Mikhaila Dignam chose to start playing ultimate Frisbee as a college student because it was a cheap and social way to exercise.
- Australia’s top players take part in the Mixed Ultimate Championships in Shepparton this weekend
- Organizers say the sport is growing in popularity across the country
- Players must referee the match themselves
A decade later, the Geelong player is still hooked.
She joined her first league for $25, guaranteed pizza after every game and went on to represent Australia in sport.
This week, Dignam is one of more than 600 players in Shepparton for the National Mixed Ultimate Championships.
Ultimate Frisbee is not played until the officials and players call the shots.
“It’s a very accessible sport, so all you need is grass, cones and a frisbee – no referee required,” Dignam said.
“Some people ask how it works – it does.
“From the day you start playing Ultimate, you learn the importance of integrity, fair play and honesty in sport.”
Turn on the world stage
Ultimate has been around in Australia since the 1970s and the national mixed championships started in 1988.
Although some only know frisbee as a game to be played with pet dogs, Ms Dignam says there are talks of ultimate frisbee becoming an Olympic event.
The National Mixed Team Championships bring competitors from across Australia to a regional city each October.
Anna Haynes, National Event Manager for Ultimate Australia, has been playing for almost 20 years.
During this period, she has seen Australia grow in stature in the sport.
“We actually go to the World Games…and this year we won the silver medal against the United States in Birmingham,” she said.
“This is one of our best results to date.”
Most Australian adults would never have had the opportunity to try ultimate frisbee in primary school.
But that is starting to change, according to Ms Haynes, who says more than 8,000 Australian schoolchildren have learned the sport.
“A very special sport”
Select athletes taking part in this week’s Shepparton competition will receive invitations to national selection events to be held in Melbourne in November ahead of the 2023 Asian Ocean Ultimate Championships and U24 World Ultimate Championships.
Although it is an accessible sport at the amateur level, professional players are self-supporting and pursue full-time work in addition to training.
Ms Dignam said it was worth the chance to represent Australia.
Competing overseas has connected her to a global community of like-minded people.
She tried many sports before discovering her passion for ultimate frisbee.
“I played netball, I played football, I played touch football,” she said.
“Ultimate is a very special sport, because of the culture and because of the attention from the community.
“It’s the people and the connections and just the athleticism of the game.”