GUM Blog

Lead Her Forward

I started playing ultimate in Seattle at the age of 10 and was coached by some of the best in the game: Miranda Knowles, Sarah Griffith, Alyssa Weatherford, Hana Kawai, Shannon O’Malley, Charlie Eide and others. These coaches (all current or former Seattle Riot players) had very significant impacts on my life. They taught me how to be a strong, confident, caring and passionate woman. I still remember one practice in sixth grade when I was chatting away in line before a drill while Miranda was giving the team instructions. Miranda looked at me, shouted, “Tree!” and pointed at a tree 80 yards away for me to sprint to. She did not take my foolery kindly.

Two years later, Miranda was my eighth grade human biology teacher. That year, she suggested I apply to participate in a program called All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP). I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I trusted Miranda and was promised a greater opportunity to play ultimate. I am forever indebted to her for pushing me to join AGE UP, and I’m also thankful for her friends – Hana Kawai, Sam Terry and Lisa Niemann (among others) – for volunteering to organize and create spaces for us.

Through AGE UP, I learned the importance of building relationships with people who have had different experiences than you. I learned about my own biases and the impact of my positionality as a white, upper middle class, cisgender woman. I learned how to build a lesson plan and present it in front of a group.

First-ever AGE UP coaching clinic at Bailey Gazert Elementary School

Two years after my first year with AGE UP, I was voted a captain of the Roosevelt High School women’s ultimate team, along with my co-captain, Anna Wysen. We were captains for three years together – we taught skills to new players; hosted team-building events; and organized practices, games and tournaments. Our team struggled to have seven players on the field our first two years, but by our senior year, we had enough players for a full junior varsity team.

How did this happen?

I would be lying if I said any of the many recruitment strategies we used as captains were the answer to how the Roosevelt High School women’s ultimate team became the successful program it is today.

The answer: committed coaches across the city empowering young women to begin playing and competing at a young age.

Strong female role models in my life, my involvement in AGE UP and my experience as a leader on a developing high school team have changed the way I understand leadership, sport and community.

I am now a senior at Colorado College and a captain of our D-I women’s team, Lysistrata’s Tools. I have coached many young people at Seattle Youth Ultimate Camps, Team Ultimate Camps and CUT Camps.  I take a lot of pride in being a role model through sport. I am able to prove my worth through grit and determination, while also acknowledging and sharing the ways in which my positionality affects my experience: how I am perceived as a female athlete and how I have found successes in connection to my race, wealth and cisgender identity.

Systematic oppression, racism and sexism prevent young women, young women of color and young, poor, LGBTQ+ women of color from feeling confident in their strength. Miranda taught me to shut up, AGE UP taught me to listen up, and leadership roles have taught me how to create spaces where people understand when to shut up, listen up or speak up.

I am writing this post as a tribute and thank you to the mentors in my life.

Thank you for giving me confidence and teaching me humility.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful with muscular thighs and broad shoulders.

If only someday, I can be a role model for a young person in the way you all were for me.

Anna Wysen and me at Northwest Challenge this past spring (her team won 11-10).