YORKTON - When American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) announced its divisional all-star teams recently Alex Arsenault was the Ottawa Outlaw on the East Division.
“It’s a pretty big honour to have that sort of highlight. I’m pretty thankful,” said the Moncton-born ultimate player.
The Outlaws cutter said the all-star nod is perhaps most-appreciated because it verified that hard work helps a player get ready.
Arsenault said it suggests “the effort I put in in the off season” was worth it.
So did Arsenault realize he was putting together an all star type season this summer?
“In general I don’t pay too much attention, or too much important on that myself,” he said, adding it has never been about individual success. “I want performance for the team. I believe first and foremost in team success.”
In that regard the Outlaws scuffed in 2022, finishing last among the seven east division teams with a record of 2-10, just behind Toronto and Montreal the other two Canadian teams in AUDL which both had 4-8 records. New York topped the east going without a loss.
Arsenault said the east division is not an easy place to shine with several top teams including the perennially strong New York Empire and the usually consistent Toronto Rush.
“It makes for interesting games but it makes it a little tough for us to kick through and make it to the playoffs,” he said.
Of course rivalries with Toronto and Montreal are natural, especially with the Rush.
Arsenault said Ottawa has always sort of been “the little brother to Toronto’s big brother, so there definitely that rivalry.”
For Arsenault the introduction to ultimate was something he decided to try largely just for fun.
“I was invited to play in a rec league by my high school basketball coach, (Michel Woodworth),” he recalled. “I got coaxed into going (by friend Jonathan Arseneau), and sort of fell in love with it.”
That said, it wasn’t exactly the game that sold Arsenault on ultimate.
“I met some super interesting people,” he said. “. . . At first it was just the people I was hanging around with, then I fell in love with the competitive aspect of the game.”
It probably helped too that a lot of the skills Arsenault had learned on the basketball court transferred to ultimate, especially in terms of defending.
“The defensive aspect is quite similar to basketball,” he said, adding that is particularly true of needing good peripheral vision to read how a play is developing.
By 2008 Arsenault was trying out for AUDL with both Montreal and Ottawa, moving to the nation’s capital to play with the Outlaws.
Since then Arsenault has seen AUDL grow significantly – today there are 25 teams across Canada and the United States.
Initially Arsenault said he was just happy to be in the league, but added growth is not surprising either.
“At first I was sort of under the spell of being able to say I was playing a sport as a professional,” he said, adding that is a dream most young athletes have.
But, Arsenault also recognized something unique with the AUDL.
“There was nothing like it in the ultimate Frisbee world. The level of interest was quite high, so I can’t say I was surprised,” he said.
So, what lies ahead for the Outlaws after only two wins in 2022?
Arsenault said the team is closer to winning than the record indicates.
“I would say we’re quite close, but of course I’m biased,” he said.
The Outlaws added several rookies in 2022, and it took them time to become “accustomed to the play style of the AUDL,” offered Arsenault, but the experience gained should help next season.
“I think we’re just on the cusp,” said Arsenault.