Occidental’s women’s ultimate Frisbee team, Women’s Aerial Club (WAC), began the spring season low in numbers but high in spirit.
Despite losing four out of six games in a tournament at Irvine the weekend of March 7, WAC walked off the field optimistic, according to handler Blaire Sellers (sophomore).
Sellers said that WAC was proud of the close 9-10 loss to Claremont. Claremont is a dominant team that usually beats WAC before the time limit—scoring 13 points to end the game—but this time, WAC stayed competitive with Claremont until the very end.
An added challenge in the Claremont game was that WAC had eight teammates at the tournament, leaving them with only one sub—and totally exhausted by the tournament’s end.
While the full team roster has enough players to completely sub out the field, Sellers said the team struggles with tournament attendance. Handler Theresa Edwards (first-year) said that an increasing participation at tournaments and practices is crucial step to a successful season.
“Everyone on WAC is extremely committed to school, work and other activities in addition to Ultimate, so I acknowledge that it’s a challenge that we all share,” Edwards said. “If we all strengthen our commitment and make an effort to be present, we can become an even more competitive and strong team.”
With a full roster at its first sanctioned tournament of the season Feb. 28, “Trouble in Vegas,” WAC was able to play to their potential. After a four-game losing streak on Saturday, the team’s efforts were redeemed by going undefeated on Sunday in two games and one forfeit.
Laurel Cheever (junior) said that WAC does not dwell on losses because they reach for a broader goal—to enjoy the spirit of Ultimate Frisbee.
“We try to focus a lot more on improving than actual winning,” Cheever said. “We like teaching as many people as possible how to play instead of getting the people who already know to play as well as they can.”
The focus on recruiting and teaching new players is because many newcomers who joined in the fall became too busy, injured or left WAC for another spring sport. Few first-years joined the team, while three seniors decided to pick up the sport. The abroad-bound juniors made sure to teach the veteran sophomores how to fill the holes they left.
Sellers is one of the sophomores that form the backbone of WAC even though she only played in one match last season. During the first point, only about five minutes into a tied game, she tore her ACL playing defense. Healthy and healed, Sellers was eager to dive into her sophomore season.
“It’s been fun coming back from that injury and stepping into a leadership position on the field and on the team,” Sellers said. “It’s rewarding.”
Usha Kapoor, a senior violinist at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, is an unusual addition to WAC this season. According to Sellers, Colburn does not have a Frisbee team and Kapoor was denied from joining all the nearby teams she contacted—including those from USC and UCLA. WAC, however, was more than happy to accept a new teammate. Kapoor can only play in unsanctioned games, but, according to Sellers, she is a strong addition to the team.
Cheever said that the rookies are also adjusting quickly. She said that Riley Gilmartin (first-year) and Taylor Durham (senior) stand out as newcomers that have excelled in the game.
“It’s so easy to forget that they only found out Frisbee was a sport six months ago since they play so well,” Cheever said. “We don’t even make concessions for them being newbies anymore because they’re on the same level as everybody else.”
The team has been developing their offensive strategies and scrimmage frequently in order to build confidence in game situations. Cheever said that her teammates have a lot of potential because they are all very athletic from their training in other sports such as soccer and triathlons.
“In order to grasp that potential, a lot of it is teaching how to apply that athleticism to the game in an intelligent way,” Cheever said.
She said that the team improves drastically with each tournament since they play up to eight games together in one weekend.
According to Sellers, WAC has the potential to rise in the rankings—and even make it to sectionals—as long as they have a full roster going into the tournaments.
“I want everyone to stay in it, and stay pumped and stay positive and excited about all the opportunities that we have to play ultimate in LA,” Sellers said.
At the end of the day, however, the score is not as important to WAC as enjoying the sport, she said.
“Sometimes we lose games and it’s ok because we all love each other,” Sellers said. “We just approach everything with super-positivity. We’re out in the sunshine, it’s a beautiful place to be playing Frisbee with your friends.”
The team slogan, “Grab the fun,” encompasses WAC’s attitude, and they will accept anyone who shares their optimism.
“Anyone is welcome to join our team,” Cheever said. “Frisbee is a wonderful thing and I think it’s really important to welcome anyone into that community who wants to be there.”