How many of your friendships start with a dead bird's head being handed to you in a napkin?
Yes, you read that correctly. At Midwest Throwdown a few years ago, two Wisconsin players (who will remain unnamed) walked up to me and handed me a dead bird's head in a napkin. I screamed, threw the napkin aside, and proceeded to freak out, much to the delight of the crowd of Wisconsin players nearby. My relationship with Bella Donna hasn't been the same since. In the years following that incident, they've been my teammates and housemates, and a few of them even attended my best friend's wedding in May. I've also been gifted two more dead birds by other players (one of whom is now my club teammate), and I live my life in perpetual fear of winged creatures. But that's another story.
One of the best things to come out of that bird incident was a friendship with then-Wisconsin star, and current Brute Squad and Smith College player, Amber Sinicrope. Our friendship mostly involved random Gchat conversations, bonding over our shared jersey number, and me making fun of Amber's love for vests. Over the years, Amber has become one of my dearest friends. She has been a big supporter of my work, and is probably one of the few people who has any insight into non-frisbee Michelle.
Last year, Amber transferred to Smith and helped lead the team to a Quarterfinals finish at the USA Ultimate D-III College Championships. I was fortunate enough to watch the team's breakthrough win against Middlebury at Keystone Classic, and then see their impressive run at the D-III Championships. While the season ended on a high note for them, I also saw some of their struggles. Rag-tag uniforms, rejection from nearby middle-tier tournaments, the growing pains of getting the buy-in it takes to compete at the next level. Those things were all very real challenges (and opportunities) for Smith this past season, so when given the chance, I jumped at the opportunity to do more for them.
This fall, LunaDisc is partnering with my club team, Molly Brown, to run Virginia Fusion. The goal was to help Smith make some money to create more opportunities for next season, but things quickly snowballed into something bigger. The Smith girls, who are a truly fantastic bunch, have decided to run a tournament focused on D-III and on-the-cusp teams next spring. The tournament, Virginia is for Layouts, has been specifically planned to reach that "next" tier of teams, the ones looking for opportunities to improve, and who often get overlooked by the big name, "elite" tournaments.
But that's not enough. We will also be offering the next iteration of the Roundup Division at this tournament. We want to bring in club players to mentor and guest coach young teams, and to help take them to the next level. We're in preliminary talks with a nearby women's club team, as well as some other players from around the country, and we're hopeful that we can raise the money and support that it will take to make this happen. It's a daunting task to get a new tournament off the ground, not to mention creating a development opportunity like the Roundup Division.
If you want to help, there's more information here:
So, why today for this post? Well, not only is Amber an accomplished frisbee player, she's also quite talented in her life off the field. Her exhibit, Surface Tension: Reconsidering Water as Subject, opens today. Check it out if you're in the Northampton area, or click here to read more. Kudos, Amber! :)