The highest profile women's pro matchup to date.
May 8, 2018 by Ally McCarthy in News with 0 comments
As the Indiana professional women’s team, Indy Red, duly noted in a tweet last week, “Women’s pro has gone international!” Women’s semi-professional ultimate didn’t even exist until the beginning of 2018, so how has the Austin Torch managed to organize an international contest as the inaugural professional women’s ultimate game in Texas?
The Torch team leadership had their hearts set on May 12 for their home opener but struggled to find a competitor. They opened communications with the San Francisco and Seattle AUDL teams, but both teams do not have deep women’s rosters and are mostly focused on mixed professional initiatives. The Torch also attempted to make a deal with the Indy Red or the Atlanta Soul, but both teams were unable to commit enough of their players to this weekend.
Throughout their conversations with Atlanta Soul, the Torch leadership learned that Maddy Frey — a player, captain, and organizer for the Atlanta Soul — also plays for Colombia’s top women’s club team, Revolution. She spearheaded the communications between the Torch and Revolution, involving the Revolution coach, Mauricio Moore, and began to make plans. The Torch had budgeted to cover up to $3000 of expenses for the visiting team in Austin, but, after calculating all the costs, it would be around $7000 for the Revolution to play in Austin, all expenses paid.
The Torch leadership wanted to be able to provide a professional playing opportunity for the ladies of the Revolution and updated their budget to include covering half of the costs, up to $3500. They have already begun heavily fundraising: hosting a booth at all Austin Sol games selling concessions and merchandise, holding a trivia night, and opening up the opportunity for supporters to sponsor a player.1
Once they hit the go button, and it appeared as though the Revolution would be coming to Austin, the Torch general manager, Colleen Kepner, began to have some doubts. She was scared about how it would turn out, worried that the Revolution would crush the Torch. The Revolution is a deeply experienced and talented international program that won the 2017 US Open, and the Torch only announced its roster last month.
Eventually, though, she realized that it comes down to remembering the women’s professional teams’ goals. This season isn’t about winning or being crowned the champions. It is about providing a platform, in Kepner’s words, “to showcase and feature these incredible women.”
Torch owner Bonesaw Kepner said that if marketing the sport outside the ultimate community was a priority, this game “does add a little extra confusion to the general public.” But the main goals of the Torch are to focus on mitigating costs for women to play ultimate, creating visibility for the sport, and unifying ultimate in Texas across all teams, cities, genders, and ages.
The community response has been remarkable. Kepner recounted an interaction she had with a 16-year old player, who expressed her excitement to be able to watch the game in Austin.
In some ways, the Torch vs. Revolution game has already succeeded. After the announcement of the planned game, more community members have reached out to help the Torch, and they hope to meet more fundraising goals at the game on May 12. In addition, the team has partnered with a local pizza shop, which will be selling pizza at the game with 100% of the proceeds going to the Torch.
You can catch the game at House Park prior to the Austin Sol vs. Dallas Roughnecks game at 7 PM (one ticket gets you in for the doubleheader), or you can tune in to the free Ultiworld live stream on Saturday, May 12th, at 5:00 PM CST.
All players got sponsored in less than 24 hours! ↩