Frisbees spun and wobbled on the fingers of dozens of excited students as they followed the directions of Frisbee Rob.
The Plymouth School auditorium echoed with laughter on Oct. 24 as the youth moved their bodies and had fun with frisbees – activities that Rob McLeod would like to see all children do a lot more of.
Frisbee changed McLeod’s life. He began flinging discs in earnest while studying engineering at the University of Alberta. The death of his mother on May 17, 2001 had a powerful impact on his direction in life. That September he enrolled in Dalhousie University in Halifax, studying engineering and business. Time spent with the Dal/King’s Ultimate Team and disc golf helped him through the grieving process for his mother.
In the summer of 2011, he was invited to the World Overall Flying Disc Championships in Colorado by Jack Cooksey, a world frisbee champion who became his close friend and mentor.
In August 2011, McLeod set his first world record, which happened also to be his first with Davy Whippet, an “amazing” dog owned by friends in Edmonton. Davy and McLeod set two Guinness World Records (for a total of six world records). They also won four World Championships and two Quadruped titles (a dog disc distance competition). Davy passed away April 2018.
McLeod’s total records to date are 12 World Championships, six Guinness World Records and the Canadian Distance Record.
Now living in Calgary, Alberta, he continues to actively pursue his passion for frisbee by competing, teaching and helping to grow the sport.
McLeod was in Israel this summer for three weeks and spends the majority of the year on the road teaching students the importance of keeping physically active and unplugged. He uses frisbee as a tool for the message.
“I just try to keep it nice and simple,” he says.
“I don’t want to demonize technology, because technology is great. But I also want them to learn that sitting playing video games five hours a day is not what they should be doing.”
McLeod talks to the youngsters about balance and how much better it feels not to be in front of the screen.
“A lot of parents say don’t do that, but they’re on their phones all the time. I try to get the kids to set the example in front of the parents…the whole family can do it,” he said.
He acknowledges that he’s able to reach more people because of technology but that he strives to find that balance, too.
“Their brains are still developing. For me to watch five hours of TV is not as bad as it would be for them.”
He also delivers the message that there is value in doing things that are difficult and encourages students that fail at something to try it again.
After his visit to each school he issues a challenge.
“My main challenge for them is to take one day a week away from screens: get the TV’s out of the bedrooms, get away from video games, Netflix, movies, things like that. I want them to spend more time playing, moving and talking to people.”
Close to 5,000 have taken the challenge so far.
McLeod has published a children’s book called The Davy Rule that teaches kids aged 4-10 how to deal with bullying. The book is available for purchase online.
Article by Carla Allen from the Yarmouth County Vanguard: https://www.thevanguard.ca/living/plymouth-school-students-unplug-with-help-from-frisbee-rob-254912.