Reflecting with WAC, anticipating the Nationals-determining game

WAC players at practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. April 5th, 2023. Ella Birchard/The Occidental

After emerging undefeated from a tournament this past weekend at UCLA, WAC Ultimate Frisbee is ready to face Claremont McKenna College in the conference championships April 16 held at Occidental’s own campus.

WAC held their own at the recent Southwest Showdown tournament at UCLA, bagel-ing down two teams to zero points and going undefeated the whole tournament. According to co-captain Amanda Iglesias (junior), the team was able to play teams like Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University, Arizona State University and University of California Davis.

Player Lily Pesikoff (first year) said the team had a lot of technical achievements, with two calahans coupled with an amazing turnout at the game which let a lot of the team get playing time.

The team’s performance allowed them to really let loose and have fun during the games, according to Pesikoff, and the team was even able to have a lineup of just first years, which Pesikoff said was really fun.

“I love playing with any group I can on the field, but playing with six other people who I know we’re going to grow as the next four years go on, together, it’s a super fun feeling, especially if we win that point,” Pesikoff said. “It’s like, oh, yeah, we did that, me and everyone in my grade, we did that.”

Lily Pesikoff (first year) at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. April 6th, 2023. Ella Birchard/The Occidental

Co-captain Halle Steckel (senior) said she is not surprised the team performed so well at the tournament, and that their hard work and dedication during practices are why they had such great results.

“I feel like it showed in the first game that we played that our team had just gotten a lot better, and the team chemistry was there. Every person just played so well, so that was really cool to see,” Steckel said. “I think almost everyone got either an assist or a goal, so that was really impressive.”

Iglesias said WAC has been working on balancing the competitive environment that inherently comes with being on a team, as well as the fun that people look for in a club sport.

“One thing that I find important is just to make sure that everyone’s voice is being heard on the team, and that we’re including everyone in the decisions that we make,” Iglesias said. “We want it to be a competitive environment, obviously, but we also want it to be fun for everyone. Finding that nice balance between the two is definitely something that we’re working on. Since we’re so close as a team this year, it really helps hold each other accountable on the field, but then also have a good time off the field.”

Steckel said as she has gotten older, she has seen and learned what experiences may feel good or bad when being a part of a sports team — and she said feelings such as exclusivity have shown her what behaviors to avoid as a captain. To make underclassmen feel more welcome, Steckel said she and Iglesias created social events so that everyone would be aware of WAC’s inclusivity and togetherness.

“When it was just Amanda and me [as captains], it was really important to us to create an environment that everyone felt comfortable and everyone could hang out and not feel like they weren’t as part of the team as [much as] other people,” Steckel said.

Halle Steckel (senior) and Amanda Iglesias (junior) at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. April 6th, 2023. Ella Birchard/The Occidental

The conference championships April 16 will be WAC’s first home games in a while — according to Iglesias, there have not been any in the last four years. This game is also the Nationals-qualifying game for both Occidental and Claremont McKenna College.

“The last time we played Claremont was at Claremont. They had an entire student section out there and just whenever anything was going their way there would be an uproar and whenever [there was] something we did great there would be [silence],” Pesikoff said. “I think [cheering from home fans] will absolutely motivate us to run harder and really just show everyone who WAC is.”

Pesikoff said the team is really excited to be playing a home game, but the team is not focused on winning, just having a good time.

“It’s definitely a ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,’ sort of thing. I think if we play to our best and it doesn’t work out for us, I think that’s still something to be proud of. I don’t want to equate winning or losing towards being proud or being not proud because I think if things don’t go our way, there’s still absolutely a way to be proud of the way we played,” Pesikoff said. “I don’t want anyone to confuse those two things, even though I know it’s super hard.”

On looking toward WAC’s future, Steckel said she hopes the community continues to expand and stay as close-knit as possible.

“I feel like for the first time, since I [first] played Frisbee, I felt that connection. And I would hope that that can just continue when I leave,” Steckel said. “I just hope people are having fun and appreciate this team as much as I know I and the rest of the captains do.”

Contact Sela at

*Halle Steckel worked as a photo editor for The Occidental.


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