In July 2022, Monash’s very own Zoe O’Connor landed in Cincinnati, Ohio, to compete at her first World Ultimate Club Championships, with her club, Ellipsis Ultimate. We caught up with her to hear about her experience at such a high-profile competition, and to find out more about her journey up to this point.
How did you get started with Ultimate Frisbee?
I got started in year nine, our school had a team and I thought it was really interesting, so I signed up. Our coach at the time actually played for my current club, Ellipsis Ultimate. She had volunteered to help at our school because she was trying to develop the U18 team, because she was also the U18 Vic coach. Lots of us got sucked in by her and she recruited us for the U18s. I really liked the community, and I hadn’t played a team sport before and so I just continued.
What are your favourite aspects about Ultimate, what hooked you?
One of the things that I find creates a really positive environment, is that Ultimate frisbee has no umpires from local competitions all the way to Worlds. Players have to make, and resolve calls themselves. There is a big focus on sprit of the game and sportsmanship. You can’t do something when the umpires not looking or pick a fight with someone, because you’ll have to talk it out with them later.
Also, frisbee is just pretty cool, you can do cool tricks, and it leaves lots of space for very athletic grabs. It’s very fun to watch.
Which club are you representing at the moment?
I play with Ellipsis Ultimate; they are based in Melbourne. It was started as a women’s club, but now we have two women’s teams and one open team.
Can you tell me more about the World Ultimate Club Championships and what that experience was like?
It happens every four years and this year it was in Cincinnati Ohio, in America. I think there were 40 teams in each bracket and there was a mixed, a men’s and a women’s bracket. We were the only women’s club team coming from Australia. It was really cool being able to play against the top teams from every country.
Right before WUCC, there were the World Games, which frisbee was a part of, and I had just been watching all the games on the livestreams, so the Columbian, German, and American teams. Going to WUCC and getting to see and play against the players you had been watching was amazing! The place we were playing at had like 50 fields or something. It was great to play at such a high level.
Our team also had such a great support system, with coaches and team physios, it was really cool just to stay with them for a few weeks and just play frisbee. It was like our own little bubble.
What were some stand out moments for you and the team at the WUCC Games?
I think, four years ago when Ellipsis competed at the games, they came 9th. So, winning the semi-finals and getting into the top eight, was very cool.
There was also our first livestream game, which was against a team that had previously won WUCC. Our final score against them was 15-2 or 15-3, so we absolutely steam rolled them. At half time it was 8-1, which was great because we knew everyone was watching and we were playing really well against the team that had won the whole competition last time. Coming into it, we all knew that we could win, and then beating this team and it being our first live stream game, gave us a lot of confidence.
Also, playing against people that I had watched and followed and being able to play against and defend them properly, was really cool for me. Because at first, I was a bit intimidated, because I thought, I’m still relatively new to this, I’m not sure how it’s going to go and finding out that I can play against them was really cool.
Do you have any advice for athletes building up to intense competition?
I think one thing that really motivated me, was knowing how much I really wanted to do well. I wanted to be able to be proud of my training and so if I was feeling tired or something, knowing that everyone in my team was doing the same and doing it for the team, was really motivating. Everyone was building for everyone else, so if I didn’t feel like doing it for myself, I wanted to do it for the team. It was very much a community orientated thing; we were always chatting online, and everyone was checking in on everyone else and seeing how it was going with training. So, it was great to have the support of everyone.
What are you working on currently, are there any big tournaments coming up?
Well, in our mid-semester break Monash will be sending a team to Unisport Nationals and then after that, the women’s season will start again. Our club has started pre-season training again and later we will have team selections for nationals.
Good luck to Zoe at the Unisport Nationals this year, we are sure that you will help lead the Monash Ultimate team to greatness!
Written by Olivia Mc Mahon