This afternoon, we bring another Midwest success story to you. In this post, Lindsey Gapstur of Iowa State Woman Scorned shares about her team's development and the role that Without Limits has played in providing her team with more opportunities. Woman Scorned has gone from a middle-of-the-pack team at Regionals just a few short years ago to finishing 10th at the College Championships this year. Read Gapstur's take on how this happend.
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My sophomore year of college I joined the ultimate frisbee team. The women’s team at Iowa State was far from new, and their intense workouts and dedication to having a good time were more than enough to get me hooked. I definitely didn’t take the entire thing very seriously at first, and I can actually remember thinking “this is a great workout to get me in shape, but there is no way I will stick with this for very long.” Needless to say, I was very wrong.
My story with Woman Scorned started in 2008, but it was by no means the beginning. The team was founded in 2002 and had 6 years of insanely talented ladies who pooled resources together and built a program that I was lucky enough to walk on to and reap the benefits of their hard work and dedication. In 2009, Woman Scorned installed our first 100% attendance policy and our season resulted with our first showing at the College National tournament. Woman Scorned placed 15th with only one win in the tournament, but we were given the opportunity to play teams from all over the nation (and Canada) who we had never before had the chance to compete against.
The following season was definitely eye opening for the team. After becoming a “nationals team” all sorts of doors started to open. Invitations to tournaments we had not previously attended like Centex and Philly Invite were extended to us, allowing us the option to play elite college teams like we had only seen at Nationals. Knowing our biggest hurdle the previous season was our lack of exposure to these teams, we took advantage and attended five non-series tournaments in the spring (three of which were run by Without Limits). Iowa State also hosted a winter scrimmage to gain more exposure to our regional competition and build relationships between teams. Unfortunately we were unable to pull together to perform to potential in this season. At Regionals, injuries and underperformance resulted in a 5th place finish for Woman Scorned, and powerhouse programs Wisconsin and Carleton again took the two Nationals bids for the North Central Region.
Although our 2010 season’s ending was far from ideal, we used it to fuel our 2011 season. One of our biggest focuses for the new season was team cohesiveness. It was important to us that everyone from our rookies all the way to our veterans we were working toward the same goals and accomplishing them together. We built depth by playing fall tournaments with open lines, and we continued attending highly competitive Without Limits tournaments in the spring. Through strong leadership, intense dedication, and hard work from everyone on our team, Woman Scorned peaked at a prime time this past season, winning sectionals, placing 3rd at regionals, and taking 10th place at Nationals.
Although Woman Scorned has grown to become a more competitive program, we still maintain the same personality as a team. We have set our goals higher with each season but our core team values have not changed since we began:
1: Having fun is the most important thing. Winning does not dictate fun. If you play the game right and give all you have, ultimate is fun whether you win or lose.
2: We want to be the team that every team wants to play. Compete your hardest against every opponent but never at the sacrifice of spirit.
Woman Scorned does not make cuts and we are only just reaching the point where we can attempt to field a B team. We focus on developing every player to be well rounded, and we value dedication and spirit above playing ability. Most importantly, we hold each other accountable to ensure that every player is dedicated to the team and working towards the same goals. Beyond the game, we are all friends and that is truly what brings us together as a successful team. The sacrifices we make are not just for ourselves, but each of our teammates. This team mentality has truly accelerated our success as an ultimate program.
Success did not come to us over night or even in one season. It takes time and dedication, and often the ones who give the most don’t even get to experience it. In my opinion, however, the best way to become a better team and create a program is to give all of yourself and not hold back. Make the commitment and challenge your teammates to do the same. One person can’t make a team successful alone, but you can be the first one to step up and bring your teammates up with you. Every single person on a team has the potential to make an impact on that program; big or small, good or bad. It is when you truly make this commitment that you will realize how many resources are actually available to you.
For Woman Scorned, Michelle Ng and Without Limits have been one big resource in our success. One great benefit that WL provides is the guarantee of a quality run tournament. Don’t get me wrong, we are good at setting up our own fields, remembering to bring water because it may not be provided, and figuring out our own brackets because the tournament director is worried about the men’s division and tournament central is a couple miles away on the main fields. However, it is really nice to just have someone do all of this for you so the team’s focus can remain on playing the games. When Michelle is running a tournament, every detail is thought about and no issue is left unresolved.
Additionally, the opportunities WL provides reach far beyond playing competitive tournaments. Without Limits supports our core team values in many ways. Midwest Throwdown is a competitive tournament that works to spread the love of ultimate in the Central regions. This tournament has also offered skills clinics to share knowledge of the game from elite club players to college teams of every shape and size. The Centex dance-off and pool play spirit discs at Midwest Throwdown are just two examples of fun ways spirit of the game and networking between teams are incorporated into these tournaments. Woman Scorned is just one of the numerous teams who continue to benefit from the generosity and devotion of everyone involved in Without Limits.
The story of Woman Scorned isn’t extra glamorous, and it doesn’t include any national or even regional titles. However, I am very proud to say I am a part of it. It is the story of a small team who, through hard work and dedication, has built our program up to reach the goals we have set. By pushing ourselves as well as each other and reaching out to utilize the resources we can access, Woman Scorned has become one of the top college teams in the nation. Thankfully, our story is far from over. Who knows where our future will take us, but my hope is that with the expansion of resources like Without Limits, Woman Scorned and other dedicated teams will also continue to prosper.