The World Flying Disc Federation kicks off its Under 23 World Championships on July 21st, and it looks to be an exhilarating, week-long display of Ultimate’s finest young adults. This year, teams from all over the world will be traveling to Toronto to showcase their respective countries’ talent. Some will travel farther than others.
Australia has a history of strong performances at Junior Worlds tournaments. In the 2010 U23s, Australia placed 1st in the Women’s division and 5th in the Open division. The Goannas’ mental fortitude, sound character, and conditioned work ethic look to propel them up the ranks, further establishing Australian Ultimate on the world scene. This year, their Women’s team, the Stingrays, and their Mixed team, the Bluebottles, will be traveling to Toronto as well. Naming teams after dangerous Australian animals is a tradition.
A cursory internet search of the word “goanna” will inform you that it is the name used to refer to any number of Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus. I sat down with Australia U-23 head coach Dan Rule to talk about the team and the tournament. He informed me that goannas are featured in Australian folklore, known for dragging off sheep and people in the dark of the night. “Beware the goannas,” he says.
Skyd: How do you think Australian-style Ultimate differs from other countries’ play?
Dan: As a general rule, Australian teams are well-conditioned and have strong off-field support around them. Our style is a simple, fast game, and respect on the field is earned through hard work.
S: What is the driving force behind Ultimate gaining popularity in Australia?
D: AFDA [Australian Flying Disc Association] has three full-time development officers on the ground in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, and they are contributing in a massive way to the sport’s growth.
The Australian Flying Disc Association is the governing body of Ultimate in Australia.
S: Describe the Goannas’ team mentality going into U23s.
D: We have focused heavily on building well-rounded people, not just Frisbee athletes. Through time management, focusing on other aspects of our lives, as well as focused mental, physical, and technical preparation for this event, we are ready and confident about displaying our skills in Toronto.
S: That’s a pretty unique mental approach. How do you think that will work out against other teams?
D: Our commitment to sound fundamentals and team structure will give us every chance to compete with our opponents anywhere, anytime. There are many rivalries for us at the tournament. We try to treat each game the same.
S: Let’s get some names into the mix – Who are some players you expect to make huge plays? What about the guys who fly under the radar, but are still huge assets to the team?
D: Our captain, Tom “Cupcake” Tullet, is a key defensive play-maker who narrowly missed out on World Games selection this year. Look for Louie “Trenner” Maserai to make plays on defense as well. Kyle Atkins has one of the strongest marks that I have ever seen; good fundamentals all around. Alex Ladomatos and Andy Wood are workhorses for our D-line.
Dan Rule has been playing Ultimate for over a decade. His coaching highlights include a second place finish at the 2012 World Ultimate and Guts Championships.
The Goannas have assembled in San Francisco for an exhibition match against Boost Mobile, and of course, In-N-Out. You can follow them on Facebook.