Q&A With New Female Writers Development (FWD) Participants

Time to meet some of Ultiworld's newest contributors.

Kelsey Hayden and Karoline Hart, 2019 FWD participants.
Kelsey Hayden and Karoline Hart, 2019 FWD participants.

This spring, Ultiworld put out a call for a new program aimed at both helping new ultimate content creators to find their voice and also to diversifying the perspectives shared on our site to be more representative of the community we serve. After going through a wealth of wonderful applications, Ultiworld’s senior staff selected two participants from a tremendous pool to serve as the initial participants in out Female Writers Development (FWD) Program. We’re thrilled to announce that Karoline Hart of Albany, NY and Kelsey Hayden of Halifax, Nova Scotia have been chosen to participate in FWD!

With the program officially kicking off this week, you can expect to start seeing their bylines on our site soon. Before you do, let’s learn a little more about each of them with a little Q&A!

Question 1: What’s your background in ultimate?

Kelsey: I started playing ultimate about four years ago. A friend of mine convinced me to join because I had a background in soccer and basketball but didn’t play anymore and he knew I was missing that competitive outlet in my life. The first two years I played pretty casually, but I found it easy and enjoyable to pick up since I had a lot of the fundamental skills from other sports. Then the moment I felt myself start to improve, I became much more interested and invested. Last year I played on a women’s club team in Halifax, Salty, for the first time and this year I am with them again. I’m also the team manager for an open club team, Madhouse. Nowadays most of my time is spent on a field or a court — Halifax weather does not allow for a long outdoor season! — and I love it.

Karoline: I was always a swimmer, and played ultimate casually. I think I probably had about six years of mediocre league experiences where I learned to just put my head down and run deep for big throws before I moved home to Albany, NY. There, the women’s club community adopted me, and I’ve been getting more invested ever since. I spent two years playing on the local women’s club team and most recently played a season with Boston Snake Country. I’m now returning to the Albany area to start a new women’s team (Rebel Rebel) with the hopes that this team will do for others what the club scene did for me.

Question 2: Why did you decide to apply for FWD?

Kelsey: About six months ago I tore my ACL and meniscus playing ultimate. For a while after that I was really down because I assumed it meant that the next year or more was a complete write-off and that all the progress I had made in ultimate would be lost. But when I saw the post about FWD I had a little revelation — there are tons of ways to be involved in the ultimate community and to continue to learn and grow as a player, even when I can’t play myself. I knew by getting involved from a reporting and writing perspective, I could gain a whole new lens in which to view the game and this year wouldn’t be a waste, but rather a really good opportunity.

Karoline: My day job is farming, so I have a lot of alone time. I find myself coming back to podcasts about ultimate, thinking about games, setting up defenses in my head, wondering about the effectiveness of certain throws. I also spend a lot of time trying to figure out what would make ultimate truly a sport for everyone. When the FWD program came across my radar, it stuck out to me as a way to highlight the parts of the sport that I love, and bring to light people in the world of ultimate who get overlooked and undervalued.

Question 3: What are you looking forward to during the program?

Kelsey: I’m really looking forward to attending and reporting on tournaments I’ve never been to and seeing some incredible ultimate in person. Watching teams compete on video is great, but there’s nothing as exciting as experiencing the atmosphere live. I’m also excited to make connections and work with people I would never otherwise have the opportunity to meet. I can only imagine how much I’ll learn about writing and ultimate from the vast pool of talented and experienced people I’ll be working with and talking to.

Karoline: Learning to tell a good sports story! I’m excited to learn how to share what makes ultimate beautiful and worth the time we all spend on it. I am also just excited to spend time thinking about the game I love so much and to broaden my perspective and my understanding of the sport.

Question 4: Who are some of the women in ultimate you admire and why?

Kelsey: I know this sounds a little cheesy, but I really admire a lot of the women I play with here in Halifax. There are so many incredible athletes who push themselves and their competition day in and day out. Unfortunately, I’m not the only person who has struggled with a significant injury around here; there have been many women knocked down, but time and time again they get up stronger and better than ever. When I was down in the dumps about being hurt, I felt grateful that I didn’t have to look too far for examples of strong, badass women in the ultimate community.

In terms of someone I love to watch play? Lauren Kimura on Toronto 6ixers. What can’t she do?

Karoline: Current player? I find Kelly Hyland and Leah Tsinajinnie both ridiculously fun to watch. Legend wise? Dom Fontenette. Twitter follow / social change-maker? Jenna Weiner.

Question 5: What are you most excited about in this upcoming club season?

Kelsey: I just got cleared to play again and so I’m more eager to compete than ever before! I’m also really excited to work with Madhouse, the open ultimate team I’m helping with because I’ve never experienced the coaching side of this sport and I suspect it’s going to be really rewarding and fun. And it probably goes without saying, but I’m unbelievably pumped to go to write at Nationals!!

Karoline: I am looking forward to writing at Club Nationals — it will be really rewarding to capture some of the excitement that happens there. I’m also back playing in the women’s circuit after playing mixed last year, and I love both divisions, but I’m really excited to be growing this new team and to be contributing to women’s again.

  1. Ultiworld

    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

  2. Kelsey Hayden
    Kelsey Hayden

    Kelsey Hayden is an Ultiworld reporter, primarily covering the Club Women's Division. She is originally from Goulds, Newfoundland, and currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She plays on a women's club team, Salty and a women's masters club team, StellO.

  3. Karoline Hart
    Karoline Hart

    Karoline Hart runs a small vegetable farm in upstate New York. That really should be enough physical activity for anyone. But with a lifelong passion for sports, she makes time in her summer to play as much ultimate as possible. She most recently played the 2018 season with Boston Snake Country and is helping form a women’s team, Rebel Rebel, in Upstate New York this summer. She hopes to spend this summer learning how to create engaging sports narratives so she can use those skills to draw attention to the unseen and underrepresented members of this sport.

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