Vivian Chu Nguyen is a first-year CCIT student from Vancouver, British Columbia. Nguyen was an impactful player for UTM’s 2016 Ultimate Frisbee team. From a young girl who never excelled at athletics to getting offered to try out for the British Columbia Field Hockey team and being offered a field hockey position on the UBC team, Nguyen is the epitome of someone who genuinely loves sports and finds the greatest meaning in them. Ultimate Frisbee gives her an outlet to experience the joy of athletics here at UTM.
“Ultimate Frisbee is basically football, basketball, and soccer all mashed up. The objective is to simply get the disc into the end zone, but once you catch the disc you can’t take any steps with it,” says Nguyen, who’s been playing Ultimate Frisbee since she was in high school. Nguyen is the handler, or cutter, meaning she leads the team in throws or helps make cuts to move the disc up the field. She doesn’t maintain a leadership role on the team because everyone works so well together.
Her journey to field hockey came at an unfortunate time in her athletic career. She injured herself prior to the British Columbia field hockey team tryout and couldn’t make it out, eventually leading to her not making the team. But when she recovered, she discovered that the Ultimate Frisbee team at her high school had begun tryouts, and she decided to give the unfamiliar sport a shot. “I’m pretty fast, but I’m not the big plays kind of player. I like to help out my teammates whenever I can, even if it’s small things, like making a small distance pass or cutting in so my teammates can strike for a long pass,” says Nguyen.
“The main things I got out of participating in this year’s season is meeting all the cool people on the team who helped mentor me and get me comfortable at UTM, since I’m a first year who came from out of the province,” Nguyen continues.
The friendly and formidable group of student athletes faced tough competition this year, competing against the Skule engineering group that had several Varsity downtown campus players and other St. George teams with talented individuals. With the season over and no championship banner to show—losing in the semi-finals—Nguyen isn’t upset, she’s happy to have played alongside a group of people she can now call her friends. “I learned that Ultimate Frisbee requires a lot of teamwork. There’s no one who can carry the team because of the nature of the sport—connecting with your teammates is a large factor in being a successful team.”
Nguyen believes that one of her greatest character traits is her ambition. She’s been known to do something even though she was told not to, as she’s had to acquire strong confidence. Growing up in a household where sports was seen as a distraction, Nguyen went against her parents’ wishes and the opinions of others to pursue her strong interest in sports teams. “I did a lot of things that I was told I wasn’t ‘good enough’ for or that I couldn’t do. My parents are fond of the phrase ‘eye on the prize,’ and always tell me that I always have my ‘eye on the prize’ because I’ll do anything to achieve a goal or to get something that I want.”
She was never a naturally gifted athlete. She was the student who was picked last in gym class and someone who had seemed to give up on herself. Getting bad grades and feeling inferior was a bad time in her life, but thanks to her participation in the grade eight field hockey team, she gained a passion for sports and a fire inside which set her on the path to success. “I got my grades up, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to play for the UBC field hockey team. With a lot of hard work and practice, I was offered to sign with the team.” However, she believed that UTM was a better suit for her academic needs and was thrilled at the opportunity to come and get a degree from U of T.
“Moral of the story: working hard and striving for something can overcome anything,” says Nguyen.
Feeling as though she has come a long way already, Nguyen wants go to law school once she’s completed her undergraduate degree. Knowing how she handles adversity, my bet is that she’ll make it.