Becky Greenwood talks us through the West region.
It’s that time of the year again, that we’ve all been waiting for! Women’s Indoor Regionals is just around the corner, and it’s time for the western women to shine and show their talent, teamwork and improvement. There are fourteen teams entering this year, and though some teams have lost players to graduation, all have new fresh talent ready to pounce and surprise. This year is set to be an intense one as every team pushes for a Nationals spot, ready to exceed expectations and have a lot of fun along the way!
Undefeated at Regionals last year, Birmingham believe they didn’t struggle with any of their games, except perhaps Bath in the final. They’ve been hit hard with graduations, and although they’ve kept Grace Owen, four out of eight of their indoor team from last year have graduated and another is on a year abroad. They have a great amount of chemistry so positivity comes easily. They’re hoping to blast some tunes before each game and play Spikeball – it’s a great warm-up apparently … so be on the lookout! Their women’s captain, Ophelia Byrne, said seeing her team play together as a unit rather than a group of individuals would make her proud.
Though they struggled to bring down Birmingham last year (especially with a severely depleted team), this year they have some star players joining them: Shino Yoshen with 17 years of experience from the USA, Amy Van Zyl and Georgia “G-Dawg” Murphy (both GB U24) who will be gracing them with her ever-so-calm and chilly approach on O and fierce D game. Captain Beatrix Perks’ (GB U24) objective is for the team to work together and come out of Regionals as a well-rounded and better-connected team.
This year Mythago have had an amazing uptake, although unfortunately they will be missing many of their team including last year’s Women’s Captain, Hannah Smith. WUWIR was a bit of a rollercoaster for Bristol last year. They managed to scrape into Nationals with an extremely tight match against Exeter, and would love a rematch this weekend. What really made last year special was their team dynamic – they were all so supportive and were always “playing with love”! Captain Jess Ridout’s aim is to be the most spirited team out there.
Exeter loved Women’s Indoor Regionals last year, despite playing nine matches over the weekend with only eight players. This year has been great for recruitment, and their new freshers are looking forward to a rematch against Bristol – both teams never know how it’s going to end! Captain Caz Brand says that it’s hard for her to pick one star player, but they count themselves lucky to have Izzie Cottrell and Lottie Paul back. To prepare for Regionals they’ve been trying to keep their fitness up, with lots of early morning workouts and extra sessions.
Cardiff (No Frills)
Last year, Cardiff got bronze and qualified for Nationals. This year, their team has a couple of new members with previous frisbee experience, as well as Alice Newton returning from her year out. However, they have lost many of last year’s first team players due to graduation. This means their players this year are very new to top level ultimate. Big aims for the teams are communication and not to take themselves too seriously. Captain Hannah Mudd always asks her team what they want to focus on and feels proud when she sees them achieve their goals.
After marginally missing out on going to Nationals last year, Bangor is ready to go with a replenished army of women (enough for two teams)! Luckily, they have the return of some experienced players; Bethany Gunbie, Megan Price and two GB players: Tabi Caröe and Natalie Knight. Bangor has always been one of the more relaxed teams, but Captain Bethany Gunbie and her team are determined to get a spot at Nationals. They have a tight bond and just being in each other’s company gets them pumped for games.
Last year was largely a development year for Skunks, but they’re now ready to take on Bath again, although hopefully with no fifteen minute points this time… They didn’t have many graduate this year, and they have Lissette Victorero joining them again, as well as Katie Allen (GB U24 DP), Ann Lai, and newcomer, Freya Elliot (GB U20)! They’re looking at developing their offensive plays with help from new coach Alex “Scrivs” Scrivener, as most of their first team will be made up of more experienced players. Captain Ciara Bignell is still focussed on development for freshers and experienced players alike, obviously qualifying for Nationals would make her super proud, but if everyone plays well she’ll be a happy bunny!
Last year Swansea held seventh seed and won the majority of their games. Their key players are Rosie Thompson and long-time Captain Immie Wong, however they have lost Louise Sørensen-Bentham to graduation. With their new hype-up song, they are going to stay positive and respectful throughout whether they’re losing badly or have just capped a team.
Plymouth have managed to retain five experienced women, including returner Hannah “A-game” Stanton, buoyed up by seven freshers (up from two last year). Finishing in the top ten last year was an incredible achievement for them, and one they’re hoping to repeat this weekend. They maintain their positivity through always remembering that Ultimate is fun and chanting ‘Picnic play best when we’re smiling!’ from a packed sideline.
In 2016 the Bears went away feeling disappointed with ninth place, however, this year they won’t be feeling the pressure as much. They’re hoping to develop as a squad, learn over the weekend and create their own team identity. They’re blessed with a few new experienced players including Hannah Yorwerth (St Albans, Purple Cobras) and Tasha Smith (Cambridge Strange Blue), who will help make up for the loss of both their GB U24 women (Leia Turner and Ali Thomas), who graduated at the end of last year. Captain Ellen Daly is hoping that both the first and second team will develop across the weekend, match up well against others, leave everything on the pitch and show what they can do!
After not playing Regionals 2016, Coventry are very much looking forward to bringing a team this year. They’ve unfortunately lost several players, including Nicky Ellis due to graduation, which means that they have quite a small squad. As it will be their first women’s team in a few years, they’re going in to have fun without too much pressure on scorelines or wins.
Winchester (Fly Hard)
This year is Fly Hard’s first ever Women’s Regionals! They’re quite a new team with little tournament experience, so they’re not in it to win it at this stage. Instead they are focusing on pouring maximum effort into every game, and putting training into practice and learning from their experience. Key players include Milly Bagshaw, with her amazing throws into the endzone, and Lisa “Golden Hands” Howarth. Watch out for their ‘frisbaes’ chant!
Good luck to all the women at this year’s West University Women’s Indoor Regionals! Here’s to playing what is a fantastic sport with such commendable spirit, determination and fellowship!
Feature photo by Andrew Moss.