Interview with Kate Stafford and Kathleen Beekmann (Captains of UWON 2018 Winners Edinburgh)

Interviewer/Editor: Harry Mason
Edinburgh Women show off their gold medals.
Photo by Ben Preston

So, introduce yourselves! Who are you, and how long have you been with Edinburgh?

Kate: I'm Kate, co-captain with Kathleen! In my fourth year with the team, and second year as captain.

Kathleen: I'm Kathleen, co-captain with Kate! I am also in my 4th year with the team.

Firstly, how does it feel to be National Outdoor Champions?

Kate: Absolutely amazing! I think Kathleen and I have both had our sights set on this win since the start of this year, so to actually accomplish that goal is just such a good feeling.

Kathleen: From the start of the season, the goal has always been to take the National Outdoor title. There is a great sense of accomplishment in finally seeing everything come together.

Kate: ^Kathleen and I are often right on the same page 😀

Secondly, how does it feel to be double champions? To claim this, after taking the Indoor Women's title too?

Kathleen: I think taking the Women's Indoor National title really gave us a boost of confidence. I feel like coming out of that win we started to believe that we had a shot at taking the outdoor title as well.

Kate: I feel really proud to have shown our strength both Indoors and Outdoors. I think that they're fairly different games, so to show that we have the versatility to do both was great.

So, what changed this year then? How did Edinburgh move from Bronze at last UWON to Gold this time?

Kathleen: A big part of the team stayed from last season, but this year had a year more experience. I think a lot of the younger girls really made a big jump this year in their playing level.

Kate: We also had our full team this year, whereas last year we were missing a few to exams.

Do you think you could have claimed Gold last year with a full team?

Kate: I'm gonna leave this one to Kathleen, because I was actually one of the missing players last year!

Kathleen: I think having our full squad last year would have really helped us out. We came out of an intense game in the quarter final against Durham and the team wasn't mentally prepared for the semi final. I think having those few key players would have brought the team's energy up and really contributed in what was a tough game.

Speaking of mentally prepared, did you alter anything this time around? This could be in terms of training, in terms of warming up, etc.

Kathleen: One for the things we have been working on this season and emphasizing to the team has been focus, both on defence and offence.

Kate: Throughout the whole season as well we've been really keen on just being as supportive of each other as possible. On a windy weekend it's easy for there to be a lot of execution errors and drops, so our policy was to just forget individual mistakes as soon as they happened.

Do you think that approach helped you win spirit for the division too? Or was there something else behind the high spirit scores?

Kate: I think that it's pleasant for teams to play against other teams that have a positive attitude with each other. At the weekend I think we took time to really talk about calls with teams as well which leaves both sides feeling heard.

What did you think of the initial within-region seeding games, after the cancellation of Regionals?

Kathleen: In a difficult situation it was a fine solution. We played St. Andrews and then Strathclyde in a "regional" final. The game against Strathclyde was very close and intense. We were able to secure the win, but realized that we would likely meet them again in the quarter final, meaning that one of the two teams would not be in the top 4. It is a real shame since we did play them in the Indoor final and I think both teams deserved to be in the top 4. I don't think this would have happened had we been able to play a full tournament, so this is the only shame about this format.

Which were your favourite games of the weekend?

Kathleen: My favourite game of the weekend was the quarter final against Strathclyde. I feel like at that point everything was coming together and the entire team worked hard to take the win in an intense, but very well spirited game.

Kate: For me, our regional game against Strathclyde and the final. When we first played Strath it was just such a close game, and our team hadn't quite come together completely yet, so I think we just really gritted it out on defense (which I loove). The final because it was the final! I was just so excited to play that game, and UCL is a really talented team. Working against their zone was such a fun challenge!

Who are some key players (or what are some key moments) you'd like to give shout-outs too?

Kate: Lulu Boyd for sure. Her experience was definitely invaluable. Also a huge shout-out to the line that scored our second upwind break against UCL. That was a massive grind, and I'm just so grateful to those players for keeping calm all the way through! Part of what is so great about our team is the depth throughout though. I equally want to shout-out to the women that were on the disc most of the time, and those that saw less of the disc but put in the work on defense and made the right decisions when it was their time.

Kathleen: I'd also like to give a shout-out to the entire team for supporting each other from the sideline. There was always someone talking to each player on the pitch and that makes a massive difference especially on defence.

What sort of club/country connections do you have as a University side?

Kate: Myself, Helena Slater, Bella Tait and Lulu Boyd all play Black Eagles together. Lulu has played for Ireland and Helena was also on GB U24s this year. Many of our other women play for Sneeeky's and Swift as well!

Do you have any sort of coach? And how much women-only training do you tend to do?

Kathleen: Kate and I coached the team. We tend to train as an entire club, but after "Mixed Outdoor Nationals" we started split gender trainings. However, in the lead up to Women's Outdoor Nationals we didn't actually manage that many trainings because we train in a park in Edinburgh and the ground cycled between being frozen, covered in snow and water logged.

What would be your opinion on a Women's BUCS league?

Kate: Do it!! We think that Ultimate would be better played in a tournament format, but since there's is a Men's BUCS league, it is super important to get a women's league going as well. There might be some growing pains for teams getting numbers in the start, but overall it is important for equity in Ultimate (even simply in terms of BUCS points).

Kathleen: I reckon that pretty much every university would be able to field a team. While it might not be ideal, to play one game you only need 7 players.

How do you think Edinburgh will do next year?

Kathleen: We will be graduating a lot of our starting line this year, however our to be 4th years have really improved in leaps and bounds this year and I think they are ready to take on a bigger role. I expect the team to remain strong in the Scottish region.

Kate: Hard to say anything for certain with uni Ultimate changing so much year to year! I definitely have lots of faith in Hannah Schrempf and Nelly Henzler, next year's captains, to provide strong leadership for the team.

Any advice for any incoming captains for next year? 

Kate: Be ready to work hard for your team, and they'll work hard for you in return!

Kathleen: Be confident in yourself, believe in your team and ideally have a wonderful co-captain to take on the role with!

Kate: Agreed 😀

Any final thoughts/comments/questions you think I missed?

Kate: One last shout-out to Strath, they really, really deserved to be in the top 4. And congrats to all the women that played at the weekend, I can't wait to see women's Ultimate continue to grow and improve in the UK!

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