Proudly sponsored by

BE Ultimate Jointworks Chiropractic

Beast Performances III

Team Canada


Team Canada Beast Performances: Al Bob Nichols #12

When you meet Allan “Al Bob” Nichols, the word “beast” doesn’t readily spring to mind. He is approximately 5’8” and 140lbs and has never seen the inside of a gym. Lately, his hair has been flowing like the mane of an aging rocker. He is usually complaining about the sorenesses of old age or how he struggles to balance work, family, ultimate. He assures everyone this year is his last. Al has been saying the same things for probably 15 years now, and nobody pays attention. At around 49 years old, he has “come out of retirement” to win gold medals on innumerable occasions. He is already an inaugural inductee of the Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame, because it was absurd to keep waiting for him to finally hang up his cleats. He went to one of the first world championships in 1990, and he is still going in 2012. Think about that for a second. Most of the people he taught to play have long since retired.

A beast performance is recognized when a player — through whatever hidden, inner well-spring of desire — decides to put the team on his back, to exceed his human potential, and leads his team to the shores of the Promised Land. For Canada, Al Bob discovered and pointed to the Promised Land, the standard of excellence, the belief that his team could stand atop of the podium. Not merely content to play Frisbee in foreign lands, He was the pioneer who first instilled the will to win, who converted the ordrinary desire to play into the desire to compete. He was among the leadership that formed Furious George in 1995. He personally led the Angry Monkey to nearly everything it has won. He has also played a keynote role in the history of the Nomads. We found his name on the very first hand-scrawled list of the members of the British Columbia Disc Sport Society. He was there, proselytizing the whole while as the Vancouver Ultimate League grew from 4 teams to over 250.

In 1998, Al Bob was donned the maple leaf at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships in Blaine, Minnesota, and was squaring off against the USA, represented by Boston’s Death-or-Glory (DoG), during the height of their dominance. Obviously, a team like DoG had many great players, but their main one-two punch combination at the time was Chris Corcoran and Jim Parinella. Furious George had formed three years prior, but had at that time won nothing of note outside of Canada.  Canada played the USA twice during the tournament, both in round robin and during semi-finals. Al Bob rose above the competition. As the legend goes, Al Bob won his match-up against “Cork” to such a lopsided degree that “Cork” — basically — retired thereafter [ed. note: man, we’re going to get in trouble for saying that]. Al snapped up countless blocks, forced drops and turns and steadily, relentlessly, broke the man down. With those two wins, Canada earned a name on the map of elite ultimate, and the team learned that they could be the best in the world. Al Bob was the first to sense the Promised Land, and he showed it to his team.

Winning a world championship is tough. You are playing against the best players of a country, and regardless of that country’s depth, their best 5 or 7 players are invariably good. In the contest of endurance that a world championship typically becomes, there are only about 3 teams with a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing. This is why winning the UPA/USAU championships is a pretty tall order: you have to consistently play at a very high level as the worst team there is still in the competitive elite.

In 2005, Al Bob suited up for yet another UPA Championship game with Furious George. He was quiet and unassuming during the pre-game routine, leaving the speeches to his louder, fire-breathing counterpart, Andrew Lugsdin. Wily as he was, at 42 years of age, he was considered old beyond reason in the Open division. How would he compare against all the 27-year-olds on Sockeye, still in their prime? Well, Al Bob went out and he scored 5 goals and 2 assists, and earned one monstrous catch-block on the illustrious Roger Craft. He earned half of Vancouver’s points in a championship game, after an entire tournament against the best players on the continent armed with every reasonable advantage. He captured yet another Gold Medal.

Now, these two performances, spaced 8 years apart should say something about the character of such a beast, exceeding human expectations, defying the cynicism and youth of his peers, and finding a way to win against not only the best in the world, but father time as well. But still, just last year, at the 2011 Canadian Nationals Masters Final, that old bastard went out once more, dragged a tired, probably overconfident, definitely disorganized, somewhat limping Nomads team to another Gold Medal. He skyed his rivals for two high-flying defensive blocks, he threw for hundreds of earned yards, and picked up another CUC MVP trophy performance.

And so here he is, training, devising strategy, a starting player, Still among the oldest even in the masters division. To him, 33-year-olds are whipper-snappers. Beast!

Alex Davis

3 Responses to “Beast Performances III”

  1. Matt Says:

    As a player on the opposing side in that 2005 UPA final, I have to agree. Al Bob’s play in that game was simply dominant. He ran down a bunch of downwind hucks that I thought nobody, much less a 42-year-old vet, had any business catching. IMO, without his level of play in that game, Sockeye wins that championship.

  2. Anja Says:

    Al’s desire to compete, not just play, was also felt by those of us wanting to create a competitive women’s team (we wanted to beat the USA, a tall order in the early nineties when we were barely scoring 2 points a game on them). Al was an early, vocal supporter of our dream, which meant a lot.

    Hey Vancouver Elite Women: you should go buy the dude a beer and thank him. 🙂

  3. Jens Says:

    Had the pleasure to play against Al in 1998 and 2000 with the German Open Team. Remember guarding him one point in Blaine..curious if I could handle a cutter 10years my senior.

    I never ever got so humilated on the field as in this one point 🙂

    Besides being a freakish player he’s also a super nice guy. Probs to you Al!!!! Honored to have battled against you on the Ultimate field.
    Jens #91