McMaster women's ultimate frisbee team wins national championship
The team's hard work paid off at the 2023 Canadian University Ultimate Championships where they took home the gold
The McMaster University women’s ultimate team just concluded their all-around dominant season with a first-place finish in the 2023 Division One Canadian University Ultimate Championships. This win marks the first time in club history the team has won the national championships.
Recently McMaster has had experience playing on the national level after finishing second just last year. Next year the team hopes to have a competitive edge given the team chemistry they have the opportunity to build amongst the 15 returning players, including co-captains, Jessica Gao and Safeena Shajani.
“Some of our veteran players definitely carried that [winning] mentality and it spurred the entire team to improve and work hard during practices,” explained Gao.
The ultimate frisbee season typically consists of a few tournaments and lasts about a month. McMaster started their dominant season by winning the Steeltown Tournament on Sep. 26 for the first time since 2014. Finishing in the top spot also earned McMaster the only bid to the Division One Championships given out at this tournament.
The team went on to compete in the Canadian Easterns University Ultimate Championships on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 where they won against Toronto Metropolitan University in the quarter-final and McGill University in the semi-final before a narrow loss to the University of Toronto. Their finals game came down to a universe point--the last game-determining point after the clock runs out.
The tough loss gave the captains and their team a push heading into the Division One Canadian University Ultimate Championships. Especially as McMaster went on to face many of the same teams again on Oct. 16 and Oct.17.
“If we’ve played against a team before, we know what kind of defense they like to run and we think about how we want to beat that defense. And we know [who] their key players are – the players we have to focus on more and allocate some resources to shut them down,” explained Gao.
McMaster put on an impressive performance throughout the national championship in pool play and playoffs. The team finished with a strong nine-four victory over the University of Manitoba to win the championship.
Winning the championship, however, was not the focus of the season. Regardless of the circumstances, the McMaster Ultimate Club emphasizes controllable factors such as discipline, commitment and hard work every year.
“A huge part of how we approach each season is focusing on what we have influence over – team discipline, commitment, attitude. We’re very much a process-oriented team, not an end-goal-focused team,” explained Shajani.
Both captains also emphasized the team growth and individual development they’ve witnessed throughout this year. Winning the championship is a bittersweet ending with McMaster Ultimate for a couple of other veteran players, Gao and Shajani included.
“It’s a culmination of all your hard work over the season and over all the years playing Mac Ulti,” said Shajani.
With an experienced, high-caliber roster and a solid foundation, there’s lots more in store for the McMaster women’s ultimate team.