Homegrown: Athena’s Mother-Daughter Duo

Fiona Cashin's exposure to ultimate started practically at birth and continues to this day at the University of Georgia, all thanks to her mom - and coach - Jami Cashin

The Cashin family, Grant, Jami, and Fiona (left to right). Photo: Edward Stephens
The Cashin family, Grant, Jami, and Fiona (left to right).

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The Cashins are one of those ultimate frisbee families. Jami and Grant met while playing in Atlanta in the 1990s, got married, moved to Athens, and started coaching the University of Georgia teams. While pregnant with their first child, Jami coached the University of Georgia women’s team to a national championship in 2001.

That child, Fiona, is now a senior playing for Georgia Athena.1 She is one of the team’s captains and their Callahan nominee. Her coaches? Her parents, Grant and Jami, who took the job in the fall of 2022 after a couple decades off. It’s a rare enough phenomenon for a coach and player at the college level to be a parent and child, and especially rare for it to be a mother and daughter.2

I caught up with Jami and Fiona after a session of pickup goalty the other day – the Cashins are pillars of the Athens goalty scene – to interview them about their unique relationship.

Jami, when did you start playing?

Jami: I started playing in 1990. I had just graduated from Emory, and some friends of mine said, “Hey, come and play. We need some people – we need women.” And so I went out and played, and it was really fun. I guess it was summer league, Atlanta summer league. And some Ozone girls saw me and said, “Hey, come play with Ozone.” And so I did.

I started playing with Ozone in 1990 and played with them until I had Fiona – I think maybe I played one more time after I had Fiona.

Jami Cashin playing for Atlanta Ozone. Photo: Fiona Cashin
Jami Cashin playing for Atlanta Ozone. Photo: Fiona Cashin

Other ultimate frisbee involvement?

Jami: I started Paideia. I started the Paideia team.

What do you mean you started the Paideia team?

Jamie: I was teaching there. I was teaching third and fourth grade, and I was coaching basketball mostly. And so I started Paideia.

Fiona: The ultimate program!

Jamie: Yes, the ultimate frisbee program. And I will say – this was the best part – I got these frisbees that were smaller [in diameter] but weighted perfectly. Like regular frisbees but smaller. And so my third- and fourth-graders would play on the playground. People like Dylan, who was in third grade.

Fiona: Dylan who?

Dylan Tunnell was one of your students?!

Jami: He was in there as a youngster, yeah. And just playing with small – you know, where they could throw flicks right away, because it wasn’t these huge heavy frisbees in small hands. That was a good one, to get those on the playground, I thought.

When did you start coaching Georgia?

Jami: I was pregnant with Fiona and I came and coached the women. I was extremely pregnant with Fiona. And we went to Nationals and won! In Boston in … ‘91?

Fiona: 2001

Jami: 2001! Oh right right right, because that’s when you were born. [Laughter]

Did you ever think Fiona would play one day?

Jami: Not really. It was too much for us to have kids and play. So we were just up here in Athens doing our thing. We would play summer league.

Fiona: But not until I was older.

Jami: Yeah, not until later on. I don’t know what we were doing. We played tennis, racquetball. I dunno, we were raising children. It was great.

Fiona: And there’s not a lot of established ultimate in Athens, besides summer league – like no high school, no youth teams.

Jami: There’s not. And I didn’t want to drag… I see these families with their kids on the sideline. And I really just did not want to drag my kids out there. They would get burnt. I would see all these burnt kids on the sideline.

Fiona: And that’s back when everybody was drinking. It was more of a social ultimate.

Jami: That’s so true. That was the other thing, too. I remember one time we were sitting in a circle and someone was passing a joint around, babies in their laps. I was like, “I can’t do this to my baby.” [Laughter]

At what point did you learn that frisbee was a sport people played?

Fiona: I acknowledged it was a thing people did growing up… but it wasn’t until college when I saw Marie [Perivier] play and Emma [Jones] play that I got really into it.

Was that your first exposure to playing ultimate?

Fiona: No… [my parents] would make me play summer league when I was in later high school. And I hated it.

Jami: Which is why I thought she would not play.

Fiona: I didn’t want to come.

Jami: She hated us!

Fiona: We would get into arguments, and they would be like, “You have to come to summer league!” And I’d be like, “Fine!” But then I got really into it in college.

Georgia’s Fiona Cashin (center) with her parents, Grant and Jami.

Jami: Marie and Martha [Wilber] and Emma were really a great find for Fiona. And I will say also [addressing Fiona] that I think what really helped your game was, during the pandemic, it was just two-on-two.

Fiona: Oh yeah, we would play two-on-two hotbox.

Jami: It was Dad and you versus me and Michael. Just every day we would go at it.

Fiona: Not every day.

Jami: We did it a lot.

Fiona: We would play at the beach.

Jami: That was back when I could actually hang with Fiona. Now I can’t hang with her anymore.

At what point did you have the idea for Jami and Grant to coach?

Fiona: I think it just made sense. They’ve played the longest [out of anybody] in Athens. They’ve coached before. She coached tennis for a long time. She’s coached every sport. So it just made sense. We needed a coach, and they were great. They whip us into shape.

Was there any hesitation on your part when you considered getting back into the coaching game?

Jami: No… I mean, it is a *lot* of time.

Fiona: We would get in arguments – more me and my dad. We got in a lot of arguments about strategy and the way we teach and the way we structure practice. But that was more the first year, and now we have it down really well. And that was more just me being a captain the first year, and us both being new. It was a huge leadership shift.

Jami: A little learning curve for all of us.

Fiona: Now we’ve got it down.

Jami: We get to spend sooo much time with Fiona. And we just talk about frisbee all the time. We see each other every day, and it’s really been fantastic. I’m going to miss it next year. I’m going to miss Fiona being around.

That seems like it’s pretty rare for parents and college-age kids.

Jami: Totally. Now she comes and hangs out with us on a Friday night even!

Fiona: Yeah! We’ll have a drink.

Jami: It is rare. I’m so grateful for our relationship and for what this has done for it. It’s been really fun.

What do you think your mom brings to coaching Georgia that nobody else could bring? Other than knowing you.

Fiona: I think that she’s a really good role model for all the players. She’ll cleat up in scrimmage and destroy everyone else. It’s pretty inspiring. She’s fifty…

Jami: Five.

Fiona: She’s 55! And she’s dunking on all the 19- and 20-year olds. She works out all the time, comes to practice, works out more. And it’s something to look up to. And she’s just awesome.

Jami: Aww, Fiona!

What else has helped your coach/player dynamic?

Jami: That we’ve played together on the same field.

Fiona: [Interrupting to brag] Third place Goalty Nationals!

Jami: We play goaltimate together.

Fiona: Like two times a week

Jami: It’s so lucky to not just coach her but to be her fellow player.

Did you play Murmur for a season together, too?

Jami: No, because she played Ozone [in 2022]. But I got to play with her best friends and her boyfriend.

Fiona: And we have really good chemistry. We played Goalty Nationals together this past March, and now we throw to each other really well. We’re always looking for each other.

Are there any parts of your game that come from having watched your mom play?

Fiona: We play really similarly. We both are defensive players. She taught me how to bait a throw. I feel like a lot of my defense comes from her. And she lays out.

Jami: Well, I used to.

Fiona: She used to lay out. You’ll still see it at Beach Worlds.

Jami: But there’s no footage of me playing in the ‘90s, unfortunately.

What do you see in Fiona that reminds you of yourself?

Jami: I just love watching her get up. She gets up, she’s so fast, she cuts so hard, she’s just an all-around player. And – I will say that her throws are developing waaaaayyy faster than mine. It took me thirty years to learn how to throw. Honestly. And she, in one season, has the most awesome lefty I’ve ever seen. I’ll never have a lefty. I’m really impressed with that, and how hard she works out there.

Georgia's Fiona Cashin at the 2023 D-I Women's Ultimate Frisbee College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire - UltiPhotos.com
Georgia’s Fiona Cashin at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

How proud are you when you watch Fiona’s Callahan reel?

Jami: You have no idea how many times we’ve watched that and how many people I’ve sent it to. And I send it to people who’ve never seen frisbee before, and they’re like, “I don’t understand why they keep kicking it.” It’s been really awesome watching her, seeing all the footage that’s come out, getting to send it to my brother, who loves it. We’re all super, super proud.

What is the part of this relationship that you think you’ll take with you in the future?

Fiona: It’s just this relationship. I feel like we were not as close as we are now at the start of it. I think it brought us really close.

Jami: You left the other night, and Dad was like, “Can you believe this relationship that we have? Who has a relationship with their kid like this?” We’re so lucky.

Fiona: It was perfect timing, coming into my junior year, when I was actually mature and able to handle it.

Jami: Yeah, freshman year would have been [makes a crashing noise]. It would have tanked.

Fiona: Yeah, it would have tanked. But it was just the right timing, and it brought us together. And I think we’ll just keep hanging out and playing frisbee.

Jami: Yep. And now we’ll start snowboarding more.

Jami and Fiona Cashin hug while smiling for the camera in the middle of a lush green goalitmate field. Photo: Edward Stephens
Jami and Fiona Cashin. Photo: Edward Stephens

  1. Fiona’s younger brother, Michael, just finished a freshman year playing at D-III school Embry-Riddle. 

  2. I don’t know of any other examples of a mother-daughter coach/player pairing in high level ultimate. 

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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