After a couple of months of planning, we pulled off our 2nd Annual Charity Ultimate Tournament last weekend. My friend TJ is a great ‘ideas’ kind of guy. He approached me in January and suggested we try to make this year’s tournament bigger and better. Last year we had 44 people join our overnight Ultimate tournament (11pm-4am is a tough sell). Even I wasn’t all the keen on staying awake during my prime sleeping hours. This year we decided to try for an all-day tournament. We secured our indoor location, Soccerworld, for March 30th. TJ thought it would be a good idea to try 4 vs 4, and to divide the soccer fields into smaller playing fields. Sounded great to me. Having very little tournament experience, and absolutely no experience with the 4 vs 4 format, I had no idea what I was in for.
We started spreading the word, and in no time we had teams and individuals signing up. We ended up with 14 teams from all over Ontario (London, St Catharines, Hamilton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston, Oshawa) and even some brave souls from Buffalo. 145 amazing individuals signed up for our tournament! A 3.5-fold increase from last year. We even had VC Ultimate jump on board and offer a great deal on jerseys. This was turning from a few friends gathering to play Ultimate, to a legitimate tournament!
Two weeks before the event, I found out that my ‘team of volunteers’ who were supposed to be securing grocery store gift cards to pay for the tournament food weren’t having any success. With 2 sick children, a husband organizing a conference and then away at the conference, we had to do some last-minute scrambling. Incredibly, we were able to secure over $300 in gift cards from Fortinos, Metro, Whole Foods, FreshCo, and Sobeys. More than enough to supply a lovely array of bagels, fruit, granola bars, Gatorade, etc.
Thankfully TJ knew what he was in for, and had no trouble working out playing schedules for our Competitive and Recreational divisions. After some last-minute behind-the-scenes stressful moments (timing changes, accommodating individuals and juggling a multitude of scheduling needs), tournament day arrived. It went off without a hitch. Looking at the facility from above, it was a beautiful display of organized chaos (see picture below). Our most spirited team, Inner Ninjas, even arrived with personalized jerseys, swords, bandanas, prizes, and music! I can’t speak for anyone else at the tournament, but I had a great time. I love watching good Ultimate, and I love playing mediocre Ultimate (I bet I’d love being really good at the sport too, but I’m happy where I’m at).
From registration alone, we were able to raise $5000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. There are more donations coming in daily from Ultimate players who weren’t able to attend the tournament. Being able to donate funds to vital research is what gives me hope for my daughter Sophia’s future. What an awesome community to be a part of. Thank you Ultimate players. We’ll see you next year for an even bigger tournament!!