While Yoonha Park knew about Ultimate when she was younger, many of her friends didn’t. Kids were familiar with more mainstream sports like basketball and soccer but many still thought frisbee was the game you played with your dog. So when Yoonha, now a high school player based in Santa Clara, sat down to write and illustrate her first book, she was determined to give young readers a glimpse into what makes Ultimate so unique and so fun. The Ultimate Sport was born.
“I later realized that my draw towards ultimate frisbee was because of how it took a little bit of every sport. I saw ultimate frisbee as a sport that took the best elements of each sport, thus, being the ultimate sport,” she said.
The children’s book, created as part of the GURLS Fall 2020 Program, is the first girls-centered children’s book about Ultimate. It tells the story of Hadley, a young Ultimate player who knows her friends would love to play Ultimate if they’d only give the sport a chance.
Your purchase makes a difference Half of the profits from every sale of The Ultimate Sport will go towards supporting girls programs for youth players in the Bay Area, including new leagues and the GURLS Program. The other half goes to its author, Yoonha. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, women, girls, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender queer individuals accounted for 27% of participants in Bay Area Ultimate leagues, tournaments and events. BADA has a goal to have that number reach nearly 40% by 2024. Your purchase of The Ultimate Sport helps us reach this target by allowing us to invest in more programs focused on underserved genders.
“I hope my books will inspire other young girls to see themselves as the next future of ultimate players, whether they play it leisurely with friends, like the characters in the book, or play competitively on a team.”
About the Author Yoonha Park, a high school Ultimate player who plays for Heartbreak and a 2020 GURLS Year 1 graduate, completed The Ultimate Sport as part of a four-week service project. The children's book was inspired by Yoonha’s own experiences with sports and the sense of community she found in Ultimate.
Read on to learn more about Yoonha and how she created The Ultimate Sport.
Where did the idea for The Ultimate Sport come from? Was this your first book? The idea sparked from my own experiences with sports. I have never been that athletic of a person, so even after trying out various sports, it has always been hard to find a sport that I loved. However, my dad and I would always play frisbee on the weekends, and for some reason, there was something different about frisbee that made me want to play it every single day. I would almost become a different person the instant I saw a frisbee, becoming super energetic -- my friends can attest this.
I later realized that my draw towards ultimate frisbee was because of how it took a little bit of every sport. I saw ultimate frisbee as a sport that took the best elements of each sport, thus, being the ultimate sport. Not to mention, the friendly, welcoming environment of the frisbee community was the cherry on top, making frisbee my favorite sport.
The Ultimate Sport was my first book! I have made several attempts in the past as an elementary student to write a book, but I have never been able to get past two pages, often spending most of my time on the front cover drawing instead of writing the story itself. However, I have been able to complete a book — and not just a cover page — and I am so grateful for the GURLS program for having encouraged me to write and finish this book!
What inspired you to write this book? My friends were the huge inspiration behind this book because my friends play the sports that Hadley's friends play while others do not play any, like Avery.
When we play frisbee together, even though some still prefer their own sports and interests, they realize how it truly is a sport for everyone and how it can bring people together. I wanted to share my friends' experiences with others who may have never played it before, especially young girls, in hopes of encouraging more people to try out the sport for themselves. What do you hope children will learn from reading your book? Knowing that frisbee is a newer sport that many kids may have never heard about, unlike the more traditional sports, such as soccer, basketball, or baseball, I hope that my book will give them a glimpse into ultimate frisbee. I hope that they can see past the misconception that frisbee is just an activity that they do with their dog but a sport that they can play with their friends and family and even on a team!
For the adults or teens reading this book alongside their children or their younger sibling or even on their own, I hope they are also encouraged to get out and throw a frisbee. Even though I had always had a passion for ultimate as a child, I did not start playing competitively with my team, Heartbreak, until I was in tenth grade, so it truly is never too late to start a sport or any other interest!
What impact do you hope the book will have? I hope my books will inspire other young girls to see themselves as the next future of ultimate players, whether they play it leisurely with friends, like the characters in the book, or play competitively on a team. I hope it encourages them to be open to explore and to try out ultimate frisbee for themselves, because only until then will they be able to find out how fun it is and possibly even find a community of amazing, talented people through the sport, helping to change the face of how we play sports through the SPIRIT of the game.