The ultimate team sport doesn't care if you're a girl or a boy

The ultimate team sport doesn't care if you're a girl or a boy

While studying in Hangzhou two years ago, Cheryl Lee fell in love with the sport of ultimate frisbee and hasn't looked back


Cheryl Lee needs to balance strength and skill to be her team's cutter.

Cheryl Lee isn't insulted by the old cliche "You throw like a girl!" Throwing is what this girl does - and she does it well. And as a cutter on her ultimate frisbee team, the Chinese International School student not only throws, but catches, and runs the field as well.

Cheryl discovered ultimate two years ago, and instantly fell in love with the new challenge.

"In Year 10, our school gave us a chance to study in a [sister school] in Hangzhou for a year," she explains. While she was there, she was offered the chance to try a sport that hadn't been an option for her before. "Ultimate frisbee was something I had never tried before, so I made that my sports option for the first semester," she says.

The thrill of excelling at something new was motivating for Cheryl, as it was for others who discovered the sport. Soon after, she and a band of fellow newbies formed a team in Hangzhou.

Now playing in Hong Kong, Cheryl's got her work cut out for her keeping up with the other members of her mixed-gender team.

"My biggest challenge is being able to play on a predominantly male team," Cheryl says, "and distinguishing myself from the males and being able to play [at their level] of skill. It is really challenging sometimes, physically and mentally."

Making a co-ed team work well can be just as challenging as the sport itself. "Playing as a female team member in a predominantly male team, sometimes teamwork just doesn't work out, or you aren't as physically capable as the other guys on the team, so people don't trust you as much to make passes to."

As one of the few girls on the team, 16-year-old Cheryl is aware of her limitations, but realises that her sport takes more than just brute strength. "Physically, I know I can't match up to them," she admits. "But being able to coordinate with them strategically and skilfully with teamwork is a great achievement for me."

And although she finds it frustrating to compare herself to her male teammates, Cheryl says that in the end, ultimate is more inclusive than most other sports.

"Ultimate incorporates so many elements of fair play and good sportsmanship," she says. "It makes it hard to not enjoy the sport!"

Bench Notes

What song/movie title best describes you when you're playing your sport?
Probably One in a Million by Down with Webster. The song has a great party beat, and is all about being the special "one in a million" and being you. Playing on the CIS team is a great time, all the time. Everyone has a great attitude on and off the pitch, and we never get so serious that it stops being fun, so you could say it's a never-ending party of sorts.

You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
I'd definitely choose the power to be able to make drawings come to life. I personally enjoy art and design, particularly animation, and the idea that I could bring my characters and art to life would be an amazing experience, even if just for 24 hours. I could talk to them, they could have other powers ... it would be like taking a stroll into my imagination.

If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
I guess I'd like to have unlimited supply of computer parts? I mean good computer parts, for my laptop. I'm a bit of a design nerd and I'm always struggling with lag while using Photoshop or gaming in general.

10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Imagining myself as a famous athlete is hard in itself, but I would definitely sign on with a design company like Adobe, or maybe Converse, considering that I enjoy design and my favourite pair of shoes is Converse. I would choose to promote either design tools, or shoes, products that hopefully would be able to empower and inspire more girls to start playing in co-ed sports, and give them the confidence that they need to play with the guys.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The ultimate team sport


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