose your weaknesses, and adapting to your game while being resilient in the face of your momentum. Both the CLX and AMP games went to universe point, and while both final points were rife with mistakes & heroics, turnovers & chances, we came out on the wrong side twice.
Sandwiched between was our game against the extremely speedy & elusive Colombian team, One to One. We carved out an early lead in that game, and while we couldn’t seem to break the game open, we carried our lead to the finish. 1-2 was a disappointing start to the tournament, but any two key moments flip our way and it could have been a 3-0 day.
Day 2 brought with it a new slate of competitors, and the added pressure that our results against these two Lecco-bound teams from Boston could have seeding implications at WUCC. The day began as we had imagined Day 1 could have ended — another two universe point games, but this time both were heart-stopping wins — first against the experienced The Ghosts, and then against what was turning into our comic book nemesis with our third meeting in three tournaments, Wild Card. At this point, with 4 universe point games in 5 matches, our minds were swirling with such thoughts as –
- are you kidding me?? this is a joke, right?
- no no no no not again no
- just another day at the universe-point office
- my poor heart
- why me?
- i am going to need medication
Thankfully, there is no medication quite like winning, and if our plan this year was to find mental adversity in order to persevere through it, we were getting our money’s worth. Not to mention the fact that we had more total minutes of game time than anyone else, so our team’s bargain-hunters and value-seekers were naturally thrilled.
The showcase game to close out Day 2 was nothing short of a disappointment. You could call it nerves, you could call it pressure, you could call it mental exhaustion. You could say that having set a clear precedent for universe point matches we suspected it might be inevitable.. without actually having to work for it. But Drag’N Thrust is the US Champion for a reason – they showed a smart game plan, a positive mindset, a fierce athleticism, and an implacable determination to make a statement that gave them an edge over and over again. We couldn’t help but have flashbacks of our lopsided finals loss at CUC 2012 at the hands of Odyssee, and will have to ensure that we similarly find and take the lessons to learn from the showcase match.
Our final game, on Day 3, still had playoff implications & like any ending, had the ability to shape our lingering thoughts of the tournament. Of course, any urgency from that thought, or any fire from the embarrassing loss to close out Day 2, were MIA at the game’s outset. It was a strong upwind/downwind field, but the Polar Bears gave us regular trouble scoring in any direction, showed an impressive ability to huck upwind, and served us an 8-2 halftime score. But with some strategy and line adjustments, mental fortitude, and reliance on the potent depth of our team, we started a slow change of momentum. 9-2 became 10-3, then 12-5. Then the dam burst — an unrelenting series of cohesive, energetic plays would nearly see us complete an incredible comeback, scoring the final point but just barely falling to the Bears 14-13. In an encouraging footnote, they would go on to win the tournament.
Despite all of this, despite the encouraging performances, the lessons learned, experiences shared, the heart-skipping moments, and the Mirror Maze, our biggest surprises and takeaways came when we returned home.
In talking to our friends, family, and community, we were overwhelmed first by how many of you knew about the tournament, and would ask about it. But far more than this, we were surprised to find how much you already knew, because you were with us, through twitter and boxscores, facebook and text messages. It was comforting and humbling and flattering and unexpected.
Echoing this, while we were gone our IndieGOGO campaign swelled generously. To date, we are at almost twice our original goal. We can’t thank you enough for your funding, your facebook shares & likes, and, let’s be honest, your interest in our swag.
It is one thing to know that we are going to Italy to represent the best of ultimate from our country and community. It’s another thing entirely to know that our country and community are behind us.
Come August 2nd, we will be ready, with fire in our legs and confidence on our minds and pride in our hearts.
We are launching this Indiegogo campaign to help fund our season, culminating with our trips to the US Open (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and World Ultimate Club Championships (Lecco, Italy), 2 of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. With your help, this funding will help give us the best chance at going for the gold on North American and International soil. We believe in our strong, unified, passionate, goofy, hard working team and we know we can do it with your help. Our core values are respect, attitude and work, and we will work hard for Canada.
Click the Campaign link here to see the funding levels and what prizes you receive for each. Thanks to everyone!I
In 2013, we won the mixed division at the Canadian National Championships, improving on our silver from 2012 and earning the right to be one of the teams representing Canada at the upcoming World Ultimate Club Championships, taking place in Lecco, Italy.
This tournament will feature the very best Club teams in the World, all fighting for GOLD. We will also be attending the USAU Championships, attempting the ‘double peak’. This season is a lifelong dream for our players, and the result of a compelling 2013 season that saw us assertively win Canadian Nationals. This is the culmination of a four-year journey with Union, the team that finally re-united a fragmented mixed scene in Toronto elite Ultimate.
With our first tournament of 2014 out of the way, I can’t help but think of the opportunities we have this summer.
As mentioned in my previous post, 2013 seemed like a season of challenges – hurdles, speed bumps, struggles – that were overcome. Seemingly negative in context, due to the stresses they cause, challenges are what make us learn and grow as individuals and as a team. They are what make us better and are necessities on any road to success.
Opportunities are often the flip-side to challenges – hope, excitement, possibility. This season, we have afforded ourselves many great opportunities due to the challenges we went through last year. We have the opportunity to:
- call ourselves National Champions and wear gold with pride
- prepare the team – training, roster, strategy, fund-raising
- attend the US Open – likely the most difficult and deepest tournament in the world
- play in Italy for the World Ultimate Club Championships – #notbad
- meet and tackle a whole new set of challenges – injuries, burnout, defeat
We get to say we are Canadian National Champions! We worked our asses off, we were considered the underdogs despite our 2012 silver but we won.
We get to seize the opportunity to train and make the most of our physical abilities, pick from the best players to fill roster gaps, refine and prioritize our strategies and host kick ass, bleary-eyed, team building fundraisers to help alleviate the financial worries that these opportunities can create.
Our success over the past two years has given us the opportunity to play in the US Open and hopefully repeat what Odyssee did last year – a Canadian team taking home the cash prize. This is the premiere event on the planet, with the deepest field of any tournament we will play.
Gold has given us the opportunity to represent Toronto, Ontario and Canada in Italy to show that we can play with the big boys and girls from the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Columbia and Japan. We get to go play a sport we love, living in Italy, on the shores of lake Como, while sipping prosecco from our water bottles.
As a team we should feel very excited and fortunate to have these opportunities – to represent our country, play the highest calibre Ultimate, meet new people and travel to fascinating new places. Opportunities also lie within each game, each team meeting and every team bonding experience – take control of a game, 100% cuts, full attention in strat sessions, giving feedback, being the dude that orders shots. We have the opportunity to face new challenges this summer, learn from them and succeed because of them.
However, the summer will be measured by what we do with these unique and thrilling opportunities. The key is to make the most of our opportunities, to have no regrets and be content with our efforts as we dissect our play on the long roads home from Boston, Minneapolis and Lecco.
We cannot rest on our laurels as Canadian champs, because no American teams will care, let alone Stache, TFP and Gecko. We can’t go to the US Open simply happy with the opportunity, we need to show the world (ESPN 3’s world) what Union Ultimate is all about. We can’t go to Italy simply to enjoy the sights, we need to show how past challenges have galvanized us and to take advantage of the biggest opportunity of our playing careers by winning Worlds.
One of our players recently said this:
“Our time together at practice and on the field is precious. There will always be work stress, family, babies, and the all important question of what’s for dinner. None of that matters when we’re on the field. We need to be in the moment. While you’re climbing those steps to Sunnybrook use each one to clear your mind and prepare for practice. Opportunities like this are few and far between so let’s not let it slip away.“
Boston Mixed Easterns was our first challenge. We finished 5th. We had higher expectations. But I’m excited because we have another opportunity to compete with Wild Card, and the other elite teams, this weekend at Boston Invite.
Our goals are to win and be the dominant team from Canada. The challenges we faced last year have provided us with many excellent opportunities. It is not everyday that we get these opportunties, so it is up to us to make the most of them.
I've never played for a team that I enjoyed as much as this!— Every past player on the team
Union is the best team I've ever played against. They were super spirited, but challenged us on every level.— Some former opponent