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Notes on the Cascades Cup

by / Thursday, 06 April 2017 / Published in Uncategorized

Notes On The Cascades Cup

Hello, Bay Area ultimate fans!

The FlameThrowers management has a lot of information about The Cascades Cup that we feel has been inadequately presented thus far. We would like to explain to our fans the origin of the Cascades Cup challenge, the process for roster selection, and how the FlameThrowers are seeking to bring more gender equity to the world of professional ultimate by shining a light on all of the great ultimate players in the Bay Area and beyond. It’s going to a be a great step forward for the entire ultimate community and we are incredibly excited about participating in this event.  

An Apology

First and foremost, the FlameThrowers management would like to apologize to all the amazing Bay Area ultimate players who compete in the women’s and mixed divisions but did not have the opportunity to try out for a spot on the Cascades Cup roster.

We, the FlameThrowers management, failed to adequately communicate our goals, scheduling, and the process for inviting athletes, holding tryouts, and selecting the final roster. We are aware that there are women who had made other commitments for March 25th and on April 14th prior to our reaching out to the community with these critical details, and for this we are sorry.

Specifically, we did not

  • widely announce our desired process for creating a team in early March
  • sufficiently advertise the mass posting asking for interested players
  • announce the date of the tryout early enough in advance

With all new endeavors, there are always wrinkles to be smoothed out. But regardless of this, we did not carry out the process well at first or hold ourselves to a high enough standard of organization and planning.  What could have been a highly attended tryout and community building experience was not ultimately as well-attended as it otherwise might have been due to the rushed nature of the recruiting and the overall tryout timeline.

The only explanation management has to offer is that we were and are working very hard to make sure all of the enormous number of details associated with the regular season are being addressed and the Cup tryout details slipped through the cracks at first. However, we want to emphasize that this does not in any way reflect the seriousness with which we gave the tryout and the impending game. Gender equity is one of our highest priorities and the Cup is an important step towards equal representation on ultimate’s biggest stages.

We apologize to the individual athletes who wanted to compete on the Cascades Cup roster but could not, and also to the ultimate community at large. Moving forward, we will do better. And we offer a heartfelt thank you to those who did show up and gave the tryout their all – we appreciate your effort and enthusiasm for this opportunity!

Origins

Since the Titcomb siblings took over the Seattle AUDL franchise, we have been in regular contact with them about ways to bring gender equity to the big stage. In our season opener last year against the Seattle Cascades, the FlameThrowers hosted a Bay Area Women’s All-Star game showcase prior to the regularly scheduled match-up. The game against the Cascades was an AUDL game of the week and the AUDL generously livestreamed the All-Star game as well. (That footage can be seen at https://youtu.be/lmqjXCau6ts.)

In the 2016 off-season, the Cascades contacted us and expressed their desire to play an AUDL mixed game. We were excited to explore a variety of possibilities for this event with the Cascades management and we were fully supported and encouraged by a number of our players to make something great happen.

The Bay Area ultimate scene has a huge and long-lasting rivalry with the Seattle ultimate scene in the Open, Mixed, and Women’s divisions. Both of our teams wanted to make sure that we were doing the best we could to support and represent all the dedicated female ultimate players in our club communities, rather than just the men.

Given that it took months during the off-season to set the regular AUDL schedule, it took an even longer time to determine a date for this unprecedented game. We all had originally hoped that each region could host a game, but in the end, we decided that one amazing game was all that would happen in the inaugural year of mixed AUDL ultimate. There were (and probably still are) a lot of details to be worked out in making this happen, but management began tackling these issues as quickly as possible in the hopes of putting on a great showcase game. The FlameThrowers also expect to host the inaugural FlameThrowers Cup in the 2018 season.

Building the Team

We asked our past women’s All-Star game contacts, Anna Nazarov and Marika Austin of Fury, to lead our outreach effort to local elite female athletes and they accepted since neither of them would be available to play with us on April 14th.

The tryout process started with an online application that was distributed over social media.

The questions on the form were fairly straightforward and asked for information such as players’ previous experience, why they were interested in competing in The Cascades Cup, their favorite and most challenging aspects of mixed ultimate, and more. Twenty-three women applied and all were invited to the tryout.

Saturday March 25th

Two weekends ago, the FlameThrowers held our Cascades Cup tryout to determine which 10 men and 10 women would make our traveling roster. These athletes will fly to Seattle on Friday morning, April 14th, to play an AUDL rules mixed game that evening – under the lights and live streamed – for the first time ever. We are grateful and happy that so many amazing players were able to come to Saturday’s tryout and that other amazing players who were unable to attend still expressed interest on being on the team.  

Eighteen women attended the tryout on Saturday the 25th and participated in a series of skills drills and scrimmages with an emphasis on mixed play on the large field. Lucas Dallmann, one of the FlameThrowers captains, and Molica Anderson, the FlameThrowers’ physician and trainer (as well as a member of mixed club team American BBQ), helped Anna and Marika evaluate players throughout the day.  

The selectors had previously said that even players who could not physically attend the tryout would be considered, but the priority would go to the people who could be there. After seeing the amazing talent that participated, they decided to pick the team from those 18 who could attend.

Anna and Marika discussed the selection process in depth – it is indescribably difficult to narrow 18 women down to 10 out of a phenomenal pool of players from a variety of teams – and ultimately decided to ask for some input from those down in the trenches. They contacted the 18 women who tried out and asked them to submit a roster of ten athletes as if they could choose who would attend The Cascades Cup, effectively forming their own selection committee.

The women trying out provided great feedback and having the choices crowd-sourced meant that all of the women took part in the process and in shaping this team. Anna and Marika tallied up the votes and incorporated everyone’s commentary, concerns, hopes and motivations. In addition to the final roster of ten women there have been two alternates named in case anything comes up in between now and the 14th.

On the men’s side, Lucas, Marika, Anna, and Molica selected the ten players and two alternates from the FlameThrowers team members who tried out for The Cascades Cup roster.

It was an amazing day of ultimate at the tryout – so much spirit, talent, effort, and love of the game was present from the people there. According to tryout attendee Leslie Wu, “scrimmage teams maintained positive energy and supported each other throughout the tryout… I appreciated having Anna and Marika direct the tryout, and weather was near perfect. Many exciting plays were made by women, particularly Margot “Radar” Stert, and a lower stall count kept play moving quickly. Thanks again to all those who helped organize the tryout and who work towards advancing gender equity, diversity and inclusion in Ultimate and beyond.”

Next Steps

Now that the roster is set, athletes are currently battling for their preferred numbers and designing the special kits for the game. We are working with Five Ultimate, our uniform supplier, in the hopes that we will be able to sell replica jerseys for the fans – stay tuned for more developments on that front!

If you can’t attend the game in person, you can watch the game live on the Seattle Cascades Facebook page and support this step towards bringing gender equity to the AUDL. You can also get updates on the Seattle Cascades Cup Facebook event page, Twitter @seattlecascades, and @CascadesLIVE on gameday as well as the usual FlameThrowers social media channels.

After the Cascades Cup

The entire purpose of this event is to push forward the fight for gender equity at all levels of ultimate. One game is not enough, and this is not just an issue that affects women wanting to enter the professional ultimate sphere. To continue our effort for the rest of the season, the FlameThrowers will be hosting showcase games for female athletes of all levels:

  • a high school mixed all-star showcase game at 5 PM on Saturday April 22nd, prior to our match up against the San Diego Growlers
  • a women’s rising star showcase game at 5pm on Saturday May 13th, prior to our game against the Seattle Cascades
  • another women’s all-star showcase game later in the season, for established and elite female club athletes

We also continue to work with the Bay Area Disc Association to underwrite and organize clinics and tryouts for youth players, including many young female players, throughout the season.

In addition, we are continuing our direct relationship with the Berkeley HS women’s team, California Roll, who as a team, are running a booth at the FlameThrowers game to raise money for their travel and tournament costs.  We will also be helping them and other female athletes get publicity for their fundraising, tournament performances, and efforts towards equity by amplifying their content and messages through our social media channels.

As always, the FlameThrowers management is open to our fans’ thoughts about this event as a whole, the tryout process, or the complex issue of female representation in the AUDL. (Congrats, Jesse!) Feel free to reach out to our staff at info@sfflamethrowers.com if you would like to discuss any of this further.

Thanks as always for believing in us – we hope this event makes you proud to be a Bay Area ultimate supporter!

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