Photo c/o Leah Tackaberry-Giddens
By Eamonn Vallely, Contributor
Chris Chan is a 21 year old, fourth-year integrated science student from Vancouver, British Columbia. He also happens to be one of the most valuable players on the men’s ultimate frisbee team this year, especially after stepping up to the role of captain. Chan is approaching his new title with great mindfulness and targeted goals for the upcoming season.
For the first time this year, the men’s ultimate team has recruited a coach, Troy Booth, a very experienced frisbee player from Brisbane, Australia. This takes a load off of Chan’s back. In the past, captains often assumed the additional responsibilities of being a coach. Despite Chan being a very experienced and well-rounded player, having a couple more hands on deck, including his co-captain Torja Istiaque, offers Chan the chance to focus on the leadership aspect of his job.
Chan explained how much he values Istiaque as a co-captain. Istiaque has what Chan described as a macro-understanding of the game, something that Chan believes he himself lacks. Chan refers to macro-understanding as the ability to see a dilemma and its solution in the context of all factors that impact a game. He described how Istiaque can recognize the solution without overthinking it.
“For me personally, I’ve tended to always focus on very small parts of the game so for example, If I see something going wrong on the field or something [that is] not working out I’ll start thinking about every little thing and every reason why. But for him, he might just be like oh we need to switch this up in our system,” Chan said.
The team recently implemented a mindfulness training routine before games and practices. This idea is based off a book Chris has been reading, by George Mumford, called The Mindful Athlete.
“Re-focus on the present moment so you’re not thinking about varying distractions, so we can play to our fullest,” Chan said as he described the mindset in the book.
Chan’s passion for Ultimate is unwavering and real. This is evident in the way he describes the game and his goals. Chan has a set of objectives, as any leader should, and even though there are only three chances at competitions throughout the season, Chan’s goals are not simply based around a win.
“I don’t want to focus only on results. It’s not about finishing top eight, I just want our team to reach its full potential. I’ve found [that] if you place your focus on results it never turns out well,” Chan mentioned.
Chan believes the pathway to excellence is through treating every practice with the same intensity as a game. If the goals of a team are solely based around numbers, it is difficult to address the pathway to that success. The motivation is to be the best they can be.
The leadership role of captain comes with a unique set of responsibilities. For example, after a tough loss, the captain has to maintain composure and a positive attitude. Chan is fully aware of this and tries to approach every challenge with the concept of improvement. Captains and coaches will discuss attributes of the game the team needs to work on and consciously implement them in practices.
Chan would describe himself as a competitive person who believes that in order to compete at the highest level you have to have a fierce mentality on the field: to be relentless, mindful, selective and smart with your energy.
“I think you have to be if you ever want to compete at the highest level every time you step on that field you’re not thinking oh maybe I’ll go out and play well. You’re going out with the mentality of I’m going to destroy my matchup,” Chan added.
Chan has many goals related to ultimate, not all of which are necessarily confined to McMaster University. Ultimate frisbee is a relatively small sport in Canada, meaning there is a lot of room to ascend to higher skill levels and leagues. Chan strives to obtain a position on a professional ultimate team like Furious George from Vancouver or the GOAT ultimate squad from Toronto. Both of these teams represent some of the best ultimate players in Canada and the pinnacle of high-level disc.