When a frisbee comes flying towards her, Megan Daly has milliseconds to process how she’ll catch it, where her feet will land, and where she’ll send it spinning onwards for her teammate to snatch from the air. Ultimate frisbee is a game of fast reflexes, manual dexterity and careful strategy – a far throw from the casual game people play on the beach.
Now 18, Megan first found enjoyment in playing frisbee in Year Nine when some of her friends brought a disc to throw around at school. When she was in Year 11, she was recruited by the Chinese International School (CIS) team and was competing in large tournaments by April 2015.
The ultimate rules are built on trust and sportsmanship, and emphasise “the spirit of the game” above all else. This is the idea that players take part because they love the sport, not the winning, and there are no official referees – everyone follows the rules and admits when they made a mistake.
Going away overnight with a team can be an intense experience, but this is one of the aspects of Megan’s sport that she finds most appealing, she says.
“I really enjoy the team atmosphere that I get from the CIS team. Going to tournaments together, especially weekend-long ones where you’re “stuck” with your team are the best. We come out of them playing better as a team, and having truly enjoyed the experience together, win or lose.”
Last October, the team entered the two-day HK Pan-Asian Tournament 2016 in Tai Hang Tung. The team practised the “horizontal stack”, which is an offensive play, in anticipation of their rivals’ defence tactics.
Regardless of how much a team prepares for different situations, it’s impossible to rehearse how a match will go. A formation perfected during training can unravel under the pressure, adrenaline and rivalry of a match. Her teammate Jasper Ng, who was featured in Young Post not long after the tournament, described how CIS got “pummelled” during the tournament.
“We entered the tournament seeded last, and we were really not expected to do particularly well,” Megan reflects. “Despite this, we had a few games that we could have won, and one that we did win. Ultimately, it was our own mistakes in failing easy throws and catches that were our downfall.”
Like Jasper, Megan wasn’t phased by her team’s defeat at the hands of more experienced competitors; instead she took pride in her team’s resilience and supportiveness, as well as becoming the first secondary schoolers to compete in an adult tournament in Asia. Plus, she was voted her team’s “most valuable player”, or MVP, which was “pretty amazing,” she adds.
Although the sport has many high-profile, major league players, the sport doesn’t have the history or media exposure yet to cultivate icons. So, instead, Megan admires the volleyball player Micah Christenson and tennis player Rafael Nadal as her heroes. “They were so successful at a young age, but keep a level head, and really love the sport they play ... these are traits that I hope to embody,” she explains.
Playing ultimate is a great base to explore other sports, and Megan also loves volleyball and hockey. A team player to the end, she loves riding out challenges and celebrating as a squad, and she doesn't like letting others down. Ultimate may be physically demanding, but, she says, “The feeling of success when I manage to learn a new skill or when my team and I win a tournament makes the training worth it by far.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
I suppose I’m channelling Michael Phelps a bit when I say that Lose Yourself by Eminem is the first song that comes to mind. When you’re playing a sport you really do have to fully concentrate on what you’re doing. The moment the oncoming test or task pops into mind is the moment you start to mess up.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
Maybe a monkey … They’re similar to a human, but they have a better vertical!
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
I don’t really eat anything specific before a big event. If it’s a full day of sport I do make sure to eat a good breakfast. Maybe a bacon toastie and some noodles?
Which fictional character would you choose as your team mate?
I didn’t really know how to answer this, but my friend suggested the Road Runner, and I have to admit, it’s a great idea! Having someone who can run that fast (assuming the Road Runner could catch), means that my throws as a handler wouldn’t have to be all that accurate, as they would more than likely be caught anyway!
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company are you a spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I really like Nike, probably because a lot of the athletes that I support are spokespeople for them. I think I’d want to promote the sports clothes, because I would love to have a huge collection!
Edited by Ginny Wong