When someone mentions club sports, the typical contenders come to mind such as flag football, baseball and soccer. There is one lesser-known sport, though, that is establishing a strong community here at the University of Tulsa: ultimate frisbee.
Ultimate frisbee is a non-contact team sport played across the world. It is played between two teams on a rectangular field, similar to a football field, with end zones at either end. The offensive team passes the disc from player to player towards the end zone while the defensive team attempts to intercept the passes. A goal is scored when a player completes a pass to a teammate in the end zone.
The sport is self-officiated, meaning there are no referees and players must call each other’s fowls. The responsibility for fair play then falls on the players, a concept known as “spirit of the game.”
The “ultimate community” on campus consists of the already established all male team, Party Fowl, and the new all female team, Coriolis Force, led by junior Rachel Deeds and senior Claire Dang. Since its creation, Coriolis Force has been drawing attention not only as the first all-female ultimate frisbee team but also as the first all-female club sport on campus.
At the center of it all, Deeds is tackling every challenge head-on while creating an inclusive and competitive environment for her fellow players. Her love of the sport began in high school while looking for something new after years of playing soccer.
“The biggest thing that attracted me to the sport was the ‘spirit of the game,’” Deeds said. “There’s a certain level of spirit and respect that everyone has for each other and the game no matter how much competition there is.”
Coming to TU, she joined, then co-ed, Party Fowl, co-ed being a term she used lightly. “It was co-ed in the sense that it was like me and two other girls playing on a guys team,” she said.
“The majority of the time when we traveled to tournaments, I would be matched up with a guy.”
It was around this time that the idea of creating an all female team began to form. Along with Dang, Deeds began holding information sessions to see if there were potential players to form a team. After generating enough interest, they decided to put their plan into action.
“There were about 10 girls who came to the information session last year, and, at the activities fair this year, a lot of those same girls came,” She said. “Since then, we’ve gained more momentum. One of the girls who came to the first couple of weeks of practice brought her roommate out one day, and the next week, that roommate came back and brought her best friend, which was really cool.”
Coriolis Force has two practices a week as well as one hour of unorganized throwing. The team has attended two tournaments so far this year, one in Manhattan, KS, and one in Norman, OK.
The tournaments have served as learning experiences for the team, giving them valuable skills that they have applied to later practices and games. They have also given the team the chance to meet and bond with new people they never would have met otherwise.
Building a team from the ground up did have its share of challenges, though. One of the biggest challenges Deeds and Dang faced was developing a strategy to retain players. The most common reason why new club sports teams don’t make it is because they can’t retain players, so they made sure to focus on creating an atmosphere that kept players around for the long run.
What they didn’t have to face, though, was any oppression from individuals who were against the idea. While establishing the first all-female club sports team on campus is a big deal, they met very little opposition while getting team up and running. In fact, quite the opposite. Most people were very supportive of them, especially the other team, Party Fowl.
“When Claire and I for sure decided to do this, it was heartbreaking at first because we were splitting apart from the team,” she said, “but, in reality, we are just growing the ultimate community on campus, so they were very supportive.”
Even with the challenges and added stress that comes with getting a club sport up and running, Deeds is still having a blast and hopes to continue to share the experience with more girls as the team grows. “It’s awesome to see how eager these girls are to grow and to learn,” she concludes. “I can’t wait to see where this team is headed.”