Community spin

Dani Alexander. Photo by: Shane Lo

Dani Alexander. Photo by: Shane Lo

In summary: 
  • Dani Alexander is an energy researcher at UTS’s Institute for Sustainable Futures
  • This June, she’ll also be representing Australia at the World Ultimate Championships in London

She calls it “a sport for nerds”; a high-intensity mix of soccer, basketball, American football and netball, played without a referee.

But, according to Research Principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) Dani Alexander, Ultimate Frisbee is also a game played by the open-minded, passionate and welcoming; those who embody the spirit of sportsmanship and integrity.

Alexander has been playing Ultimate since 2011, and this June will represent Australia at the World Ultimate Championships in London.

“Ultimate is the best sport in the world, there really is no other sport like it,” enthuses Alexander as she grins from ear to ear. “The self-refereeing aspect is fantastic, as it promotes a culture of mutual respect for your team and opponents in every game.

“Not only that, but they’ve taken the best bits from a whole lot of amazing sports. I mean, what other game lets you run, jump, dive and throw?”

As fun as it is to play, Alexander admits explaining the game to an outsider can often be difficult.

Dani Alexander (far left) at the World Ultimate Championships. Image courtesy of the World Flying Disc Federation Dani Alexander (far left) at the World Ultimate Championships. Image courtesy of the World Flying Disc Federation

“When I’m chatting to someone who has never played there’s one question that almost always gets asked, and that is: ‘Don’t you play Frisbee with dogs?’.”

While Ultimate is now recognised by the International Olympic Committee, Alexander says more needs to be done to promote the sport. “If you don’t raise awareness, people will never have a chance to enjoy the game. Ultimate is a sport that upholds true sportsmanship and integrity – great values that also translate off the field and build a sense of community.

“Wherever I go, even to other countries, I can pick-up with a local Ultimate team and have 20 instant friends!”

It’s this same sense of community that drew Alexander to energy research at ISF at the beginning of this year.

“I love that the institute is full of like-minded, passionate people who are truly excellent in their fields.”

Dani Alexander diving. Image courtesy of the World Flying Disc Federation Dani Alexander diving. Image courtesy of the World Flying Disc Federation

“Being part of a community working together towards an inspirational goal is very empowering, and something I really value both as a researcher at ISF and an Ultimate player.”

Before moving to ISF, Alexander’s experience in the energy sector was spread across policy, program management, governance and engagement. She also has a multi-disciplinary academic background, which has led to her specialised understanding of the game-changing technologies that offer hope for globally sustainable energy.

“My entire career has revolved around making great new ideas a reality in the energy sector. Right now - as we move towards more renewable and local generation championed by communities - we’re witnessing transition in action.

“As the power starts to move into the hands of consumers, rather than traditional energy businesses, exciting new challenges and opportunities arise. Our team at ISF is busy tackling these to realise a truly sustainable energy future.”