Ultimate Canada Magazine – June 28, 2019
Written by: Derek Kief
Pride. Self-pride, team pride, sport pride. The word “pride” can mean a lot of different things. We, as Ultimate players, often express pride in our sport in a multitude of ways: colourful jerseys, playful banter, and Spirit. Spirit of the Game is what sets Ultimate apart from any other sport. It is at the very centre of what it means to be an Ultimate player, and the world sure needs a whole lot more of it.
Three years ago, a diverse group of athletes got together on a cold, Vancouver, snowy (yes we had snow that year!) December day to throw the disk over the fresh snow. We represented a wide range of skill and experience with Ultimate, and yet, we all were there, laying out in the snow. The day happened to be quite sunny, and everyone felt inspired by the inclusive, active, entertaining experience we had. That was the day Rain City Ultimate Club (RCUC) was born. Rain City Ultimate Club is the LGBTQ+ Ultimate organization in Vancouver, BC. We are an Ultimate club that focuses on inclusivity and promotion of Ultimate in a fun and positive way. Our programs are as diverse as the people who are in them: we have active teams every season in the VUL, Vancouver Ultimate League; we run a yearly themed tournament over Vancouver’s Pride weekend in August; we run beginner clinics and practices, and we are active in the community in promoting active, healthy ways to connect with other people. Our mandate is simple: To provide a safe, comfortable, and amicable environment for LGBT2Q+ individuals and allies to play Ultimate in an atmosphere of friendly competition, free of discrimination, in accordance with the true spirit of sportsmanship. What does that mean? Well, we want to play Ultimate.
So why do we do what we do? We see the connection between Ultimate and inclusivity and diversity. We see how beautiful it is when two teams come together, colours mixing, laughing, to play a Spirit game. We know how sometimes it is challenging to have someone call a foul on you, and to push your ego or initial emotional response aside to see things from their perspective. Spirit of the Game is so integral to what Ultimate is that it becomes a way of life. It is the way we as Ultimate players say, “I acknowledge and respect you”. This handshake between people is what is missing from so many places in our lives. If we can take a small piece of that Spirit and put it into how we treat other people, how we teach our children, how we interact with those that do not have the same opinions as we do, we are spreading the love and power of Ultimate to others.
As people from around the world celebrate Pride, we are reminded that we live in a world that is both beautiful and ugly. We celebrate diversity and inclusivity in our sport, but we need to look beyond our own world, our own bubble. Some people celebrate pride with joyous festivals representing the freedom they have in being their most authentic selves, but many people cannot. Pride for many is a time of protest, of injustice, and of survival. Some of our friends, our teammates, members of our Ultimate family are being beaten down, oppressed, and attacked for their identity, for who they truly are. We understand the importance of letting your true colours shine through, and it is through that lens that we pride ourselves in being Ultimate players. But we need to take it a step further.
I challenge you this Pride season to reach out to someone. It might be someone on the field, or someone at work. Maybe someone you just see on the street. Share a bit of the Spirit of Ultimate with them. Show compassion, listen to understand, and remember that even if we are on opposing teams, we are all Ultimate players. Take pride in who you are, and share that pride with others.