One of the many benefits of athletics for young women is the sense of empowerment that comes from moving your body and being part of a team. For adolescents struggling with body image issues (and yes! it happens in the Middle East, too!), learning that your body is a tool and a resource for things other than looking good can be a revelation. Sports also provide a certain structure in which adolescent girls, provided with the right environment, can feel safe being a little rowdier, a little more assertive, a little more themselves than in other social contexts. While mixing it up on a team with girls from cultures that you fear may not seem like the ideal environment for such individualistic expression, it is that mix of challenge and absolute commitment to mutual respect and friendship that makes UP the perfect place for young women to find their voices.
Camp coaches Jonathan Masler (Frizzly Bears), Nancy Glass (Froggy Frogs), and Josh Seamon (White Noise) reflect on some of the transformations they saw at camp this summer.
The Frizzly Bears really came together as a team. The coaches preached the value of unity from day one, but with the help of a couple day-one leaders, and girls who really bought into the camp environment without hesitation, the entire team really came together unlike I’ve seen at camp before. There were no problems or issues between girls on the team whatsoever, and everything we did, or didn’t do, was done as a collective. The icebreaker games (medusa, WAH, detective, etc) became a staple, and even when there was argument over which one to play, all the girls enjoyed playing with each other once we got started. When we talked about everyone working hard together in our practices (often at times when the energy was low post-swimming), the girls collectively put it on themselves to raise their focus and complete our drills together. Without being prompted, the girls would put their arms around each other when we would bring it in to a huddle. By the end of camp, we had a lot of tears, but a lot of grateful messages for having each other, as well as hopeful ones looking forward to the future. All and all, a remarkable group of young women that operated beautifully all under the idea of team.
-Noa was someone that was a true camp champion. She came into camp having never played frisbee, nor any organized sports for that matter. She was incredibly opened minded from day one – in terms of Ultimate, camp, the team, and everyone at camp. She stayed relatively quite, but led the team by example in our practices, and on the field. She mixed it up with EVERYONE on the team, and stayed positive throughout. By the end of camp, she had earned a spot on the starting 7, and the admiration of everyone who’d had a chance to interact with her.
-Jonathan Masler, Frizzly Bear Coach
One of my favorites was watching Heba’s (from Jericho) progression unfold. She came with no throwing experience and she didn’t exactly look like a athlete. She left camp capable of throwing both her backhand and forehand with good spin and accuracy. She was reluctant/shy to speak but let me know in no uncertain terms that she was displeased when I subbed her out after 2 points and wanted back in…from there in out I knew we had her!
-Nancy Glass, Froggy Frog Coach
On day 1 of camp, Maia came across as focused but a bit reserved. She always worked hard in all of our initial activities, but didn’t really make herself known in any sort of loud way. By the end of camp, Maia was clambering for play time on and off the field, and helped drive lots of team activities. She never changed who she was. She just combined her focus and razor-sharp wit with a bit more confidence and comfort. She stepped up big and at the end of camp was chosen as one of the members of the all-camp “starting 7″, chosen for their overall play and how they live spirit of the game.