Ultimate sporting life for Bridget Forsyth & HVHS

Bridget Forsyth and Jack Doile had good reason to be absent from collecting their Ultimate Frisbee Player of the Year accolades at Sunday night’s College Sport Wellington awards.

The pair, along with several of their HVHS girls and boys teammates, were in Auckland at a New Zealand U20 squad training camp ahead of the Asia Oceania Junior Ultimate Championships.

The junior men’s team (Katipo) and junior women’s team (Kahu) are heading to Manila for the tournament between 11-16 December.

“After that we have another training camp in January, which will be out final selections for the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden next July,” said Bridget who is year 12 and returning to HVHS next year as female Sports Captain.

There are 40 players in each of the men’s and women’s junior training squads and approximately 20 will be selected in each for the world’s next year. “The Wellington region is well-represented as a whole,” enthused Bridget, “there are about 12 Wellington girls and eight or nine boys that are part of these squads.”

The upcoming trip to the Philippines won’t be Bridget’s first time overseas with New Zealand.

“In the last two years I have played in three international competitions. In October 2017 I went to Sydney with the Kahu team and we beat Australia in a three-game series, in August 2018 I played for Kahu in Canada at the Junior World Championships and we finished eighth of 13 teams.”

The boys finished fifth of 18 teams at the same Junior World Championships in Toronto – against countries such as Canada, the USA and Columbia who have a much bigger pool of players.

The third trip was with her club side. “In April this year I travelled with my club team, Capital Punishment, to Townsville and competed in the Division 1 Australian Nationals where we were sixth. I was the youngest player in the team.”

Bridget started playing at school, after mainly playing netball before that. “In 2017 I went to my first ever tournament, which was the nationals and I really enjoyed it and I never looked back. When I first played for New Zealand I dropped everything else and frisbee is my sport now.”

Bridget both captains her Hutt Valley High School team and organises and co-ordinates the local winter terms indoor Ultimate competition that is played at the ASB Centre on Wednesdays, which is the main Wellington schools league.

2019 Hutt Valley High School Ultimate Frisbee girls team

This year at the NZ Secondary School National tournament in Taupo in Summer Tournament Week, HVHS  finished runners-up to Auckland’s Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, after winning in 2018.

“In ultimate frisbee competitions there are two awards, the ‘Spirit’ award and the one for winning the title [beating Gisborne’s Lytton High School in the final].  In 2018 we won both, which was a very proud moment for HVHS, considering we had never won a school championship before.”

“This year we lost to EGGS in the final, which was a bit disappointing, but we had a couple of injuries and it was more of a development year for us with some new players. But I am still super-proud of my team and how we went.”

The HVHS boys team also finished second at this year’s NZSS nationals, beaten by Auckland Grammar School in their final.

Thirteen schools attended the NZSS tournament from across the North Island and this included two schoosl making their first trip – Katikati College and Sancta Maria College.

Ultimate is broadly a cross between netball and American football and played on a football/rugby field. There are seven people on the field at a time with no offsides and with scoring boxes at each end. Players can’t run with the frisbee, it is a non-contact sport and a dropped disc is a turnover, so it is all-action the entire time.

Ultimate is also a self-refereed sport, so sportsmanship and respect for the opposition are extremely important values to all players. The Spirit of the Game Award (noted above) celebrates these values.

As well as the trip to the Philippines coming up and then hopefully on to the Junior Worlds in Sweden, Bridget will be travelling over to Australia again early next year with her Capital Punishment club team after winning the NZ Nationals again in March.

“There is also the mixed season, which is on at the moment. I play for a mixed team called Marvelous DC and we won the tournament last November so we are hoping to defend that title at the end of this month.”

Before that she has four NCEA Level 2 exams between 12-26 November and continues to train hard around that, and has a personal trainer, Liam Haberfield who is one of the leading New Zealand senior men’s players. “So he is also someone who is playing the sport and knows the specific areas I need to work on.”