Little did Mark Evans know that a chance promotion by Coca-Cola Amatil would lead to a long and distinguished career as an Australian representative athlete.
Born in England but raised in Sydney, Mark was always a big sports fan and loved tennis and water polo – earning representative honours in both sports.
He will line up for the Sydney Suns in this years Australian Ultimate League (AUL) after over a decade of playing Ultimate for Australia and it call came down to a chance encounter with a promotional product.
“One day in high school a friend of mine brought in a promotional Coke disc,” he said.
“We were throwing around when someone decided to look up the game. We played on an imaginary field between four trees, it was really raw but such good fun.
“My school friends and I joined a local league under the guidance of our friend, Phil White, who had already represented Australia at this point. “That was all it took, we were hooked.”
From throwing a promotional disc around a field made of trees, Mark would go on to play for the U24 Aus National Men’s Team in 2010, the 2012 and 2016 Australian National Men’s Team and also represented his country in 2017 at the World Team Games.
Adapting the athleticism for AUL
Mark is serious about his standing as an athlete and studies the sports science aspect of it as well to ensure that he maintains peak fitness.
It is necessary toil, with Mark describing the athletes in the AUL as the best in Australia.
“The physical prowess required is also a lot more than most people think and I love the challenge of learning all about sports science and pushing my body to its limits training alongside my teammates,” he said.
Part of the AUL challenge for Mark has been adapting to a professional league that is 100 per cent mixed gender. Mark has played on mixed gender teams many times before, but all of his elite level Ultimate had come in Men’s teams before the AUL commenced in 2018.
It is a challenge he relishes.
“We are all humans and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” he said.
“Men have dominated the sporting limelight for the entire history of mankind. Now it’s time for women to shine.
“Mixed Ultimate is an interesting beast. Having men and women playing their hardest on the same field obviously poses some challenges due to differences in height and weight of players.
“Mixed Ultimate also requires a more advanced set of skills than single gender. Throwers are constantly needing to scan the field for poaches and adjust the speed/height of their throws – it’s very exciting.”
The future of AUL and Ultimate
At 29, Mark is looking forward to many more years in the sport and is excited about what is to come.
“The future of Ultimate is bright, the sport is growing, and fast,” he said.
“As parents and schools look to push their kids towards sports that will set their children up to take on the world, Ultimate will only continue to shine.
“The values that the sport encourages are by far it’s biggest selling point and mean that the sky is the limit for Ultimate.
“As the sport continues to gain exposure it’s only a matter of time before we are accepted into the Olympics and start to make real ripples around the world. 2028 is our year.”