April should be my favourite month, but in reality it turned out so challenging that it will eventually become a long post. I need to put it into perspective first. I see how Ultimate Frisbee (or any other sport) is not only about the things you can and can’t do. It’s also a mental game. One that a sports psychologist can help with. In that case, you can start with catching up with 5 Questions With…Julianna Czapska. A pro in the topic.
Back in 2017 sparked to life an idea for these interview. It was at the World Games and with my team, Ultimatum Gdańsk, we were cheering for Team Canada. Canadian Ultimate always seemed like an inspiration. That’s why I was looking forward to the interview with Mark Lloyd so much. You may know him from playing for Team Canada, an American Ultimate Disc League and some really impressive full field hucks and D’s!
Name: Mark Lloyd
Height: 189 cm
Plays Ultimate Since: 2001
Team: Team Canada
Favourite throw: Forehand huck
Favourite type of the tournament: One that blends competitive play with fun
Favourite division: Open
1. How did you first get into Ultimate Frisbee?
I first started playing Ultimate at my school. It was a grade 1-12 school, and in grade 5 and 6 we had an intramural league we played at Lunch. So my first time playing was at that age, from there we would travel to different tournaments all throughout school. Ultimate was a big part of my grade school experience.
2. What does this sport mean to you?
This is a very interesting question, it has meant a lot of things to me. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. I think when I think of Ultimate at its purest form it is an escape for me. It is something where I can play and forget all the other stressors in my life. I have met a lot of my best friends through the sport and it is have provided me so many great experiences that I would not have gotten otherwise.
3. Men Ultimate gets certainly more exposure than Women Ultimate. What do you think about the debate about Women Ultimate in AUDL? Do you think that a new approach from AUDL would affect the popularity of Women Ultimate and how the players approach the subject?
This is such a tough subject to tackle. Do I feel that Women deserve the same amount of exposure as men when it comes to Ultimate, 100%. I have played with and against so many talented Ultimate players of all gender identities that I hold no biases towards any gender. Where it gets tough is which form of our sport is the best way forward, single gender or mixed? I don’t have the answer to that question. The AUDL was launched as Mens league, and when I got involved as an owner and player I was trying to move the needle and get more awareness for the entire sport. It hurt me to realize that we were only progressing Mens ultimate. It’s hard to ask people who have invested (and are losing money) to promote Ultimate to change their product, which is why it has been slow to see change within the AUDL. That is not me implying that Men’s, Mixed or Women’s Ultimate is better or worse than the others, but they are different products. The AUDL has committed to putting work into a Women’s league, but if the PUL maintains their success than I think the two can work together to promote Ultimate, but also Women in Ultimate.
Now when it comes to affecting the popularity of Women in Ultimate, I feel that is already on the rise. Fulcrum Media has done a great job to get more Women’s content out there for people to consume recognize the talent that exists in the women’s and Mixed division. The biggest thing is that we need to find a way to get participation rates at a younger age to increase. This happens with our local organizations having programming for kids. It will help if they have a goal like World Championships, USAU, PUL or AUDL to push for and so therein lies the importance of adding more awareness for the sport so kids have those role models to look up to when they first start the sport.
4. Pro Ultimate often involves observers. Do you think that their role is crucial in executing compliance to SOTG rules? Are the players often flopping, faking injuries or calls?
Another controversial topic. I feel that at its purest form, self-officiated Ultimate is the best system. That being said, every year I have lost an important game because I have felt the other team took advantage of the rules. Sometimes it is unintentional but our hidden bias as competitors sometimes blurs the image of what actually happened. I have played games with Refs and Observers where they are looking to make calls instead of letting the game play out. There may be a bit more clutching and grabbing in AUDL games and players do get away with a chop of the arm before you catch the disc which leads to a turnover, but I also know that that may happen with a ref and I have never felt a game has been lost because of a ref or observer.
SOTG, when done right, is the best system, but it also leaves us open to really being hurt.
5. During the match at The World Games 2017, there was a situation where you caught the disc at the same time that a player from Colombia. You’ve decided to act according to the SOTG rules. As a result, Canada didn’t get to play the final game against the USA. Is Spirit more important than winning and do you think it was a good decision at that time?
Manuela either caught that disc before me, or at the same time as me. If I had gotten it first I think she would’ve had it in her hands at all. Is that one specific play the reason we weren’t in the finals? I don’t think so. It was the right decision and that is why it was a good decision.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the interview. Do you have some thoughts about the above mentioned topics? Go ahead and let’s stir some discussion! Either here or at Introverted Ultimate‘s Facebook page. As an interview wrap up, here’s a bonus question from the fans for Mark. ?
Would you be up for marking NBA’s James Harden and prevent him from throwing a 3-Pointer?
I mean I would try my best, he would probably hit the 3-pointer on me, or at the very least draw a foul.
What’s your Ultimate Frisbee story? Would you like to share it? Feel free to message me on Introverted Ultimate or via email. I’ll get back to you with 5 Questions. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!