Photo by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com

Vancouver has had a well-run and popular high school Ultimate programme for almost 20 years, and that as much as anything has been the foundation for the consistent success of Vancouver-based teams on the national and international levels, a tradition the Vancouver Nighthawks are planning to extend.

Exhibit A: Oscar Pottinger of the Vancouver Nighthawks.

Oscar began playing 14 years ago when friends convinced him to try out the sport. I spoke to his high school coach Dave Knudsen, and found out that Oscar remains one of the best and most memorable high school players he has mentored over his 20 years of coaching. Oscar arrived on Knudsen’s Prince of Wales team in 1998 when he was in grade 10, but had to bide his time the first year as the team was already a power on the local and national scene.

Knudsen picks up the tale:

“Oscar and his friends really took advantage of the opportunity of learning from an experienced group of seniors with a motivated coach. In grade eleven they took over, going undefeated provincially and nationally. He was the best player at the Junior Nationals that year, 2000. In 2001, still running under the same name, DFA, otherwise known as Don’t F*** Around, which of course we couldn’t put on the trophy, we did the same thing, an undefeated season. Oscar was my male captain both years and only Derek Alexander of Ottawa had anywhere near Oscar’s game. DFA, in those two Nationals, the team ended up with a plus 200 point differential largely due to Oscar’s ability to play both sides of the disc, his leadership, and his inexcusable cuteness which discombobulated the girls on any team DFA played.”

How’s this for a first year at top level competition?

1)      Led high school team to undefeated record in city league

2)      Led high school team to undefeated record at Provincial Championships

3)      Led provincial junior team to undefeated record at National Championships

4)      Led junior team to undefeated record in Latvia as they captured the WFDF World Junior Championship

5)      Joined Furious George for their win in the open division at WUCC in Hawaii

Among many other achievements, he was a captain for Canada’s WUGC World Championship team in 2008, and played on three UPA Club Championship teams, the third time as captain.

Oscar is clearly an impact player.

As his coach Andrew Lugsdin says, “He’s a player that can get a big layout block and then throw a big huck for a goal. He’s a big player for the team on both sides of the disc.”

Oscar’s skills are evident to anyone who sees him on the field, but what makes him a truly dominant player, and made him an obvious choice for a co-captain role for the Nighthawks, is the way he parlays those skills into leadership.

As Lugsdin says, “Oscar has been playing in big games at the top club level since he was a teenager and he’s never hesitated in those moments, so he’s a natural leader for the team. Guys respect him because of how hard he plays, and how he always keeps a calm head.”

Fellow Nighthawks captain Morgan Hibbert adds, “Oscar is the most talented player on the team. He is definitely our leader on and off the field. He’s the only one that brings together the total package of fire, heart, skill, athleticism, intelligence and leadership. The team’s success relies heavily on his presence, which can be felt off the field just as much as on it.”

Oscar’s goals for the season? “I hope to provide some experience and be a helping hand in the team’s success both on and off the field. I hope the team competes for the title and becomes a relevant sports club within the Vancouver sporting community.”

With the leadership that Oscar provides, I wouldn’t bet against it.

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