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Two Collingwood athletes headed to Ultimate Frisbee world games

Jason Cunningham and Lindsay Earle leaving Fisher Field for trip to Ireland to compete in the World Masters Ultimate Club Championships
UltimateFrisbee
Lindsay Earle and Jason Cunningham play ultimate frisbee in Collingwood on Fisher Field, and will be headed to Ireland for the world championships later this month.

For two Collingwood athletes, there's a whole world in a flat, round disc, and it's helped them see more of the planet we live on. 

Lindsay Earle and Jason Cunningham are competitive Ultimate Frisbee players, both on the road to Ireland for the World Masters Ultimate Club Championships June 25 to July 2. 

Currently, both are members of the Georgian Bay Ultimate Club, which gathers on Fisher Field on Thursday nights for games and practices. 

Earle has been playing the sport since high school, and started competing with her university team. She's been a competitive ultimate athlete since 2005, and that has included two world championships as well as national and regional match-ups. Her competitive team, Reunion, is headed to the championships in Ireland, and it is made up of athletes from across the GTA. They will be competing in the mixed masters division.

Cunningham started playing later in life, when he was in his 30s, in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton area. As a competitive ultimate player, he has been to Pan Am championships, and is one of seven Canadians on the Israel-based team, Handle With Care, which is headed to the world championships to compete in the Grand Master Open division.

Ultimate Frisbee  or Ultimate for short  is named such because it was created as the ultimate sport combining aspects of other team sports for one game. Teams of 25 typically play seven people on the field at a time, with a switch out when a point is scored. A game ends when one team reaches 15 points.

The game is played on a football field, though narrower, and a point is scored when a team catches the Frisbee  a 175-gram disc about the size of a dinner plate  in the end zone. A player cannot move while holding a Frisbee, so the disc is advanced by passing only. Teams mix offence and defence into their plays, and add a lot of running, jumping, and diving to live up to the "Ultimate" in the sport's name. 

There are no referees, instead, the sport relies on what's known as "spirit of the game," which is an honour system requiring a player to call their own fouls. 

Ultimate is a physically demanding game, and a competitive sport that requires time, money, and commitment, but Earle and Cunningham say it comes with its own rewards that have kept them playing for years. 

"It's the community piece," said Earle. "It doesn't matter where you go, there's always a team and a community." 

She said there's a low barrier to entry  all you need is a field to play on and a Frisbee. A pair of non-metal cleats is also recommended. 

Both have travelled for their games across Canada and the U.S., and also overseas for world events. 

Cunningham said he's enjoyed the team bond. 

"The team I started with went two seasons without winning a single game, but we stuck together," he said. 

Collingwood Collegiate Institute has started an ultimate team, and Cunningham's daughter is learning the sport.

The Georgian Bay Ultimate club has also started a junior league and both Cunningham and Earle are coaching. 

For more about the Georgian Bay Ultimate Club, which plays Thursday nights at Fisher Field  juniors at 6 and adults at 7  visit georgianbayultimate.com. All levels are welcome, and there's a sign-up form on the website. 

To learn more about the World Masters Ultimate Club Championships in Limerick, Ireland, visit wmucc.sport.


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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