Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Introducing: Women’s Wednesday

by Mario O'Brien

I am extremely excited and proud to announce a new addition to the RISE UP social media line up: Women’s Wednesday!

Why are we doing this? What are the goals of Women’s Wednesday?

As many have investigated and acknowledged, women in ultimate face unique challenges that the community is still trying to understand and overcome. I often wonder what my role, as a male in the ultimate community, could or should be in addressing these challenges. I want to do my part. I also wonder how RISE UP can play a role in helping affect positive change in this area.

The primary goal of Women’s Wednesday will be to share, spread, and highlight resources created by, for, and/or about women.

One major takeaway we’ve had after giving clinics around the world is that women really want to learn from other women. Multiple women have expressed to me that they want women role models and leaders.  Women’s Wednesday is a step towards giving women and girls someone to look up to. As a side note, I’ve also prioritized training female coaches to help put on RISE UP programming.

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So what exactly is Women’s Wednesday?

RISE UP will be dedicating Wednesdays on our social media calendar to sharing resources specifically for women. It won’t just be any women’s content, it will be RISE UP flavored content, focused on topics that help players and leaders improve at ultimate. Why only Wednesday? We want it to be a consistent weekly resource that the community can look forward to and rely on. Will this evolve? Of course.

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Role Models

At the GUM presentation at the US Open this year, listening intently in a room filled with some of the most accomplished women in ultimate, my interest was peaked by something I heard, something to the tune of “we need to create more Mia Hamms”. This made sense to me, but I didn’t understand it until I had some time to reflect on my Mia Hamm.

I’ve recently done a lot of meditating on the impact of the various role models in my life, as well as how role models affect people in general. The most powerful personal anecdote I come back to is that when I was growing up, I wanted to be Michael Jordan. I wanted to be a professional athlete. It was real to me. It was possible. It doesn’t matter that I can look back on it now and realize maybe it wasn’t possible to do all the things he did. What does matter is that it affected me on a daily basis as a YMCA gym-rat practicing my moves and my jumper. It motivated me. I don’t have science or hard data to prove how it affected me. Was Jordan as powerful a force in my life as others? My mom? My friends? My teachers? My coaches? Certainly not, but he was living example of the goals I thought I wanted to achieve.

But if I was girl, who would have been my Michael Jordan? Was there one for me? Would I have been motivated to be a pro athlete? Motivated to go out in my driveway and work on my jumper?

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It’s also important to remember that the media played a huge role in creating my “Michael Jordan + Pro Athlete Dream”. I understand why one of GUM’s goals is to create media for girls, and start creating role models for girls to look up to. I hope RISE UP can help towards that end.

Who’s helping? Xuny? Neeley?

Before launching this project I reached out to a number of friends and women in the ultimate community to get feedback on how to move forward. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, and will hopefully help us have a greater impact.

One key takeaway was that a woman should lead this project, but not necessarily someone with a ton of leadership experience in the ultimate community. It should be a learning and growth experience for them too! Also, we think intentionally reaching out to young women from a variety of communities for feedback about content will be another good idea.

With that, I’m excited to introduce Xuny (pronounced soo-nee) Haley, the Women’s Wednesday content manager! I met Xuny this past summer, she’s on fire for anything ultimate, she’s a great writer, and she’s just fantastic. You may already know her, as she’s already written a couple different articles for Skyd. Jonathan Neeley (RISE UP’s Content Manager) and I will also be providing guidance for Xuny along the way.

This is exciting! Tell your female AND male friends!

We’re really excited, and we hope you, the community, help us grow and strengthen the role of women in ultimate. This is us doing our small part in a way that makes sense for who we are and what we do.

Fellas, this isn’t just a ladies’ thing. We can help too. More women in ultimate makes the entire community stronger. When we raise the water level ALL the boats rise. Feel free to forward the content we share with the women’s ultimate players you know.

Please help us spread the word, and enjoy! We welcome any feedback, so please feel free to email me at

Always Building,


  • Deborah Stutz Lee

    This is great. I’m excited to see what topics you will cover and ideas you have to share. I’ve been running an actual “Women’s Wednesday” ultimate group in Albany NY, since 2006. I like anything focused on helping grow women’s ultimate.

  • Maya

    Any chance you’d create an archive of Women’s Wednesdays? I find myself wanting to look back at all of them and am hoping there is a way that’s more straightforward than scrolling back through. Seems like an awesome thing to document! Thanks for helping inspire women. It’s so encouraging how the men of the ultimate community are investing in growing the women’s sport.

    • Maya,

      Glad you’re enjoying the series, and thanks for the suggestion! For the time being we’re hosting the Women’s Wednesday posts here on our Whiteboard blog, so you can access them at any time. Let us know what you think of that decision and we’ll keep working to get you the content in the best way possible!

      Thanks again,

      – The RISE UP Team