Photo by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com
Or to be more precise, five of the Nighthawks are hoping to take on the world.
When you are the only professional Ultimate team in the country on top of the Ultimate world rankings, your players are going to be in demand. That’s why the Nighthawks will be missing five players and a coach this weekend for their rematch against the Portland Stags at Thunderbird Stadium.
Nighthawks Assistant Coach Jeff Cruickshank and players Andy Collins, Aaron Loach, Matt Berezan, Morgan Hibbert, and Nick Menzies will be attending a training camp and final tryout for spots on Canada’s team for the Ultimate event at the upcoming 2013 IWGA World Games, which will take place in Cali, Colombia, from July 28-30th this year. This multi-sport event is probably best described as the Olympiad for sports like Ultimate that are not included in the Olympics.
Based on the results of the 2012 WFDF World Ultimate Championships in Sakai, Japan, Canada is one of six countries which qualified teams for participation, along with the USA, Great Britain, Colombia, Australia, and Japan.
Last September tryouts were held in Vancouver and Toronto, and the five Nighthawks players mentioned above impressed enough that they were invited to a training camp in Toronto this March, and now this weekend’s training camp in Kelowna in the British Columbia interior. The camp will be run by Cruickshank, who is coaching Canada’s World Games team.
At present there are still ten men vying for seven spots on the team. (The Ultimate event at the World Games is co-ed, so there are also six spots for female players.) That makes this weekend’s camp a tense event for the players, as three will be cut after the weekend. But the Nighthawks players might have some advantages over the other five players still in the running.
Says Aaron Loach, “The purpose of the training camps is to establish who is playing well with whom, so that the roster can be finalized. All the players are very skilled, so the decision will be less skill-based and more team cohesion and chemistry oriented.”
Given that the representatives from the Nighthawks have been playing and practising hard for the MLU, season they should exhibit great chemistry on the field. And then there is the matter of the coach.
As Nick Menzies points out, “Making the final selections will difficult for coach Cruikshank. But having him double as a Nighthawks coach means that for the five of us every Nighthawks practice and game has also been a tryout and an opportunity to prove oneself for the World Games team.”
Of course, the players regret missing a Nighthawks game.
Morgan Hibbert says, “Missing the Nighthawks game is definitely a bummer, but representing my country has always been a dream of mine and something I take very seriously. This is an opportunity I feel very fortunate to have received.”
Andy Collins agrees.
“It sucks that we are going miss this game against Portland. We know every game at this point in the season is crucial. But for me, playing in the World Games has been something I have wanted to do for some time now, plus when we signed up for the World Games tryouts, we had no idea that the MLU opportunity would come along for us.”
“It helps to know that the Nighthawks have so many great players, and I have no doubt that this week they will bring it. Having Kevin Underhill and Keanne Knapp back will also help. “
I am sure the Nighthawks teammates will do their best to make sure no one even notices these five players are missing. You can find out if they can pull it off by attending this weekend’s game. Get your tickets here.