The Humboldt State women’s ultimate frisbee club team is back on campus after nearly a three-semester hiatus.
The team has been practicing three times a week to prepare for their upcoming home tournament, HUCK, on September 25th and 26th with Sonoma State’s women’s ultimate team at the Arcata Community Center softball field.
The Humboldt State Hags 2020 season got cut following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, the spring semester is the competitive season for the team while the fall semester is recreational. However, the USA Ultimate Association decided to extend the team’s competitive season to fall this year to make up for their lost spring season of 2020.
Emily “Eddie” Dryer is a senior environmental studies major who has been a part of the Hags since her freshman year, after an injury prevented her from continuing her collegiate softball career. Dyer was also the team captain and vice-president of the Hags before the pandemic.
“It really affected us,“ Dryer said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was really challenging ’cause we were trying to get everyone on Zoom and keep everyone involved but it was just so hard to keep everyone motivated, I’m really happy and really excited about our numbers this year.”
According to team president Helinna Leone, the Hags had a higher turnout of recruits this year than past seasons, which led to more opportunities to compete and go out into the local community. The team is all walk-ons and recruits anyone from any experience level. In past years the Hags have participated in local invasive plant pulls and trash pickups throughout Humboldt county to stay active in the community, where they work side-by-side with Hags alumni.
Leone, a third-year kinesiology and dance studies major, has big plans for the Hags this year after being appointed as team president. Leone has been playing with the Hags since her first year at HSU. She is planning for an alumni game as well as incorporating injury prevention into the team’s practices and tournaments to build a healthy team foundation.
“Definitely right now the emphasis is still on rebuilding and remembering that we are working to go to regionals or maybe even nationals as a solid team of burly, burly Hags,” Leone said.
The Hags are a close-knit family, evident from just a few seconds of watching them scrimmage together in the stands. The team consists of members with years of ultimate experience and others who are brand-new to the game.
Ella Feick is a third-year environmental science and management student who joined the Hags for the first time this semester. Feick enjoys the team aspect of Hags as well as the opportunity to meet other people she would have never met before joining the team.
“It is nice to be seeing people I would have never known before without doing this and now I see them around Arcata,” Feick said. “It is really cool to have these connections outside of the game but also a time where I get to see everybody every week.”
Team members said they rely on each other for advice, school work accountability, confidence-building, and getting their numbers up for the future seasons. Many Hags members consider joining Hags as a foundational block to enjoying their student experience here at Humboldt State.
“I came to college having spent all of my extracurricular time on dance and so at this new start I was sort of moving away from that life and the rocky relationship I had with my body and the dance community as a whole, frisbee helped me step away from that and find power in myself again,” Leone said. “The camaraderie built from late-night practices, long tournament weekends, and just juggling life together is unparalleled.”
Samantha Castro is a senior returning to the Hags for her third season and said joining the team allowed her to find a community on campus after feeling somewhat lost her first year at HSU.
“We’re like a family out there on the field,” Castro said. “Since day one it’s all been about the girls and how close and tight-knit we are, I really enjoy that aspect.”
The Hags will be hosting the first tournament of the fall club season this weekend and are hoping to use it as a warmup for new players before their sectionals in October. The team is always looking for more burly Hags to join the group, no matter the experience level.