Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/8/2015 (2229 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Back in the summer of 1988, Debbie Young was one of just 13 Frisbee-tossing Winnipeggers who played organized ultimate, struggling to start a league and keep it running.
Flash forward three decades and the city's ultimate scene has changed dramatically. Now called the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports (MODS), that once-tiny league has close to 5,000 players.
'We've grown a lot in the past years, but I think in the next five to 10 years we're going to see a real explosion' ‐ Corey Draper, executive director of MODS
It's been a summer of milestones for the city's ultimate community. In May, MODS launched a youth league for kids from nine to 15. Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized it as an Olympic sport, creating a real buzz within the local community.
And for the fourth time since 1994, Winnipeg is playing host to the Canadian Ultimate Championships this weekend. All finals are set for Sunday at Investors Group Field. Tickets are $12 for the men's, women's and co-ed championship games, which begin at 9:30 a.m.
The organization's executive director, Corey Draper, said Manitoba is "one of the largest ultimate communities in the world."
The popularity of ultimate -- aptly named because of its blend of soccer, baseball and basketball -- has exploded in the province in recent years. And Draper said it's only going to get bigger, as the league solidifies its already strong foothold in high schools and middle schools, and reaches out to even younger players.
"We're still seeing growth, and the retention levels and the growth that we're having especially at the youth level is going to drive (membership) up and up," Draper explained. "The more we involve youth, the bigger we're going to get."
"We've grown a lot in the past years, but I think in the next five to 10 years we're going to see a real explosion," he said.
Jim Fraser, a longtime local ultimate player and a co-chairman of this year's championships, said the sport is finding that balance between big-time international popularity and recreational pastime.
"It's sort of that double-edged sword, where you love to see it evolve and become greater than it's ever been," he said, noting, however, "the (ultimate) community grows so much that some of that grassroots feeling behind it all isn't quite as big a part of it as it used to be.
"It's still there, and if you want that you can find it."