By Russell Hendley, COM 250 Reporter

Edited by Kendall Scott, COM 303 Editor

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Berry College students set the stage for the college’s first women’s ultimate team during the 2019 fall semester, and the team continued to grow in the spring semester.

At the beginning of the 2020 school year, the women’s ultimate team became a sanctioned club. They were financed by the men’s ultimate team and received a scholarship from Ultimate USA, the national governing body for the flying disc sport.

Co-captains Malia Busenitz and Kendall Holan formed the club out of their desires to compete competitively in ultimate. Both girls played sports in high school but were not competing in any Berry College athletics. Inspired by the hole present in Berry College’s clubs, they took it upon themselves to create the team.

Holan said creating an ultimate team would not have been possible without help from her friend Busenitz.

Women's frisbee featured image
The women’s ultimate team, featuring co-captains Kendell Holan (#6) and Malia Busenitz (#4), and assistant coach Walter Ellard (far right)
Photographer: Hisayo Carroll

“I planned on starting a women’s team since the end of last year, but knew that I wouldn’t have the time to do it on my own,” Holan said. “Malia and I were able to fill in for each other and split tasks when one of us had a really busy week.”

Student Activities Director Cecily Crowe said Berry has had an ultimate team for many years, but that only men played on the team competitively. In recent years, the sport became more popular and started attracting women as well.

“There have been some females that have been involved over the years, but especially last year there seemed to be this growing interest in females to be a part of ultimate Frisbee and possibly form their own team,” Crowe said. “Going into this year, this past fall, we noticed a flier hanging up in Krannert advertising a women’s ultimate team, which took us a little by surprise.”

Crowe said that Busenitz and Holan created the team without going through the club creation process. She and Lydia Gordon, Assistant Director of Student Activities, connected with Holan to initiate the process. The women’s ultimate team was created shortly afterward and placed under the same umbrella as the men’s ultimate team. However, Crowe shows interest in separating the two teams if the women’s team continues to expand.

Women’s ultimate athlete Joi Buckley said that she enjoyed being on the women’s team for all the friendships and memories she has already created as a freshman. She particularly enjoyed connecting with others outside her major and spending time with people who enjoy the sport as much as she does.

Buckley and her teammates specifically enjoyed their first tournament because it boosted the girls’ motivation and drive to improve their skills, as well as the club in general.

Additionally, Buckley said the tournament brought the girls closer as a team, which she especially valued.

Holan also shares these sentiments with the team’s first tournament. She felt amazed seeing everyone’s efforts pay off and said it was the best part of the team’s year.

Walter Ellard, captain of the men’s ultimate team, helps coach the women’s team and was especially impressed by their win at the tournament. He said that they managed a comeback win, despite poor weather conditions and six injured players.

Ellard said that he looks forward to seeing the team’s competitive potential next season.

“Although this season was cut short due to COVID-19,” Ellard said, “as a team, we have our eyes set on being competitive at regionals next year and making sure the women’s class of ‘24 is getting out and playing some ultimate.”

Both co-captains said they are doing all that they can to promote growth within the club in order to increase the size of the community and make the team more competitive.

“We definitely want to keep growing,” Busenitz said. “It’s not a closed club. We’re open to more people joining.”

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