Friday, March 14, 2008

League Profile: Mile Zero Ultimate/ St John's Newfoundland


If you live in a large city, and you're lucky, you still have a few league members who were around during the inception of your respective league. Using Ottawa as an example, these individuals have overseen OCUA go from being started in someone's basement to being a 4500 member league that plays all year.

As leagues in maritime cities are started, we have the chance to watch and help the growing of the game. I heard through friends about a league in St John's called Mile Zero Ultimate and made efforts to chat with them about their league and their game.

Johnny Byrne, president of the league, was more than willing to provide feedback. His entertaining and infomative comments are listed below...


What was your First year of existence?


Mile Zero Ultimate began officially in 2004 with a 12 week, summer league involving 10 teams and approximately 150 players. All ultimate play in Newfoundland and Labrador thus far has been co-ed in nature.

What is the size of the league (teams and total players)?

Since that first summer, the numbers have jumped substantially. The 2007 season saw 18 teams and over 300 players take part. In addition to the summer league, MZU now also includes both fall and winter leagues. The Fall league, started in 2004, is played on field turf at King George V and can accommodate approximately 180 players. Our indoor, winter league with approximately 60 players registered began in 2007.

What makes Newfoudland ultimate unique?

Newfoundland ultimate is like nothing you’ve played in before. Because Newfoundland is anchored in the North Atlantic weather is very unpredictable on a daily basis and as such, players must be prepared for just about anything. Because of the lack of a spring season our summer league must wait until June to begin to ensure proper field management, but even then you won’t be guaranteed good weather. Perhaps the biggest constant though is wind. There is rarely a day in the summer that you will not have to deal with some wind. When wind is not a factor you must be prepared for RDF…otherwise known as rain, drizzle and fog. Another reality of North Atlantic living. The ability to adapt to the changing weather conditions is what separates Newfoundland ultimate

What cities are covered/represented by league and league design?

The league is based in St. John’s, NL, however, it’s range covers the entire Northeastern Avalon Peninsula with players coming St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South and most surrounding communities.

Do you hold/host any tournaments?

Thus far, tournaments have been restricted to several hat tournaments. Two summer staples are the “Toilet Bowl” (pictured) in which teams play for the chance to drink from our coveted Toilet Bowl Trophy and the Gender Split tournament which sees separate male and female tournaments take place side-by-side. Our largest tournament of the year is our summer league playoff tournament “The Flaherty Cup Playoffs”. Coincidentally like the toilet bowl the Flaherty Cup was designed to drink out of. As the premiere trophy of the MZU league its drinking function is more refined than the TB and it operates as a funnel. It is hoped that in the future a bigger tournament can be planned that will see teams from outside of the greater St. John’s area venture to our fine city to take part in an annual tournament.

Do you have any Youth Programs?

There are no organized youth programs at the present time. However, the appetite for youth appetite is growing as many adults introduce the sport at the schools they teach, within other sport teams they coach and parents look for inexpensive, recreational opportunities for their children.

Are there any competitive/touring teams?

In 2006, the first touring team from Newfoundland and Labrador took off from The Rock in hopes of greener pastures taking part in the Solstice tournament in Markham, ON. That team, Granite, finished with three wins in six games and brought a new enthusiasm back to Mile Zero. The next year another team, Mutiny, traveled to Huntsville, ON for the Ultimate Long Weekend. There are currently talks about organizing other teams for tournament travel in 2008.

Flaherty Cup
Courtesy: Mile Zero Ultimate

Plans/Thoughts on sending teams to Canadian Nationals in the future?

There has been talk in the past of sending teams to the Canadian Nationals, however, logistical problems thus far have been the biggest barrier. Newfoundland’s eventual entry into the fray at the National level will undoubtedly send shock waves across the Nation. The addition of the “right” coast will start a chain reaction that will see the power shift the east.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Can you compare players in different eras?


I posted a link to our inital off season training video, and your feedback was appreciated.

One of the best posts was a link to a 1989 documentary of Ken Dobyns and the New York team of 1989. Sadly, it's probably a better documentary than anything we have in this era. But... I don't want to talk about ultimate broadcast journalism right now.

Ken Dobyns at Potlach 2002
Source: Potlach

What I want to talk about is the aura of great players from the past. You see the link Gavin posted and it is true that Kenny Dobyns was a great player in his time. However, the debate remains
  • Would he be great in today's era?
DJ was quick to point out how great Ken D was, and what an athlete he was. But was it relative to his competition? Could a small man dominate now that the 6'5 athletes are creeping into the game. Would Ken Dobyns even get picked for a top team?

Economist J.C. Bradbury tackles the issue as it pertains to baseball. There are a myriad of reasons why you can't compare:
  • Human evolution (we're getting bigger people)
  • Training methods
  • Number of teams and level of competition
  • Equipment and medical factors
Due to these reasons, the relative newness of the sport, and the lack of footage/data of the sport, it's very hard to compare. I don't think it would do justice to make a comparison.

Above all else, it seems that Dobyns had intangibles that would still play well today. He seemed like a pitbull with great fitness. He was super passionate about a game that had less respect from the outside world that it does today (imagine that!).

And the craziest thing? All those athletes we have now will be replaced with guys as tall or taller, as muscular or more, more skilled and faster. The George Mikans of Ultimate will be eliminated.

What do you think?
  • Can we make comparisons of players past and present?
  • If so, do you think the stars of the past would be as successful? Who?