A New Type of Team


Photo: Eliza Barton

Senior Josh Amador throws a frisbee to his teammate during winter ultimate. “In my experience, mixed ultimate has had by far the most inclusive and kindest people I’ve ever played with across any sport,” Amador said.

The mixed ultimate team, one of University Prep’s coed teams, starts up in the next few weeks. This has sparked conversation about gender division in sports. As much of the world moves away from the binary gender spectrum, many sports are being left behind in their old ways.
Most sports have separate teams for male-identifying and female-identifying athletes, making it hard for gender non-binary or trans people to know where they fit in. Ninth grader Sofia Delgado-Pack has trans friends who don’t go out for sports for different reasons.
“They either don’t want to play sports because they just don’t want to or because they would definitely still be put on the girl’s team,” Delgado-Pack said.
Athletic Director Rebecca Moe disputes the idea that they would be put on the girls’ team.
“If someone said to me, ‘Hey, I identify as this and I want to play this sport,’ then we go through steps and put them on the team that matches their identity,” Moe said.
Moe understands the issues in the format of sports but thinks UPrep takes an acceptable approach.
“It’s unfortunate that sports continue to be very binary,” Moe said. “But, as it stands right now,
Washington’s got one of the most successful laws. I mean, there are many states where there are really significant laws about gender identity.”
The school follows the rules from the “Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Gender Diverse Youth Sport Inclusivity Toolkit” that provides the state rules about gender in school sports. Every school sport besides ultimate is required to follow these guidelines.
Even without these required guidelines, ultimate is one of the most gender-inclusive sports. One step they have taken towards inclusivity is changing the names of the leagues. What was once called “girls frisbee” is now “GX frisbee,” the “GX” including female-identifying and non-binary athletes. Similarly, what was once the “boys’ division” is now called “open division,” including both male-identifying and non-binary athletes.
Moe believes that this non-traditional format has a lot to do with the location where the sport is popular.
“I think Disc Northwest has always been more progressive than a lot of sports, but I think a lot of it’s because ultimate is based in the Seattle area,” Moe said.
Another thing unique to UPrep ultimate is the mixed league, a coed team that plays every winter. Many people wish other sports, such as volleyball, could have this option as well.
“I know that some boys would be excited and possibly want to do a boys or coed volleyball team,” Delgado-Pack said.
However, Delgado-Pack also recognizes a potential issue with coed teams.
“I think coed sports sounds a lot like PE class, and I know that in PE it was more about who you’re friends with that you toss the ball to or throw the frisbee to versus anything else,” Delgado-Pack said. “I think we’d still see the different vibe between male and female students and friend groups.”

WIAA Guidelines About Gender in Sports (Graphic: Eliza Barton)