Ultimate honour for frisbee champ
15 May 2012
Antarctic studies PhD student Crystal Lenky isn't just talented in her field of expertise, Antarctic seals, but she is also an accomplished Ultimate Frisbee player.
Antarctic studies PhD student Crystal Lenky isn’t just talented in her field of expertise, Antarctic seals, but she is also an accomplished Ultimate Frisbee player.
Crystal was recently named New Zealand Ultimate’s Best Female Player of the Year for 2011 and was selected for the New Zealand women’s team, Whaitiri, which will compete in the World Ultimate and Guts Championships in Sakai, Japan, in July. In addition to playing, Crystal will also serve as vice-captain, having been selected by her team-mates for her skills and leadership.
“I originally started playing socially while studying in Canada in 2006, but have since moved to a more competitive level in New Zealand. It was a real honour to make the national team and also be recognised by my peers for all the hard work I have been putting in to develop my game,” she says.
Crystal says Ultimate provides the perfect lifestyle balance between her PhD research on Weddell seals, and extracurricular activities.
“My supervisors are really supportive of me playing at an international level and I think they understand it’s a great balance for me with my studies,” she says.
“Ultimate is a great game. There is a real sense of community and I have developed life-long friendships with many players over the years.”
Crystal, who will complete her PhD this month having come to the University of Canterbury for the Antarctic Studies Programme in 2008, says she has taken her disc on fieldwork expeditions.
“I have been to Antarctica twice for research, the first time in 2007/8 for three months and again in 2010 for two weeks. I even took my disc with me but I didn’t have much time to play. We were working 19-hour days in the field.”
The Canterbury Flyers Frisbee Club representative says she hopes the sport will gain a higher profile in New Zealand.
“Ultimate is an exciting, non-contact seven-aside team sport, played all over the world. It mixes the best features of sports such as soccer, basketball, American football and netball into a simple yet fascinating and demanding game,” she says.
“It’s a really popular sport throughout the world and a lot of people don’t realise how big the game is overseas. We are working hard to boost the profile of Ultimate inNew Zealand but we lost some traction with that locally after the earthquakes. Hopefully soon we will get back out there into primary and high schools and show young people here what it’s all about.”
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