The Collegian
Friday, August 12, 2022

Women’s ultimate frisbee club team qualifies for nationals

<p>The University of Richmond Red Hots. <em>Photo courtesy of Ellie Holdsworth.&nbsp;</em></p>

The University of Richmond Red Hots. Photo courtesy of Ellie Holdsworth. 

The University of Richmond women’s ultimate frisbee club team, The Richmond Red Hots, will compete for the first time in the U.S. Ultimate Division III Nationals. 

The team defeated Catholic University of America and University of Mary Washington to win its regional competition on Oct. 16 at Glover Park in Glen Allen, Va.  

UR was seeded first heading into regionals, which was based on the team’s statistics from spring 2020 because last year's competitive season was canceled because of the pandemic, co-captain and senior Katelyn Wing said. 

Ultimate frisbee is a sport with similarities to football, Wing added. The field has two end zones, and a team scores a point when a player catches the frisbee in the opposing team’s end zone.

The team comprises of 37 players, but only 23 players competed in the regional competition, team president and junior Helen Strigel said. 

Five UR ultimate frisbee alumni from the classes of 2020 and 2021 were also able to participate in regionals because of the hiatus in competition due to COVID-19, Wing said. They will travel with the team to the nationals in Norco, California, for the tournament that starts Dec. 17 and is set to end on Dec. 21. 

UR is among 16 collegiate teams that will compete at nationals, co-captain and senior LeeAnn Dempsey said. 

The team’s goal heading into the nationals is to keep playing with the same competitiveness and flow that the team brought to regionals, she said. 

Dempsey and Wing attributed the team’s success to its cohesiveness, which is stronger than they have seen in previous years. 

“I think our team does a really great job at communicating with each other while we're on the field,” Dempsey said. 

Off the field, the team evaluates what works well, she said. 

“We're kind of constantly strategizing and determining what we can do better,” Dempsey said. “I think it'll be really fun to see our team play at such a competitive national level tournament" 

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The team's qualification for nationals is a huge moment for women’s sports on campus, Strigel said.  

Strigel added that she was glad that her team would no longer subconsciously be seen by others as less legitimate than male athletes of her sport, acknowledging societal undertones that generally see male athletes as more legitimate. 

As team president, Strigel is responsible for budgeting the trip to nationals.

“We're figuring out how to buy the hotel rooms, how to buy the rental cars and how to buy the plane tickets to get to nationals in California,” Strigel said. 

Funding for nationals has been difficult in the wake of UR cutting funding to sports clubs this year, Wing said. 

UR sports club funding was slightly cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wendy Sheppard, assistant director of sports and risk management, wrote in a Nov. 30 email to The Collegian. 

"Our department has not been able to bring in our normal amount of revenue (facility rentals and community memberships) so all sections of our department were required to cut some funding to allow the department to operate as 'normal' as possible," wrote Sheppard. 

However, with the assistance of Sheppard and Budget Coordinator Karen Turner, the team has been provided with some funding that it will use to pay for rental cars and lodging in California, Wing said. 

The team’s discretionary funds, which the team acquires through an annual fundraising event, will be used to cover the trip’s flights, Wing added. 

“But with what we have right now, it's not going to cover everyone's flights,” she said. “So what we're doing is we're paying for half of people's flights, and people have to pay for the other half [themselves]” 

The team is fundraising to make sure finances do not stand in the way of team members making the trip to California, Wing said. The team is accepting donations through this link.

Contact news writer Caitlin O'Hare at caitlin.ohare@richmond.edu.

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