Women break away from co-ed Ultimate Frisbee team

Bobby Shipman

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The women of the ultimate frisbee team broke away from the co-ed team at the end of 2013, making them USI’s only unisex club sport.

“Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport. As long as you have the throws you are going to be a good player,” sophomore English major Sarah Kelley said.

Kelley began playing ultimate frisbee as a freshmen and was uneasy, at first, about starting a women’s only team.

“It was really difficult for me because coming in as a freshman, ultimate was what kept me grounded, and it’s where I made most of my friends – most of them being guys,” she said.

When Kelley first joined, she was one of only two girls on the team consistently showing up, but by spring 2013, they had five consistent girls on the team, which gave them the idea to make the switch.

“I do like it a lot more than I thought I would,” Kelley said. “At our first tournament, it felt good to be on more of an equal playing ground athletically. When you are playing with a bunch of girls, it’s different then playing on a field with all guys.”

The team currently has anywhere from 11 to 13 players, some of which are USI alumni, but Kelley said they always want more girls.

“Our first tournament was a little bit challenging with only eight players – three players got hurt – and you have to have at least seven players on the field at a time,” she said. “We were playing with six and an injured person.”

In the fall, Kelley said more than 50 girls expressed interest in the team but many who came to the first practice felt it lacked challenge.

“It was the first practice, so obviously this semester we are going to get into it a little faster,” she said. “You don’t have to have any skills-set to come in and do this. That’s the beauty of ultimate. Most people don’t know how to throw a disc back-hand or forehand. Everyone comes in on the same level, for the most part.”

Club Sports Adviser Scott Wood said other women’s club sports failed in the past due to lack of recruitment.

“Clubs are about trying to run an organization on your own as a student,” Wood said. “We will help assist, but we’re not going to do it for them. That’s one thing that clubs in the past haven’t understood and that’s why they didn’t last.”

Wood said a lot of organization goes into running a club sport such as getting recognized as a club sport, obtaining practice space and recruitment.

“It’s a learning process because they have to do a lot of this stuff on their own,” Wood said. “The great thing about ultimate, and really clubs in general at this school, is the other clubs are willing to help out. They just need to be asked.  The men’s ultimate team had helped the women’s out a few times this semester with just ideas or whatever. They have to feel it out and learn and make mistakes just like any other club.”

The Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team plans to host a baked-goods sale in the near future with the intent of attracting membership, Kelley said.

“I still have three more years here so I am going to try my hardest to keep this sport going,” Kelley said. “Having a good time is super stressed in ultimate, just keeping that good spirit going. And hopefully this club actually lasts!”