Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day!

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day! I'm writing this post from somewhere (in the middle of nowhere) between St. Louis and Nashville. Today is a huge day for Without Limits, and it seems fitting that this day coincides with a holiday that celebrates the big things happening in girls' and women's sports. :)

Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending some time with the Wash U women's team-- I spent a day in St. Louis, caught some of their practice, and watched them destroy the varsity soccer team in IM basketball. I also got to spend some time with former and current captains, as well as a former and current coaches. There are few teams, besides those I have played on myself, that I have invested so much time and energy into. Watching their ridiculous numbers and energy at practice last night was a bit of a surreal experience. While I take no credit for how far they've come over the past few years, I can't help but feel incredibly proud of them, and to feel incredibly lucky that they are one of my most trusted partner teams. You all have taught me so much. Thank you.

Today, I am headed to Nashville to stay with an old college friend who now coaches the USN girls' team. We'll be running a tournament together next month, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with someone who shaped my early college ultimate career and to bring some of the best women's ultimate in the country to the backyard of the girls she coaches. It's a bit of a reminder that
as uncertain as the future is, friends are the one constant.

So, why is today such a big day? Well, aside from being halfway through my cross-country drive (YAY!), we reached a huge milestone for Layouts today.

The tournament is now completely full and we have all of the guest coaches we need.

28 teams, 28 coaches.

Over the past couple of years, I have felt a growing need to help the "next tier" of women's teams-- the teams who do not have the opportunities or resources that many of us are fortunate enough to have. Their passion for the game and their love for their teams are no different than what is found at the elite level-- but there is a gap in skill level and competitiveness because they have few ways to improve their game. The idea for Layouts was born out of wanting to do something to change this, and out of the desire to help a friend's team fundraise money for their season.

We launched what we thought was an awesome idea... and were met by what can best be described as the most underwhelming response I have ever received to any of my ideas to date. (And that says a lot, because I have had some truly crazy / terrible ideas.) Our emails recruiting teams went largely unanswered, the few teams we did get on board started to get cold feet, and we weren't even sure we could the guest coaches we needed. At the end of November, the organizers met to discuss the situation-- pulling the plug on an idea we were so passionate about was never an option, but we talked about scaling the event down, moving the tournament to a smaller field site, and adjusting expectations. We were discouraged to say the least.

With the end of November came a lot of life changes. A new job, no place to live, and a need for attention to other family and life matters...

What came next can only be described as a miracle. In two months, we have added 23 teams to the tournament. Our friends have stepped up HUGE as guest coaches. We now have the pieces for an event that has the potential to be a game-changer in college women's ultimate.

I could go on and on about every single coach who has committed to coming to this event, and about the dozens of friends around the world who have donated to make this project happen. I could tell you a million reasons why you should support what we are doing. And if you feel compelled to support this project, please do.

But Nashville awaits, and I ramble enough as it is.

So just a few important shoutouts to close this:
- Amber Sinicrope and Smith College LunaDisc for making me believe in this project even when I was ready to give up
- Lindsey Hack for recruiting MANY of the guest coaches, and for giving me a place to call home for a couple of months
- Adriana Withers, Steve Meyers, and the team at VC Ultimate for supporting this, and every other Without Limits project
- All of the phenomenal guest coaches- teammates, rivals, and above all, dear friends. Thank you.

Thank you for following our journey, and for supporting us however you can. Here's to many more years of working for the growth and development of the sport we all love.

Without Limits Founder

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