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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Women’s ultimate frisbee team paves way to North Carolina

Western’s women’s Ultimate Frisbee team will be paying its own way to the Division I College Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina Friday, May 27, to Monday, May 30. Western’s team, Chaos, plans to protest the state’s controversial bathroom law while competing in the events.

On March 23, North Carolina passed House Bill 2, a law stating people must use the bathroom matching their biological gender. Under the law, people who identify as transgender must use the bathroom of their assigned biological gender unless they change their biological gender on their birth certificate.

Western is not required to pull funding for the trip but chose to in solidarity with Governor Jay Inslee’s decision to ban non-essential travel to North Carolina, Director of Communications Paul Cocke said in a statement given to KIRO News.

As a result, Chaos cannot use any funding or representation from Western. This means the $20,000 necessary to attend nationals will have to be raised from other outlets such as family, friends, businesses and private supporters, Chaos Fundraising Committee Chair Kaitlin Webster said.

“Going to nationals this year, I feel like we’re working together more with teams around the nation versus the past years where it was all about Chaos. This time around, it’s about everybody, and I think that’s the biggest difference.”

Junior Tiffany Phan

USA Ultimate, the national governing body for Ultimate Frisbee, was unable to change the location of nationals.

For senior and team captain Alea Clymber, this game will be the last chapter in her collegiate career.

  “I didn’t expect this at all, of course. I wanted to go to nationals, but who knew that this was going to be the situation we were in?” Clymber said. “It’s an amazing opportunity as a qualifying team who’s aware of what’s going on and who’s passionate about it. I think we can make a big difference.”

Chaos decided unanimously to attend nationals despite the bill, junior Tiffany Phan said.  

“We had to think about what was the best way we could make the most impact,” Phan, who has been on the team since her freshman year, said. “We decided it would be best to just go there, play the sport we love and support the community there,” Phan said.

To make the trip, the team will need to raise $20,000 before Memorial Day weekend.

The cause is worth the effort, Clymber and fellow team captain junior Jessie Thoreson said. The team decided that raising its own money would be important for the team to show it respects the university’s decision to pull funding, Thoreson said.

The club has been doing everything from selling baked goods to reaching out to other organizations that oppose the bill, such as Bellingham Ultimate. The team created apparel signifying their support of the LGBT community, such as shirts with their team name in rainbow lettering.

In North Carolina, Chaos will be competing against 80 teams from across the nation. The team plans to spread awareness by talking to the other teams about the legislation. The team hopes this will give the issue a voice, Webster said.

“I think when you get 80 teams behind this one effort, that’s a huge group of people that can make a really big difference and really stand up for this,” Thoreson said.

Chaos has been communicating with other teams in the country leading up to the tournament.

“Going to nationals this year, I feel like we’re working together more with teams around the nation versus the past years where it was all about Chaos. This time around, it’s about everybody, and I think that’s the biggest difference,” Phan said.

The law could cause the event to be moved next year, Thoreson said.

“[USA Ultimate] is taking action to not hold it there in the future,” Thoreson said.

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