Her years of throwing javelin and playing netball, basketball and “a bit of touch footy” have led Ellie Seckold to her favourite sport – Ultimate Frisbee.
“Ultimate is so addictive,” laughs Seckold, who is now based in Melbourne. “It’s said to be a combination of netball, soccer, and gridiron [American football] but the coolest thing about the sport is how it’s scored and that it’s self-refereed, even at the highest level.”
Seckold played for Australia in the Ultimate championships in Royan, France in 2017, where her team was awarded a bronze medal. She has also been selected to play in the European Championships, held in Portugal in May this year, followed closely by the Asia Oceanic Championships in Japan in June.
“Ultimate is different from other sports in that the scoring is based partly on points scored and partly on the ‘spirit score,’ where each team rates their competitors on things like positive attitude and self-control,” says Seckold.Lacking a referee at a world championship level means “knowing the rules inside out,” says Seckold, adding that there is a protocol for settling disputes where each team has the chance to agree or respond to a decision.
This means that being a good communicator and a team player in Ultimate frisbee is just as important as physical conditioning and skills, says Seckold.
“There’s a branch of Ultimate called ‘Ultimate Peace,’ which teaches the sport in areas with high conflict, such as the middle east,” says Seckold. “Having to agree on where points are scored brings people together, plus you need very little equipment to play – a disc and a few drink bottles to mark the endzone.”
Ultimate is played on both grass and sand – Seckold plays both but says she prefers playing on sand, “especially as I get older, it’s nicer on the body and means I don’t have to deal with a swollen knee after training!”
Although she came to the sport late in life in comparison to her teammates [Seckold began playing at 26] Seckold has fast-tracked to a high level, drawn into the tight Ultimate community and camaraderie.
Ultimate is unique in that the sport is played in both gender-segregated and mixed teams – Seckold has played for both.
“Ultimate is so much fun,” she says “but it’s also a fast, serious game and Ultimate players are true athletes.”
Seckold trains hard for six to seven months before competing in international championships but still enjoys a casual game on the beach – so much that she has begun holding beach tournaments for beginners on Melbourne Bay, the first on New Years Day this year and the second on Australia Day.
“They’ve been really successful, with about 35 people turning up,” Seckold says. “But my dream one day would be to do the same thing around Bega. We’ve got the most beautiful beaches!”