#TBT: Once a Teammate, Always a Teammate
by Jenny Fey
By the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I was hooked on ultimate, but I could count on my fingers the number of female players under 18 that I knew personally. Two and a half years later, I was a freshman at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA: a small school struggling to get a women’s team together. My sense of the scope and potential of women’s ultimate was limited by the size of my playing community, and the lack of media available for the sport at the time.
I don’t remember how I heard about the Junior Worlds’ teams, but I applied, tried out, and got the unbelievable opportunity to play in Finland in August 2004 with close to twenty female athletes around my age. It was the first time I realized that there were a lot of other young women out there like me: in a committed relationship with this obscure sport. It was just two weeks, but it shaped the trajectory of the next decade of my life like no other previous experience had. It didn’t hurt that my teammates were incredible people as well, or that they frequently made me laugh until I cried. By the end of the trip, I found myself envisioning a future where these same young women and I would spend our club seasons together battling all comers on the field in Sarasota.
Of course, it was back to reality pretty quickly. We spread back out across the country. We chose different colleges for logical reasons. We made new friends. We stayed in touch, and then less so as the years passed – understandably. Still, in my heart, it was: once a teammate, always a teammate (same goes to Scandal!) And I felt that way every time I saw my u20 girls at tournaments over the years – brief but joyous reunions on the sidelines. Jokes about moving to each other’s cities. Sighs. I eventually came to terms with the idea that I might never really play with any of them again.
As you might expect, I am beyond grateful to be playing for the U.S. of A. this summer in London – grateful to be selected, and grateful to be able to represent my club teammates on Scandal, my city of DC, the youth program in Arlington that formed me which has grown magnificently, the insanely talented group of club players that challenged me at tryouts, and a country of incredible ultimate players and supporters. I’m also grateful to be given the opportunity to play with a few old teammates again: Rohre Titcomb, Leila Tunnell, and Georgia Bosscher. All three were in Finland with me in 2004, and all three made me a better person and player in the two short weeks I spent with them.
It’s twelve years later, and I have a new set of teammates to connect with inside of a finite timeline: three spring training weekends together and a week of games in London. It’s intimidating, but the familiar faces help. Of course, the Team USA women are inspiring players in every sense of the word, and everyone has been extremely welcoming. We only have around a week now to prepare, to try and bring home the gold, and I know it will all be over in flash. We’ll disperse to our separate lives and teams, working for independent goals. Still – once a teammate, always a teammate: not a bad deal.