Hi there! My name is Leah and I am one of the program coordinators for All Girl Everything Ultimate Program. For the past eightish months I’ve been working with an awesome team of awesome people on AGE UP. There is so much cool stuff to say about the program that I could write about, but I will try to give you a basic breakdown for now.
The All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP) brings together girls from all over Seattle to play Ultimate together, meet elite college and club players, and discuss issues they face in life as female athletes and teen girls. Made possible with grants from the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA Ultimate, AGE UP’s program goals include empowering female athletes, building community across geography, age and race, and engaging in critical discussion of social justice issues.
Volunteer coaches and participants all had an amazing time kicking off with a hat tournament in the fall followed by 10 sessions over the course of the winter at Jefferson Community Center on Beacon Hill. In total, over 30 middle and high school girls (from over ten schools) and 15 volunteer coaches participated in the sessions and attended the retreat. For many of the girls, the hat tournament and weekly practices were their first experiences playing single-gender Ultimate, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to build skills and confidence on the field.
Some of the outstanding discussion sessions included collage projects to examine body image in popular media, a visit from a nutritionist to discuss healthy habits, an activity co-facilitated by one of the participants that examined how we experience socioeconomic status in our lives, and a sex positivity jeopardy game that emphasized sexual health and access to information. While the Ultimate practice portion was a little restricted by the gym space we were playing in, we overcame with lots of conditioning, core, and agility as supplements to the practices coached by some of Seattle’s (and the world’s) best!
At the retreat we had the opportunity to play some extended practices outdoors (in the snow – thanks, Seattle weather gods) and ran a mini coaching clinic for the girls in preparation for the next stage of the program (read on). What else did we experience at the retreat?
Sardiiines! At night. At the Shoreline YMCA (hooray for the Shoreline Y and Caitlin Cordell!!). Also, an impromptu dance performance by program coordinators Lisa Niemann and Hana Kawai. Okay, maybe those are just my personal highlights. We also were super lucky to be joined by some outstanding Masters students from the UW School of Social Work who facilitated interactive evaluation and appreciation activities for us. Social workers rule, you should make friends with some.
Everyone has been having an awesome time, as demonstrated by our keywords generated by the girls during the retreat: community, support, LOL (that’s lots of love, though there was also plenty of laughing out loud…). The workshops and retreat offered unprecedented spaces to talk about personal and community social issues with girls and women from diverse backgrounds. Volunteer coach and Element beast Jillian Goodreau wrote:
“Programs like AGE UP are so beneficial to the community. The participants (both players and coaches) now share both the bond of trust created by openly discussing the tough issues we addressed, and the love of ultimate. I look forward to cheering for these girls, and the opportunity to possibly play with them in a few years.”
Stage two of AGE UP is starting up with clinics coached by AGE UP participants with support from the volunteer coaches at elementary and middle schools. Coaching at the clinics will implement the leadership and Ultimate skills that the girls have developed over the course of the Winter. I’ll write again soon to let you know how it’s going!