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South For The Fall: Potential Canadian Participation In The 2021 USAU Series

An update of what each top Canadian club team is planning to do this season.

Toronto 6ixers celebrating their quarterfinal victory at 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Kristina Geddert -- UltiPhotos.com
Toronto 6ixers celebrating their quarterfinal victory at 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Kristina Geddert — UltiPhotos.com

While there are still plenty of unknowns about the 2021 USAU club season, one major outstanding question looms large for regions abutting our neighbors to the north: Will Canadian teams cross the border to compete in the Series?

There’s two main elements to this question. One, will border restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic allow Canadian teams to travel south?1 And two, will those teams choose to participate even if they are legally allowed?

Historically, both women’s and men’s teams from Toronto and Vancouver have qualified and made the trip to the USA Ultimate National Championships. In 2019, Québec Iris joined those four teams by qualifying for the fourth and final slot from the Northeast region. Not only did the country send five teams to San Diego, but there were banner seasons from other Canadian teams pushing toward USAU’s Select Flight. How many of these teams will once again choose to compete in the USAU Series during this wild season?

Another consideration to take into account is that Ultimate Canada has recently scheduled the newly minted Ultimate Canada Invitational for the weekend of Oct. 2-3, one week after USAU’s Northwest, North Central, and Northeast Regionals. For teams who are hoping to qualify for the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC), Ultimate Canada has allocated at least one WUCC bid in each division to be awarded from this invitational tournament. There will also be a bid for WUCC awarded based on 2019 Canadian Ultimate Championship results with Vancouver Furious George, Montreal Lab, and Toronto 6ixers having won the men’s, mixed, and women’s divisions, respectively.

With how quickly conditions have changed throughout the pandemic, it’s obvious that things will continue to evolve as the next few months roll along. But to gain at least an initial insight into what the picture could look like this fall, here’s a rundown of how some top Canadian teams did in the USAU Fall Series last year and their current plans for participating this season in the US and/or at home.

Women’s

Toronto 6ixers

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (1st), USAU Nationals (2nd, Pro Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (1st)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Maybe

One could argue no North American team had a more impressive 2019 than the Toronto 6ixers. The Toronto squad won the Canadian Ultimate Championships against fellow USAU qualifier Québec Iris, finished 3rd at the Pro-Elite Challenge, won Northeast Regionals defeating Boston Brute Squad, and finished 2nd at the USA Ultimate National Championships. Their momentum has been building for years, and 2019 was the year where everyone saw what a well-developed 6ixers squad could do. The 6ixers have been finding the right balance of veteran leadership and young burgeoning stars in the Toronto ultimate community.

The team has finalized a roster and it should be announced soon. To get some competition later in the summer, 6ixers plan to play Iris in a scrimmage weekend.

“We are paying attention to the COVID-19 situation and understand that plans might change depending on how the variant progresses,” said captain Jordan Meron. It’s a wait-and-see approach for 6ixers as they decide if they want to participate in the USAU Fall Series. The 6ixers have registered for the Ultimate Canada Invitational. Having won gold in 2019 and with a WUCC bid already in hand, it will be interesting to see how Ultimate Canada awards a WUCC bid if 6ixers win this year’s UCI as well.

Vancouver Traffic

2019 Finish: USAU Northwest Regionals (2nd), USAU Nationals (T-9th, Elite Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (3rd)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

In 2019, Vancouver Traffic won the Select Flight Invite-West, finished 2nd at Northwest Regionals, and finished T-9th at the USA Ultimate National Championships losing to Raleigh Phoenix in the Pro Flight Play-In game. It will be interesting to see how a newer roster develops chemistry in this shortened season as the Vancouver squad is adding 11 rookies. Vancouver continues to inject the squad with talent by adding some out-of-towners from smaller ultimate communities such as Sarah Norton from Edmonton and Madison Ong from Saskatoon.

A fixture at the USAU National Championships, Traffic once again intends to compete in the club Series south of the border. The Vancouver squad also intends to attend the Ultimate Canada Invitational and is one of the favorites to take the remaining WUCC bid available at this year’s UCI.

Québec Iris

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (4th), USAU Nationals (14th, Elite Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (2nd)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

For the provincial-based squad Québec Iris, 2019 was a breakthrough year. Iris finished 2nd at the Canadian Ultimate Championships, 2nd at Boston Invite, and defeated New York Bent in the game-to-go at Northeast Regionals to qualify for the USA Ultimate National Championships — their first appearance since 2016.

Iris has a unique setup as they attract female-identifying players from across the province of Québec and pod practices are commonplace in major cities. This year, the program has run pod practices both in Montreal and Québec City and have been able to offer practice opportunities for 50 players across the province.

Iris has concluded tryouts and just released their roster, and it comes with plenty of firepower with Jessie Grignon Tomás and Anouchka Beaudry listed as returning players. The team is looking to play in the USAU Fall Series only if it is safe and secure to do so. Alison Fischer, their coach, noted that they would not fly into Sectionals so the land border would have to be open for Iris to participate in the Fall Series. Wanting to secure a bid for WUCC, the 2019 Canadian silver medalists intend to participate in the Ultimate Canada Invitational.

Winnipeg Fusion

2019 Finish: USAU North Central Regionals (3rd) (Select Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (5th)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: No

Winnipeg Fusion has finished third at North Central Regionals twice in the last three seasons (2017, 2019) with both losses coming at the hands of Minneapolis Pop. Fusion saw success during the regular season winning Classic Flight level tournaments Spirit of the Plains and Heavyweights in 2019. However, Fusion won’t be able to repeat this year as they will not be going south of the border.

Fusion plans in the future to attend and participate in the USAU Club Series and, with its geographic location, it makes a lot more sense. By traveling to these tournaments, they are able to access higher-level competition that they may not find in their area or province in Canada.

Fusion does plan to attend the Ultimate Canada Invitational with a smaller squad that is focused more on development and keeping the young players involved with the program.

Halifax Salty

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (6th, Select Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (Did not attend)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: No

Halifax Salty made an appearance at Northeast Regionals in 2019 for the first time since 2016 and made the most of their trip to Devens. Finishing 6th and qualifying for the Select Flight was a great accomplishment for the Halifax contingent. But after a year off with relative isolation in Atlantic Canada, Salty have had time to reevaluate their team mission for 2021.

Lauren Haley, one of the captains of Salty, commented on the new vision: “We established a modified team mission for 2021, which is to provide a low-commitment, inclusive, and engaging opportunity to women in the Maritimes who want to develop their skills, meet new people and participate in local frisbee opportunities like practices, scrimmages, and local tournaments. As a result, we’re planning to play it by ear to determine if we will attend any competitive tournaments towards the end of summer/fall, but any attendance in 2021 would be with the aim of development rather than performance.”

Salty does not intend to compete in the USAU Series. The team has registered for the Ultimate Canada Invitational.

Ottawa Stella

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (9th, Classic Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (4th)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: No

Ottawa Stella was close to a USAU Nationals bid in 2018, losing in the game-to-go to Toronto 6ixers and finishing as the top Select Flight team in the Northeast region. But losing a couple of players to Iris for the fall series weakened them in 2019 and they finished 9th in Devens last time out, not qualifying for the Select Flight.

As of right now, Stella is not planning to go to the US to play this year but plans to attend the Ultimate Canada Invitational in their home city.

Men’s

Vancouver Furious George

2019 Finish: USAU Northwest Regionals (2nd), USAU Nationals (T-9th Elite Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (1st)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

From a team that didn’t make Nationals in 2017 to two straight top nine finishes, Vancouver Furious George has continued to use the abundant talent in the city to retool and grow. In 2019, Furious George won Eugene Summer Solstice, defeating Portland Rhino Slam! in the final, and followed that up with victories over GOAT in the finals of the Select Flight Invite-East and the Canadian Ultimate Championships.

Over the course of the pandemic, Furious was able to practice as a team for a couple of months, including completing an intrasquad scrimmage to cap the 2020 fall season.

Captain Kevin Underhill reflected on what they plan to do for the year. “Of course, the safety and comfortability of our players and coaches comes first,” he said. “It’s worth saying that we’ll only attend the US Series if it’s allowed and we deem it is safe for our group. With that in mind, we are currently planning our season around being able to compete in the fall. At this point, we can only control our own training environment and preparation. When it comes to competition elements, we’ll have to be flexible and ready to take opportunities when they become available to us.”

The defending Canada champions fully intend to play in the US Series but have not yet decided if they will attend the Canadian national invite. If Furious is not allowed to go to the United States, it would be more likely they would be making an appearance at the Ultimate Canada Invitational. Furious released a roster that includes some former GOAT players in Jay Boychuk and Toly Vasilyev along with the high-flying Darren Wu. Furious has been building for the last few years, so it will be interesting to see what kind of dent they can make in the USAU Series in 2021.

Toronto GOAT

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (3rd), USAU Nationals (13th, Elite Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (2nd)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

In 2019, GOAT had some close finishes coming in 2nd at both the Select Flight Invite-East and the Canadian Ultimate Championships while coming in 4th at the Pro-Elite Challenge. Their USA Ultimate National Championships did not go the way they hoped as they finished 13th overall.

GOAT is looking to continue to build on the younger contingent of their squad as some of their mainstays get older. GOAT is intending to play in the USAU Series in 2021 and have also registered for the Ultimate Canada Invitational. Their roster has not been released yet and it remains unlikely they will hold a formal tryout process.

Winnipeg General Strike

2019 Finish: USAU North Central Regionals (3rd, Select Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (3rd)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

Like their female counterparts in Winnipeg, General Strike has continued to emphasize the USAU Club Series as a way to see good competition. The team from Winnipeg finished 3rd in USAU’s North Central region but came away with big victories during the season defeating two national qualifiers in Pittsburgh Temper and Minneapolis Sub Zero.

General Strike is currently planning on competing in the USAU Club Series (if border restrictions let up) and are also intending to participate in the Ultimate Canada Invitational.

Captain Mat Ladyman noted, “We have decided as a team that even though we have a very new team we want to compete and go into the UCI with the goal of winning and qualifying for worlds. We are looking forward to the Fall series in the States to get our first game reps.”

Halifax Red Circus

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (5th, Select Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (Did not attend)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: No

For Halifax Red Circus, the USAU Series is one of the only ways they can get great competition. Isolated as they are in the Maritimes from most other teams, this Halifax group finds it’s just as easy to compete in the United States as it is to find Canadian opponents.

Red Circus did not compete at the 2019 Canadian Ultimate Championships in a worlds qualifying year. Instead, Red Circus competed in the USAU Club Series, coming in 7th at the Select Flight Invite-East, then participating in the Elite-Select Challenge.

Unlike last season, in 2021, the Halifax group does not have any plans for US travel this year but has signed up for the Ultimate Canada Invitational.

Ottawa Phoenix

2019 Finish: USAU Northeast Regionals (6th, Select Flight), Canadian Ultimate Championships (5th)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Maybe

Ottawa Phoenix has been a Select Flight fixture in the Northeast region, losing in the game-to-go-to-the-game-to-go in 2015, 2016, and 2018. The team is hoping to build upon its young core but like other small-to mid-sized ultimate communities, some of their top players end up commuting away to play for other cities. If Ottawa can find a way to keep its homegrown talent in house, the team could continue to make it far in the Northeast region for years to come.

In regards to 2021, the team has remained undecided on what it will do for the USAU Fall Series. For now, they are focusing on the AUDL Canada Cup season with many of the players playing for both the Phoenix and Outlaws. We could potentially see a decision made after the AUDL season and when travel restrictions are more clear. Carson Turner, a captain of Phoenix did confirm they plan to attend the Ultimate Canada Invitational and hope to win a bid for the 2022 WUCC.

Mephisto2

2019 Finish: Did not compete in either USAU  or Canadian Series
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

As recently as 2017, Montreal Mockingbird was a decent threat in the USAU Series,  losing to New York PoNY in the game-to-go that fall. After missing out on competing in 2019,3 a newly reformed and rebranded open team is now ready to take center stage in Montreal. Led by multi-time Team Canada coach Jon Hayduk, Mephisto is focused on building a cohesive and long-standing Montreal-based open program and consists of a lot of players on the Montreal Royal of the AUDL.

Hayduk indicated the team would pursue playing in the USAU Fall Series. Mephisto has already played in a one-day tournament in Québec City in July 2021 winning every game, and they hope to play in the national tournament in October. As they continue to build a cohesive program don’t be surprised if you see this team knocking at the door of a USAU Nationals bid soon.

Mixed

Saskatoon Bunnies

2019 Finish: USAU Northwest Regionals (9th), Canadian Ultimate Championships (Did not attend)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: No

In 2019, the team from Saskatchewan took down the competition at Big Sky Sectionals defeating national qualifier Montana MOONDOG in the final 12-10. Heading into Regionals as the #4 seed, the Bunnies came in with some high expectations. They struggled in pool play coming in 4th based on point differential knocking them out of bracket contention on the first day.

For 2021, you will not be seeing Bunnies on the field both in Canada and in the US. Shana Yates, a captain brings the bad news, “Coming out of a pandemic, we didn’t find it feasible to field a team without acknowledging the higher possibility of injuries. We thought this would be a good year to continue getting back into frisbee shape, building our culture, and getting ready for the 2022 season.”

Toronto Union

2019 Finish: Did not participate in USAU Fall Series, Canadian Ultimate Championships (5th)
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Maybe

Toronto Union has the unenviable task of being in a stacked Northeast region. Their most recent Northeast Regionals appearance was in 2018 where they came in 7th. On the Canadian side of things, the Toronto group underperformed the high expectations as they lost in the quarterfinals to eventual silver medalist SOUP. Union has concluded tryouts and should have a roster announced soon. Union has registered for the Ultimate Canada Invitational but has not decided on plans for the USAU Series at the time of this writing.

Vancouver Red Flag

2019 Finish: Did not exist
Planning to compete in 2021 USAU Series?: Yes

The last time a Canadian mixed team made the USA Ultimate National Championships was in 2013 when Montreal Odyssée came in 7th. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a mixed team from north of the border really challenge in the US, but is this the year that streak is broken?

Enter Vancouver’s Red Flag, a new mixed team that has numerous Team Canada members and former Traffic and Furious George players. Their rosters include names such as Edward Guo, Peter Yu, Katie Wong, the Mot twins, Sophia Chan, and Mat Goodkey. The Vancouver group is champing at the bit to get some competition as the team actually formed in 2020 but have yet to play a US tournament. They are planning to attend both the USAU Fall Series and the Ultimate Canada invitational.

With so much uncertainty surrounding border restrictions, a lot of the top teams have committed to participating or are seriously considering participating in the Ultimate Canada Invitational. The tournament is conveniently scheduled away from USAU Regionals and Nationals, but it does provide a tight timeline of playing in two major national championships within a one-month period. With most teams having been away from the field for close to two years, it will be fascinating to see which teams decided to participate in both tournaments and which teams focus more on development and building towards 2022.

Either way, this season will be full of surprises and Canada will be watching.


  1. As of right now, the land border (driving by car) between the US and Canada is still closed and is scheduled to be closed until at least August 21st. 

  2. Returning to a previous name for the program after a few years as Montreal Mockingbird. 

  3. Mockingbird planned to attend Western New England Sectionals, but there was a risk of EEE and field locations were changed last minute, forcing Montreal to back out. 

  1. Theo Wan
    Theo Wan

    Theo recently left his teaching career to start a podcast about Canadian ultimate. He is a self-professed ultimate nerd who is willing to talk ultimate to anyone who will listen. He has captained an open club team out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and resides in Toronto. He is one half of the Huckin Eh’ Podcast, your coast-to-coast guide for all things Canadian Ultimate. Theo is a fan of all teams Toronto and is a diehard fan of the Michigan State Spartans. You can reach him on Instagram (@wan_and_only_sports) or at huckineh@ultiworld.com.

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