Sam Wool

 SUMMARY OF PHONE CALL – couldn’t record interview

Q: What sports have you done, how did you get into them, and how long have you done them?
A: Sam was really into sports as a kid – she wanted to be a professional baseball player! Unfortunately she realized she couldn’t do that. In middle school she joined soccer. Considers herself a late bloomer in terms of athletics. Sam also did theater throughout childhood. As for sports, she made it a goal to be a four-year Varsity athlete! Played soccer all four years. In freshman year, Sam was bribed by her friends Tara and Izzy with cupcakes to join the frisbee team, and she did. They only had 6 people on the team so technically every game was a forfeit, but they still played all the Varsity teams in the league. That was when she discovered she loved frisbee!

In junior year, Sam started basketball. Her sophomore year she talked to Floyd (the girls’ head basketball coach at the time), and Floyd gave her a letter in advance. She said he gave it to get for proving herself in athletics. Sam saw basketball as a good way to get better at frisbee.

In her freshman year, Kate Kingery (the head ultimate coach) told Sam to try out for YCC and Fryz, even just for the heck of it! Sophomore year, Robbie Farwell convinced her to play coed ultimate frisbee. Sam believes YCC was such a great opportunity especially because it brings you into a whole new community of ultimate players, and you really get to know people thatyou may even play against during the regular season or at tournaments. Ultimately during high school, frisbee gave same a boost of confidence, in part due to Bush’s no-cut policy, but also a good sense of competition and community between schools. Junior year, she says, especially gave her lots of confidence. She doesn’t think she would have had that sort of experience if she’d gone to public school – having fewer expectations helped her grow both as an athlete and as a person. As well, if she had gone to a public school she probably would have just joined the theater program and not done any sports – there’s not typically a huge intersection between theater and sports. But, she says, she believes that her class (2016) was the last class to really experience that divide between sports and theater. She was caught in that transition of being more accepting of one another.

Senior year, Sam tried out for Team USA U20 ultimate. She tried out because she really felt like she had a chance, even if slim. She believed that, if anything, she knew a lot of people and wanted to see how far she could get.

Q: What are you doing in college?
A: Sam plays on her D1 women’s frisbee team at UCSD! She applied to colleges with the intent of playing D1 frisbee. It factored into her decision a little bit. As well, it’s rare in frisbee to go into college with a lot of experience, so that gave her a step up. Sometimes it can be hard at a big college to find a community but frisbee really made that easier.

Her frisbee team practices year-round, but the height of the season is in the winter. This past year she has participated in four winter tournaments. They compete within their region, which is basically just California. The team travels about every two weeks for games and tournaments.

Q: What are some obstacles you’ve faced?
A: Some of the obstacles she faced dealt with mental struggles. Sam didn’t think she was athletic, so she didn’t start with much confidence. Especially playing with older people, plus the divide between theater and sports, it felt like she had to choose and she had to deal with playing a new sport. In coed, the main obstacle was gaining respect from everyone else. In girls, everyone knows who the star players are, especially in frisbee. While that was scary, Kate helped her get over that as well as the fact that she didn’t have a choice in playing against those top girls. In coed, Sam and Emma Gautier stepped up to lead the team. Yet they didn’t have the respect of the guys on the team. The guys on the team would never listen to Sam – she would tell them things like what plays to do and try to teach them specific things, but since they wouldn’t listen, they would lose. It took until the end of the season to change that. Mentally, it was a struggle for her because she knew she couldn’t change them and she just had to wait for them to understand. Once you get in a big role like that, it’s like, “How do you command boys who think they’re better than you?” Sam really had to step out of her comfort zone to manage and coach them, which is super hard when you’re the same age as everyone else that you have to manage. But what gave her confidence was that the role she gained was given to her by the previous year’s captains – they believed in her.

In college, her confidence dropped. It’s super daunting trying to fit into a team that’s already established, and it being freshman year, you’re already super focused on getting on a team. But also in college, you realize everyone’s there because they’re all actually interested.

Sam thinks Bush is generally pretty good at that but it’s hard for frisbee because it wasn’t really supported by the school. For coed in particular, people aren’t as committed and it’s super hard to get everyone committed and having fun.


Q: What are some obstacles you’ve face (or are facing) as a woman in athletics? Did you ever feel like boys teams were prioritized over your teams?
A: Haha definitely yes to that question. There wasn’t any change until after I graduated apparently (…?) when we weren’t given jerseys for our team but instead used the men’s jerseys from fall. I ended up wearing the same jersey as this guy significantly bigger than me so the jersey was huge on me. [for Bush]

Q: What is it about each sport that kept you playing for so long? What do you love about your sports?
A: Soccer was the first sport I played and I wanted to prove to myself that I could play a varsity sport all throughout high school. I was also awful at soccer so I wouldn’t to see how far I could improve. (Joined freshman year)

Basketball was more of a whim from Floyd who is an amazing coach and I wanted to challenge myself. It’s a great preseason for Frisbee and I wanted to do something spontaneous (also seeking to improve). (Joined junior year)

Frisbee was honestly a sport I just fell in love with. It’s that kind of sport where people who aren’t stereotypically considered athletic can join and be really good at it. It’s so nice to watch other people’s success in this sport and see how supportive everyone is with spirit of the game.

Q: What are your athletic goals for the future?
A: In the future I plan to play frisbee club (pro if they ever have that) and hope to tryout again for Team USA if I ever get the chance.

Q: I’m presenting my project to young girls and boys next week both to educate about what it’s like growing up female in athletics, and empower them and get them excited about being an athlete! Is there anything you’d like to tell them?
A: Find something you love to do whatever sport (or not) that is and have fun with it. I think people are the most successful when they’re having fun with it. that being said, sometimes you have to fight for it, especially as a woman but it’s better to fight for it than stop doing what you love.