Sport has always been in Chris Stoddard’s blood.
But the Melbourne Flames 2019 recruit found his groove in Ultimate and loves the challenges that mixed gender sport provides.
Chris, 28, grew up participating in a range of athletic endeavours.
He played soccer and tennis, participated in long-distance running and was also a representative at Combined High Schools level for cross country, track and sailing.
But when he first got his hands on a professional frisbee, Chris found his sporting niche.
The rise of an AUL star
Chris has played Ultimate for 11 years now and was called up to the Australian Dingoes side in 2019.
The Newcastle local – who plays for Pie Wagon – said it all began when he discovered the sport through an American connection.
“I actually spent a year or two prior to picking up Ultimate learning how to throw a disc, thanks to an American high school friend,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I began University that I started playing Ultimate.
“The sport is a perfect combination of skill, athleticism and endurance and from the very beginning that was what attracted me and then kept me playing.”
Embracing mixed gender sport
Chris had already been exposed to sports that combine men and women together in tennis and sailing.
That mixed element was one of the major selling points for Ultimate, which Chris plays and loves to this day.
“In a world where men’s sport is put up on a pedestal it is imperative that we choose a different pathway,” he said.
“The more we, as an Ultimate community, present an image of men and women on an equal footing, playing on the same field at the pinnacle of our sport, the more potential we have to change the perception of gender in sport.
“I have always enjoyed the dynamics of playing sport in a mixed environment and doing this at a professional level further cemented to me the fact that men and women bring unique talents and skills to the game.”
Aiming for the Olympics
The continued rise of Ultimate means that the sport is a real chance of being included at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
It would be a huge achievement for all the hard work put in by tournament organisers like those behind the Australian Ultimate League.
“Realistically I think an Olympic berth will be necessary to increase the exposure and create new participation pathways for the wider community,” Chris said.
“I would love to see Ultimate as a legitimate option for school kids to play in the same way netball, soccer and football are today.
“As the AUL and the likes continue to gain traction this is how I see the top echelon of Ultimate progressing, where Nationals is more of a season based thing rather than a tournament, hopefully creating a supporter base and generating more interest for community sponsorships.”