Jeffrey Lam ’17 – U24 HK Ultimate Frisbee Team Captain

Jeffrey started playing Ultimate Frisbee when he joined CIS in Y10 for the one-year academic and residential programme in Hangzhou. Today he is the Captain for the U24 HK Ultimate Frisbee Team, while also studying for a full-time business degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Together with 8 other CIS graduates in his team, they will be representing HK in a series of regional and global competitions this year. Jeffrey shares with us how he found his passion for Ultimate Frisbee..

  • Name: Lam Chak Long Jeffrey
  • Graduating Year: Class 2017
  • Years at CIS: 4 years
  • College & Degree: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in Integrated Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Current city of residence: Hong Kong

Could you introduce yourself a bit (background & profession)?

I am a Year 2 student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in Integrated Bachelor of Business Administration and planning to choose a concentration in General Finance. Moreover, since studying Biology HL during IBDP, I have developed an interest in Biology. So, I have decided to pursue a minor in Biology.

I was brought up in Hong Kong, so my native language is Cantonese and it is the language that I speak at home. Growing up, I went through the local system throughout primary and middle school, then transferred to CIS in Year 10. It was an incredibly exciting first year at a new school since I was sent to study in Hangzhou for a year.

After primary school, my sole sports focus was on fencing, and I was a competitive fencer for 8 years. Though we have team divisions in fencing competitions, fencing is ultimately a solo sport and lack the element of team spirit. Hence, one of the reasons why I am drawn to ultimate frisbee is its team sports nature.

How did you get into ultimate frisbee and what made you take up the sport?

Born and raised in a traditional Chinese family, I was never very involved with western culture. And, before going to Hangzhou, I had never even heard of ultimate frisbee. When it was first introduced to me, I only thought of it as a recreational sport. My first encounter with a frisbee was with my friend, who later became the captain of CIS Ultimate Frisbee, and he dragged me to the field and started throwing a frisbee around with me. I still remember the astonished look on my face when I saw my friend made a long, smooth throw that landed right in my hands, while the most I could do was a wobbly throw that could only travel for five yards. Ever since I learnt the basics of the sport, my friends and I would race to the field and start throwing frisbee every break.

Eventually, an unofficial frisbee team was established in Hangzhou. Though we had no coaches, we were committed and disciplined to run our own practices. After a few months, the team got a little ambitious, and got a bid at an open tournament in Wuhan, where we would compete with adult teams. I was incredibly excited, as it would be an opportunity for me to play ultimate frisbee under a competitive atmosphere. However, I did not get selected for the tournament roster, and was told that I was not good enough to play for the school. I was disappointed, but it did not dissipate my enthusiasm and passion for my new sport.

Another reason that constantly motivates me is the special sentimental value that this particular sport encompasses. I was a new student to CIS, and it was especially difficult to make friends when English was not a language that I was used to. It was through running up and down the field and chasing a piece of round-shaped plastic that made me met some of my closest friends at CIS. And, all of these sentimental attachments are what drive me excelling in frisbee.

How often do you have to train to stay competitive?

When I was still a student at CIS, we had a 3 hour long team training once every week. And, I believe all of my teammates would say it was not enough practice for us to enter high level competitions.

After graduating from CIS, I started playing for adult club teams in Hong Kong. We would have practised once during the week nights and once on weekends, as well as one extra session for fitness training. So, overall, I would spend 5.5 hours on ultimate frisbee training on a weekly basis.

Ever since I knew I would be representing Hong Kong, I have upgraded the intensity and duration of both individual and team trainings. I aim to go to the gym 3 days a week for strength/fitness training, and two on-field trainings each week.

Ultimate frisbee is very much a team sport. Can you tell us about your team? How did you meet your teammates?

The Hong Kong U24 Mixed Team has a roster of 23 players, consisting of13 males and 9 girls. Among 23 players, 12 of them study and are based in Hong Kong, while the rest are international players who study and are based in United States, Canada, and United Kingdom.

Before the Hong Kong Team was official, I was already familiar with 1/3 of the team, since they were my teammates from CIS. And, 4 of them are actually from the same class as me.

During the process of putting together this team, the captains advertised the exciting opportunity to represent Hong Kong through Facebook, seeking both local and international players to attend try-outs. And, that’s how we were in touch with abroad players. Out of the 9 girls on the roster, only two girls are studying and based in Hong Kong.

Through the Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association (HKUPA), a number of Hong Kong local players got in touch with us and expressed their interest in playing for Hong Kong. This year, HKUPA has a strong emphasis on local-talent development, which is why the ratio of Hong Kong local players on this year’s tournament roster is higher than last year’s.

Which leagues will you be competing in and do they require a lot of travelling?

During my time in CIS, the CIS Ultimate Frisbee Team competed in 3 different tournaments annually. The first one is always the Interschool Ultimate Frisbee Competition hosted by the local organisation called Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association. The second one is an open tournament, which involves a lot of adult players from around the world. The CIS team is usually the youngest team. The third one, which usually happens in May, is the Youth Ultimate Frisbee Championships in Shanghai. CIS usually earns the Championship title at the Interschool tournament and the Youth tournament, while we often come last at the open tournament (it is really for the experience anyway).

After graduating from CIS, I tried out and got selected for one of the most competitive local club teams in Hong Kong called Double T (during mixed-gender season) and Nutscracker (during single-gender season) (both teams basically consisted the same people, but they are split into genders for the single-gender season). Last year, I competed with them in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Until this year, I was the youngest member on the team, and the team would refer me as Junior Team Member (JTM). One of the moments during my frisbee career that I will always cherish is when I was acknowledged by my captain, and he said: “I am happy with your performance throughout this tournament.” To me, it is a huge achievement because that was the moment I got recognised.

This tournament in Germany, called the World Ultimate Championships, will be the farthest I have to travel for a tournament.

It is a big achievement to be the captain for the U24 HK national ultimate frisbee team. What has been your biggest challenge reaching this position?

To be completely honest, the competition for frisbee in the youth division is not very fierce, so it was not very hard to be selected as captain (as I was the one who urged the association to send a team to Germany). However, I believe the board committee of the association do recognize my ability, dedication, and commitment to ultimate frisbee, which I demonstrate through both on-field and off-field training.

On the other hand, I do expect to encounter challenges in the coming months. Since this is the first time for me to shoulder on the role of a captain, I will have to step up and live up to people’s expectations. Besides, I will need to lead, unite, and inspire 23 players, while half of team has not played with each other before. It will be hard to coordinate and develop game chemistry during our time in Germany.

As a team, we came up with goals for ourselves and for the tournament. You need to understand that frisbee is still a developing sport in Hong Kong, and players in Hong Kong do not get a lot of resources or receive any proper training. So, we are not aiming to win or playing for a place at this tournament. Our goal is to showcase what Hong Kong ultimate frisbee players are capable of, and to put up a fight against all of the countries we are going to play against.

As a captain, I also have personal goals for myself. Firstly, I have accepted that I will not be the best player on the roster, as my previous CIS teammates, such as my former captain and the MVPs, are more athletic and skilful than I am. Therefore, while continue to strive for improvements and train to be the best, I also aim to be a solid player on the field; a captain that can be depended on, and a player that players can trust to get the job done.

What is your advice for any young alumni looking to start playing ultimate frisbee?

I would suggest them to get in touch with Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association, which is the one and only frisbee organisation in Hong Kong. They regularly host events, and training sessions for beginners. It is an incredibly friendly community, and they are all very passionate in teaching local people how to play frisbee.

I am planning to start an alumni frisbee team at CIS. So, if I actually have the opportunity to, I will host frisbee events for young and old alumni to get to know the sport.

What are your plans for the future?

The most obvious plan would be graduating university with an acceptable GPA and securing a job in the financial sector.

If I am unable to land a job successfully, I will consider studying master as an option. A part of me still long for the chance to study abroad!

What was your most memorable CIS moment?

I do not think I have one most memorable CIS moment because most of the school days were very enjoyable and it would never be as bad as the days I had at the previous local schools. I was really lucky to meet my current CIS friend group. And, as long as I am spending time with them, every moment is memorable.

How did your CIS experience contribute to who you are today?

One very noticeable change I have after transferring to CIS is my open-mind attitude towards new things. For one thing, ultimate frisbee is a very unorthodox sport, and I would never have heard of it if I was still studying in a local school. In general, I believe I have a more positive lifestyle than when I was in my previous school. Though CIS is as competitive as local schools, the CIS community is very encouraging and is always able to lend a helping hand to its students.

Please read the following questions and write down the first answer to pop into your mind (3-second limit ):

  • What is your favourite movie/production: TV show: Friends, Movie: How to Train Your Dragon
  • What do you like to do in your free time: Ultimate frisbee / Music / Books
  • What would be your last meal on death row: I honestly cannot think of anything because I am very picky at eating and my preference for taste change periodically. All I can say is I would imagine my last meal would be a mix of western and Chinese cuisine.
  • If you could have a one-hour conversation with anyone – historical or current – who would that be and why: Dad’s side grandma because I have never met her.