It was early this past April. Scrolling through Twitter, I read an Ultiworld notification about an article gleaming, “San Francisco FlameThrowers to Host Women’s All-Star Game.” I instantly racked my brain for an explanation; was the All-Star Tour happening again?? As I read the article, this feeling began to erupt in me. A feeling of pride and giddy excitement. It was real - a reverberation of the previous summer’s All-Star Tour. The Bay area women gained support from far more than just their immediate community. They had succeeded in promoting their event nation-wide, gaining support and resources from their local professional team, and then live-streamed the event for all to see. Reviving the excitement of the 2015 All-Star Ultimate Tour, they fed the flame of a conversation about providing women higher opportunities in ultimate. This is an obstacle not easily overcome. And I know this because it is an obstacle that Kansas City is tackling as we speak.
Last summer the Kansas City women’s club team, KC Wicked, partnered with Kansas City Ultimate, a long-standing recreational organization. This was our second year as a club team. KCU offered a large amount of support to our team in terms of finances and other forms of support such as gatorade and equipment at practice. In return, Wicked helped to recruit sponsors for the league, set up fields for summer league and the league tournament, and assisted with the youth clinics offered by KCU. One extraordinary opportunity KCU offered to Wicked was the chance to play a showcase game during one of the league nights late in the summer. KCU asked that teams play to 11 rather than 15 so everyone would have the chance to watch the showcase game while enjoying complimentary beverages.
The showcase game hadn’t even started before I heard grumbles of the games being capped early. People voiced their frustration, having paid a fee to play a guaranteed number of games throughout the summer, and here they were getting cut short just to watch a scrimmage by the local women’s team. Yes, there was a large number of people who greatly supported the game and cheered us on, but the weight of the complaints, and heckles for "hammers" brought down the level of competition. It didn't quite live up to my personal expectations.
But often times, it’s failure that drives re-evaluation. Where KC was not as successful, we can take from examples, like the Bay area showcase, that were successful. KC Wicked will most definitely have another showcase game this year. We have more experience and more support than last year on our side, and have extended the effort to the men’s and mixed teams of KC to include them as well. My hope is that the Kansas City ultimate community will learn that this showcase is more than just a message to local women/players that there’s a team for them. This showcase is one way we’re contributing to the conversation of gender equality in athletics. This is a small step in the right direction. So, this year, let's make it an even bigger step.