WAC ultimate: Frisbee for ‘all types of people’

The Occidental. Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team after practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 8, 2023. Kawena Jacobs/The Occidental.

On Monday and Wednesday nights, under the bright lights of Patterson field, WAC Ultimate Frisbee can be found racing around the turf, practicing for upcoming weekend tournaments.

The team has competed in the USA Ultimate College Championships — the college national Ultimate Frisbee championship — for the past two years. According to co-captain Jaya Duckworth* (senior), they hope to do the same this spring.

WAC is one of Occidental College’s two club Frisbee teams. According to Duckworth, the team is open to any student at the college, no matter their experience or identity. The team competes in tournaments all throughout Southern California and is ranked 17th in the D-III Women’s Club Ultimate League.

WAC formally stood for Women’s Air Corps, but according to WAC member Meiyi Weisbord (sophomore), the team is moving away from that title in hopes of establishing a welcoming environment for people of any gender or identity.

“WAC stands for anything you want it to stand for,” Weisbord said. “At the end of practice, we always ask ‘what does WAC stand for today?’ It can be anything.”

Duckworth said she joined the team as a first year after playing in high school and was hooked after her first practice.

“It’s a super welcoming community, very open to all skill levels, and all types of people. I think I was just instantly drawn to the energy of the team and was always wanting to come back,” Duckworth said.

It is that same energy that sparked Weisbord’s love for the team. She said that the main reason why she is a part of WAC is because of the community she gets from it.

According to Duckworth, WAC is excellent for anyone who enjoys sports but wants a less stressful atmosphere than competitive varsity teams.

“We’re just like a pretty goofy team, Ultimate Frisbee is just a goofy sport in general. There are no referees, there’s all kinds of weird traditions. People wear costumes and have silly cheers and stuff,” Duckworth said. “I think that energy is something that’s really unique about WAC, just being able to be silly, and have a lot of fun together.”

According to assistant captain and alumnus Sophie Havranek (’22), WAC is made up of all types of students — different players come in with different experience levels.

“I think the best part about Frisbee is that you have people who’ve played basketball for all their lives who played soccer, softball, volleyball and it’s this coalescence of people with a ton of different athletic backgrounds into a sport that kind of has something for everyone,” Havraneck said. “This team does a very good job of making sure everyone feels included and a part of the group’s success.”

Coach Sophie Havranek after practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 8, 2023. Kawena Jacobs/The Occidental.

Weisbord said the team’s dynamic is very special, as everyone plays a role in their success.

“Everyone brings something to the team, whether that’s positivity or being a really strong player,” Weisbord said.

According to co-captain Amanda Iglesias (junior), this collaborative environment extends to the way she leads as a captain.

“I really enjoy bringing other people in and gathering input from everyone on the team; we like to make a lot of team decisions as opposed to just us captains deciding what we do,” Iglesias said. “Like, before we go to tournaments, we always ask people on the team, ‘What are your thoughts on this? What do we want to work on?’”

From left to right and top to bottom, captains Jaya Duckworth (senior), Ava Letterie (junior), Amanda Iglesias (junior) and Halle Steckel (senior) having fun after practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 8, 2023. Kawena Jacobs/The Occidental.

Havranek commented on the team’s goals for their upcoming season and said that this year is centered around growth and having fun. She said that the team is welcoming a large rookie class and wants to focus on making them feel welcome and included in the community.

Looking forward, Weisbord said the team is hoping to make it to nationals — not only for the title of winning, but also as a representation of their hard work and dedication.

“I don’t really do WAC to go to tournaments or win, I’m not as focused on being the best in the region. I think that’s part of it, but it comes from caring about each other and the hard work that we put in going to practice and spending time together,” Weisbord said. “Ultimately in the game sense, as a team, getting to Nationals again would be really cool. We went last year, and it was a really amazing experience.”

According to Duckworth, another goal for the team is to focus more on inclusivity within the sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

“Frisbee is a very white sport. It can be pretty inaccessible for a lot of people, and it can be expensive,” Duckworth said. “I think working on self-reflection among our team, and with Detox, about how we can be more inclusive and accessible to people of all backgrounds at Oxy [can] create a more equitable environment.”

The Occidental. Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team after practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 8, 2023. Kawena Jacobs/The Occidental.

According to Duckworth, the team has worked to have open and collaborative conversations with Detox — the other Ultimate Frisbee club team on campus — about issues of inclusivity. Specifically, discussions regarding gender, racial and wealth inequality.

Duckworth said that the team also works towards equity from a financial perspective, offering to pay fees for any player that has financial burdens that may stop them from participating.

Both Iglesias and Duckworth said that the team is open to new members, reiterating that any Occidental student is welcome to join.

“I think it’s lovely having new people at practice. I’d say the more the merrier. We always are so open to just teaching people from the beginning, like taking it all the way back to the basics and building up skills from there,” Iglesias said. “I feel like being nervous that you don’t know how to play is totally fine.”

Contact Felisa Duff at fduff@oxy.edu.