World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) has taken a major step towards the further development of the global participation of women in Flying Disc sports with the creation of its first WFDF Women in Sport Commission. The role of the Women in Sport Commission will be to:
- advise the WFDF Board of Directors on the development of policies related to promoting women in sport;
- co-ordinate efforts to increase participation of women in Flying Disc sports;
- develop ideas and initiatives to promote the role of women in Flying Disc sports;
- ensure representation of women within WFDF governance structures;
- deliver advocacy on gender issues in Flying Disc sports; and
- be active in raising awareness about gender equality in their respective domains
"WFDF is pleased to announce the establishment of its Women in Sport Commission on International Women’s Day 2013. We are highly confident that this Commission will greatly contribute to our efforts to increase the global participation of women in Flying Disc sports,” stated WFDF President Robert "Nob" Rauch. “WFDF has always tried to promote gender equality with our women’s and mixed divisions, and we believe we are one of the few international sports federations which has gone so far as to demonstrate this commitment by having our showcase competitive event – the World Games – feature mixed gender teams. We nonetheless feel we can do more, and we are confident that the experience and perspectives of the 11 women representing five continents who will comprise the initial Commission will help us to serve the needs of the Flying Disc community even better.”
The board has approved the initial members of the WFDF Women in Sport Commission as follows:
Kate Bergeron (USA): A member of the WFDF Board of Directors since 2007, Bergeron has served as a member of the Ultimate Players Association (now USA Ultimate) Board of Directors (2001-06) including three years as president (2002-04) and also as a member of the volunteer/staff team which developed the organization’s first five year strategic plan. A member of the 1995 UPA College Women’s semifinalist team from the University of Colorado, Bergeron served as UPA National College Director from 1997 to 2000, and has coached a number of women’s teams at the college Level. An avid trail runner, skier and mountain biker, Bergeron was NCAA Division II champion (1992-93) in cross country skiing. A senior director at Apple, Inc., Bergeron’s team is responsible for the design and engineering of all McIntosh CPU projects.
Apple Chapman (HKG): A former women’s body builder, Chapman has been self-employed as personal fitness trainer since 1997. Chapman started playing Ultimate in 2002 and in 2007 was a member of the Hong Kong national team. Since 2008 she has served as president of Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association and, despite early struggles to develop the sport, successfully cultivated a relationship with the government’s Leisure and Sports Services Department to initiate outreach programs beginning in 2010. In addition, the HK Ultimate National Team received its first ever Sports Aid Grant from the HK Sports Institute in 2011.
Melissa Gangemi (AUS): Introduced to Ultimate in 2000 at the University of Sydney, Gangemi has competed in 12 consecutive Australian Ultimate Championships (winning the women’s division in 2004 and 2005). She is a founding member of Melbourne’s Women’s Ultimate Club which captured the spirit award at AUC in 2009 and women’s division in 2012. She first became involved in sports administration while at Sydney University, serving as treasurer, president and vice president of the University Ultimate Frisbee Association between the years 2001 and 2005. Gangemi served as Chairperson of the 2006 World Ultimate Championships (WUCC) Board, overseeing the organization and hosting of the tournament. As a member of the Australia Flying Disc Association Board, Gangemi served terms as both secretary and president. In 2012, Gangemi served as a selector and manager of Australia’s first women’s masters team to compete at the WUGC, and remains as chair of the AFDA High Performance Appointment Committee. In 2012 she was awarded the AFDA’s highest honor recognizing outstanding contribution to disc sports, the Rob Hancock Award. She is currently employed as Senior Lawyer at the Australian Government Solicitor and practices in the area of administrative law, privacy and freedom of information.
Mariel Huicochea (MEX): A competitor since 2005, Huicochea has participated in a variety of clinics and tournaments at the national, regional/continental and international levels for Mexico. Named the Best Defensive Player at the 2011 Pan American Ultimate Championships in 2011, she organized clinics to introduce Ultimate/SOTG in 2011 and 2012 and served as Ultimate coach for Universidad Iberoamericana in 2010-2011. A member of UNAM’s Board since 2011, she currently serves as president of Communidad Mexicana de Ultimate, A.C, and has recently achieved her MBA in Sport’s Organization Management from UVM Executive/Universidad Europea de Madrid.
Elizabeth Houtrow (KOR): Since 2010 Beth Houtrow has served as vice president of the Korea Ultimate Players Association where she has co-directed Korea’s international tournament and organized Korean Club Nationals. In 2010 she created the first Ultimate university team in Seoul, and continues to serve as coach and instructor to students and organizer of annual hat tournament fundraiser. From 2009-2010 served as Commissioner of the Seoul Fall and Spring Leagues. First introduced to Ultimate in Chicago, Houtrow was a member of the Duke University Women’s Team Chakra from 2002 to 2005, and currently competes as member of Gu-Mi-Ho Korean Club in Seoul. A professor at Soongsil University, she instructs students in English essay writing and introductory economics seminar.
Jarna Kalpala (FIN): Serving as executive director of the Finnish Flying Disc Association since 2011, Jarna Kalpala has played Ultimate since 2005, attending numerous national, regional/continental and international tournaments as a member of the club team Viima and/or the Finnish National team. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Sport Management from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Melanie McCullough (PAN): Melanie McCullough currently serves as president of the Association of Ultimate Frisbee of Panama, a new regular member of WFDF in 2012. Since becoming president, a major goal of the organization has been to involve more women in this sport, primarily by teaching that is Ultimate non-contact sport and that spirit of the game should be followed. After the first women’s team Jumara Femimino was organized in 2011, McCullough has served as one of the key players on the team acting as the strategist captain on plays in the field. Professionally, she is currently the Global Markets Sales Manager for HSBC Bank in Panama.
Marlise Richter(RSA): After leaving the sport of field hockey, Marlise Richter took up Ultimate in 2006 and played her first National Championships in 2007 in Cape Town. She is based at the club Ultitude in Johannesburg, South Africa where she has served on its managing committee for several years and as Chair in 2012. She organized the first ladies tournament in South Africa in 2009, represented South Africa in the mixed division in WUGS 2012 in Japan, and has played numerous tournaments throughout Europe and Africa. She currently serves as secretary to the South African Flying Disc Association (SAFDA). A PhD candidate at International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Marlise Richter also serves as visiting researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society, Wits University, South Africa.
Valeska Schacht (GER): Since becoming a member of the women’s Ultimate team at the University of Florida in 2000, Valeska Schacht has competed as a member of college, mixed and/or women’s teams on three continents. From 2009 to 2012 she served as coordinator and coach of the German Junior Women’s (Under 17 and Under 20) National Teams and from 2009 as chairperson and president of Hanover, Germany’s Frisbeesportsclub Funatics. Since 2011 she has been employed by Bergsportzentrale in Hanover, Germany.
Wendi Tekamp (CAN): Ultimate player, coach administrator and builder Wendi Tekamp is currently in year two of building a competitive women’s program for women players in Atlantic Canada’s provinces. A member of Ultimate Canada’s Competition Committee, she began playing league in Victoria, BC in 1996, achieved a Canadian national victory as a mixed team player, and eventually joined the women’s touring team, Vancouver Prime. With experience as a coach of juniors, university, women’s and mixed teams as well as organizer of leagues and tournaments, Tekamp continues to build teams, select rosters, assign roles and work to develop players. She currently works in the commercial department at defense manufacturer in Halifax, Nova, Scotia.
Adriana Withers (CAN): A founding partner in VC Ultimate, Inc, the world’s oldest and longest standing company specializing in high quality Ultimate performance gear, Adriana Withers has worked tirelessly with players, teams, leagues and governing bodies from around the world to grow and create partnerships in Ultimate since 1998. Adriana has been a long time supporter of women’s Ultimate through her work with Without Limits, and is passionate about making disc sports more Green, having founded the VC Green Program which has designed and implemented recycling initiatives at most championships in North America. Adriana currently manages the sales, event and partnerships teams for VC Ultimate out of their offices in Toronto, Canada.