I didn’t think the hardest part of captaining the two-time national champion women’s ultimate team would be acquiring field space.
For Torque, which is a club sport, communication with the Recreation Center has been a long-term problem. Last year it was a drawn-out quagmire to even lock in field space for our two weekly practices totaling four hours. The Rec kept taking away our time in order to hold empty space in case an intramural game needed to be rescheduled. We tried to compromise. We suggested that if no IM game was scheduled, we could use the space with the understanding that we might have to move. The Rec did not respond to this suggestion. At one point, we only had two hours of official field space a week. Even then, we once showed up to our reserved time only to find a men’s IM soccer game being played on the field. Not only had the Rec unceremoniously taken away our remaining time, it managed to contact the 20-odd IM soccer players, their various fans and the three referees without notifying us.
I don’t want to ignite a war between club and IM sports. I myself am a devoted participant in IM sports. I therefore know that the organization problems affect the IM program as well. Multiple times this year, I have shown up to a soccer game that never occurred since the fields were double-booked.
Time and time again, women’s club ultimate has struggled to effectively communicate with the Rec. We have sent emails, made phone calls and even gone to the offices. We have been polite and respectful, but often our emails are not responded to and our phone calls are ignored. This semester, we initially were given unusable practice times (e.g. practicing after sunset on a field without lights or practicing with lights but at midnight). We did manage to make an arrangement with the men’s ultimate team in which we agreed to share Field 2/3.
We also have struggled with small-scale issues. For the past few weeks, when we have arrived on Field 2/3 at our reserved time, the lights have been off. My co-captain has called the Rec and requested lights, which entails a member of the Rec staff to drive or walk out to a box behind the Rec and flip a switch. For 15 minutes, the lights remained off. We warmed up in the dark. She called again and was told that they had no idea what she was talking about. Then they told her to go to Field 7 and ask someone there. Another time they questioned whether we were even Rice students and made my co-captain go into the Rec to show her ID. We wondered what would happen if we asked one of the male ultimate players to make the call. It was a joke, but we agreed that we didn’t want to find out the answer.
A huge communication problem exists among IM sports and club sports. A friend recently told me the Rec is trying to address the issue of low female involvement in IM sports. It is with true love and concern for female sports that I offer this advice to the Rec: If you want to heighten female involvement, start by responding to our calls. Start by turning on the lights so we can practice. We’ll do the rest.