This week we chat with one of the founders of the women's division, and ultimate legend, Suzanne "Suz" Fields. Co-hosted by Tulsa Douglas and Luisa Neves.
This episode, Share the Air talks with Suzanne Fields. She tells about her beginnings in ultimate, including her helping to begin the women's division. She reflects on how far the women's game has come, and also on how much further the sport has to go on its path of gender equity. Suz also talks about her ongoing work with the Ultimate Hall of Fame. She talks about how the organization is working to be more inclusive, as well as its many other projects, goals, and hopes going forward.
We are taking a week off, so you'll hear us again on July 4th! If you want to listen before then, check out our bonus episodes on our Patreon page!
Also, this week, Share the Air is excited to announce that we have a new sponsor, the Centre for Applied Neuroscience! Enjoy our teaching moments in this episode, and in each new episode for the rest of the season, and if you're interested, check out their website. If you try any of their services, let them know that you found out about them from the Share the Air podcast!
Share the Air is hosted by Tulsa Douglas and Luisa Neves. It is planned, edited, and produced by Tulsa Douglas, Luisa Neves, and Tim Bobrowski. Share the Air's music is by Grey Devlin and Christopher Hernandez. Share the Air is sponsored by the National Ultimate Training Camp, VC Ultimate, and the Centre for Applied Neuroscience.
Tulsa: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Share the Air. It's pretty wild, but we're actually at our halfway point of this first season on episode five. And, originally we planned to have only eight episodes, and then we kept having more people we wanted to talk to. So now we're at, we'll be up to 10 and five is our halfway point.
Luisa: Because we're reaching this halfway point, we're gonna let you all know that we're going to be taking next week off as a little vacation. But our next episode will be released on July 4th.
Tulsa: If you want to hear from us on our week off, you should check out our Patreon page, patreon.com/sharetheair. There you can hear bonus episodes. We will have a bonus episode coming out this week and that will be the only episode that comes out next week. So check us out there and our first bonus episode is already live and it's full of awesome conversations that we had with Dom and Amel that we couldn't fit into the original episodes, but we think are fun and funny, and we want you to hear.
Luisa: Before those bonus episodes though, we have a conversation coming up right now with Suzanne Fields. So enjoy
Our guest today is Suzanne "Suz" Fields. Suzanne started playing ultimate in grad school at UMass Amherst, and then continued to play ultimate in Boston with a number of teams, including Aerodisc, BLU, The Spinsters and Smithereens. Suzanne was central to the creation of the women's division and her team BLU won the first women's national championship in 1981. Suzanne served as the women's national director for many years, growing the women's division to 80 teams. As a player, Suzanne has won two world championships. She organized the first U.S. Women's national team, called Melting Pot, to compete the first WUGC in 1983, where they won gold. Suzanne's second world title came in 1990 with the U.S. Mixed Masters national team. Suzanne was inducted into the ultimate Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 2004, and she currently serves as the Hall of Fame chairperson and administrator. Today, she lives and plays ultimate in Hawaii, where she volunteers with Maui County's "Healthy Eating, Active Living" public health initiative, and the Maui Nui Food Alliance. Suzanne, welcome to the show.
Suzanne Fields: Thanks.
Tulsa: So, a first question I had for you is that Tiina called you "Suz"? I'm guessing it's shortened for Suzanne, but how did that come about?
Suzanne Fields: Just running around on the field and not wanting to expel more than one syllable. It started ages ago and, it's kind of stayed with me forever. It's become my, my ultimate name, but then some people translate it as "Sue's". A friend here on Maui who loves beer, calls me "Sudz", S U D Z, just to give me a hard time, especially since I don't drink beer. So it's mostly "Suz."
Tulsa: So we'd love to just jump into when you started playing ultimate and what that was like.
Suzanne Fields: When I first started playing ultimate I had played a lot of competitive sports starting at a young age through high school and actually went off to college thinking I was going to be a phys ed major, tried out for the volleyball team and got smashed to the ground and switched my focus to community health education, which led me to go to UMass Amherst to get my Master's in Public Health. And while I was walking across campus in 1977 , I saw a bunch of folks, men and women, mixed playing ultimate. Two gentlemen Dan Habib and Darrel Elliott were kind of the ringleaders of the folks that were playing. And it was very welcoming, very open. Anybody who walked by they were like come play. And so I started playing and, you know, was a little lost on the field to begin with, but I had played field hockey and, you know, other fields sports. So it kind of came relatively easily. And of course the throwing skills weren't there right away. So I probably ran around like an idiot to start with, but figured it out. Dan and Daryl were super supportive and great teachers and the environment in which I first played, we did not keep score at the end of the game. We did an energy circle complete with silence and looking around the circle and squeezing of hands and then rating the game on one to a hundred on how much fun we had. It was kind of antithetical to my competitive nature, but I went with the flow.
Tulsa: You started playing in 1977 and then you organize the women's division and then won the first national championship in 1981. So, I mean, that's, that's a short four years to go from just starting in the sport to winning a national championship and organizing it. So I'm wondering if you can talk about what those four years were like, both in terms of you developing as a player and you organizing and creating the women's division.
Suzanne Fields: When I left UMass Amherst and took a job with the department of public health, in downtown Boston, that was like the end of the summer of 77. So I thought ultimate was behind me. I really, you know, there was no internet then, so I couldn't really Google where to play. So, there happened to be a blizzard in February of 1978. And I lived in an apartment in a brownstone-like building on Commonwealth avenue and a couple of days after the blizzard, when everything in Boston was shut down, really the only thing that was open were liquor stores and maybe a bar or two, and Comm Ave was completely snowed over. Turns out my neighbors across the hall, who I had never met were out in the middle of Comm Ave, throwing a disc. And I was like, oh my God. So I like immediately ran outside and I'm like, do you know where people play ultimate? And they're like, yeah, just show up at the Case Center, at Boston university on Sundays. And that's where people play. So, you know, talk about like, word on the street. So I showed up the next available Sunday and met, what turned out to be some lifelong friends. A gentleman named Buzz Loughlin, who was the person who started Boston Aerodisc, a guy named Keith Armstrong, Toby Lou. We've been incredible friends forever. His daughter, Kira Lou, is a part of Nightlock, and a guy named Lafe Larson. And I know I'm forgetting a bunch of other names, but this crew of guys were like immediately my best friends and they were incredibly welcoming and really taught me how to throw and catch. Buzz Loughlin was also a State o f Massachusetts employee. So he worked downtown Boston also, and pretty much every day we would meet on the Boston Common and throw a disc. I mean, you know, whatever the weather was, we were out there pretty much every day at lunch.
Tulsa: Well, I mean, I'm grateful for those neighbors that were throwing a disc that day in that random winter storm, because the, you know, the women's division is where it is today. A lot because of you.
Suzanne Fields: Well. There were definitely so many other voices at the time. Tiina was one of those voices. Louie Mahony cone was one of those voices as were, the women who raised their hand to be the regional coordinators when we needed those regional coordinators to step up. And of course I forget names, but, Dallas Davidson I think was one of them from. UVA. Michelle and the west coast. And then certainly the women of dark star were renowned within the ultimate world. So yeah, there was definitely, a chorus of voices and I think, I was probably, more willing to just step forward and be the voice, more so than maybe some others. So.
Tulsa: How did you know those women? Did you play against them? Like I know when you played for air desk, you're maybe the only woman on your team. So was it like finding the other women on the open/ mostly men teams?
Suzanne Fields: Yeah. So, when I went to nationals, I think it was in 1980. Let's see. I think Kelly Green was playing on MSU. Jane Lowell was playing for Carnegie Mellon, Jane Lowell Evans, her husband, Bob Evans, rest in peace, is a Hall of Fame member. And then I believe, actually I'll go back a little bit more. I would represent Boston Aerodisc at the East Coast captains meeting back then. That's how we set the season where people actually showed up, in person to an auditorium. And somebody would say, I'm going to host a tournament this weekend and the teams would say, we want to go. And so, you know, I would show up and there weren't too many women there, but I started meeting folks and encouraged people to get women to play. And then there was one Easterns I guess it was the Easterns of 1980. Where I think it was at Bucknell. And, the Bucknell women, I believe, there was enough women at Bucknell to have a team and women from Boston showed up as did women from Cornell. So the Cornell women and the Boston women came together so we have enough people to play. So we called ourselves "Bossnell" and we played Bucknell. And I think that was one of the first times women's teams played at Easterns. Then there was of course, April Fools, and April Fools was a pretty big deal. And so, women would show up there and our, there was, I think it was also the spring of 1980, Louie, Tiina, a whole bunch of women were there and that's where there was a lot more attention on having a women's division. And if I'm remembering the years correctly, I think somebody had gotten somebody from, Ms. Magazine to show up. And there was actually, a single column article in a later issue of Ms. Magazine that talked about starting a women's division and ultimate. And, because again, I was the person that was willing to talk, I was the person who was interviewed cause there's Louie like pushing me forward Tiina, Tiina doing the same thing and I'm well, okay, I'll talk.
So between Easterns and April fools, it was a very rich time in the spring of 1980. And again, in the spring of 1981, because it was in the spring of 1981, where there really was a growth in the number of teams that went from hardly any to at least enough to have a full women's division at Easterns. And it was launching from like April Fools, Easterns timeframe that we had the connections with each other to organize, our regions. And, part of the impetus for like basically saying this is happening was, that summer at UC Irvine as a part of the Rose Bowl, which is the event that individual disc competitors get invited to, to compete. And, there's the famous Jim Herrick story that, kind of describes how it was Tom Kennedy, TK, myself, Michelle and Louie in the pool. And that was where the women's division was born. Cause we basically told TK that we would organize the regions, at the time, there were five, there would be a, regional coordinator to parallel the open side to have a regional coordinator and that we needed TK to tell the, the men's regional coordinators to make sure there were fields for the women's division to compete at each regionals.
And, and basically in a matter of weeks and months using snail mail and phone trees, you know, and I still have the letter I wrote to TK about who are the regional coordinators and this is going to happen. So make sure you have room for us at nationals. So, yeah, it was I'm, I'm pro I'm kind of a directive person, but I try to be collaborative, but sometimes you just have to say this is going to happen to make it happen. And so I think that's what happened.
Tulsa: Was there any pushback from people when you said, Hey, we want to start this division and we were going to do all of this work.
Suzanne Fields: There wasn't. We did our homework. You know, we identified people in the regions. It was kind of the domino effect. You know, the person in the region, like any good regional coordinator identified the teams in their regions. They created their relationships and established their networks and they made sure that what needed to happen in their region to make regionals happen happen. So it really was a team effort across the board and we got very little pushback. I mean, there were situations where we got, I got pretty, you know, well known that we would get the crappier fields, you know, or fields that were farther away. And were there any bathrooms or water nearby? Absolutely not. But would you call that right of passage? I don't know, but yeah. So from that standpoint point, there might've been some subconscious pushback, but I think, outwardly there was great support for what we were doing.
Tulsa: Yeah, that's interesting. That sounds like a trend, like, I don't know, maybe just the piece of like, not the outward pushback, but the kind of subtle biases there. Yeah.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah. I think that probably carries over to our present day for all sorts of issues.
Suzanne Fields: Yep. But it worked and we were like, so stoked that it actually happened, but you know, it was really funny. I remember it was a kind of a foggy ish day and when I think about it, it felt like kind of a dreamlike scenario. There didn't seem to be very many people on the sidelines and we were kind of off in a way. And I don't remember there being anybody watching, but thankfully Karl Cook has recently been posting a lot more photos and there actually were people on the sideline and it has been good to see that there were more than like two or three people. But it was super cool. And, and the, to be able to see some of what Karl has been posting lately, um, because he was there taking pictures of that first game and it's nice that it was captured.
It was super cool. Yeah. And he actually captured, Rhonda Williams catching the winning goal, thrown to her by Heather Morris with Anne Murry in the back corner. Anne of course says that she was just slacking off in the corner, but I choose to think she was creating space for Rhonda to score the goal.
Luisa: Do you know how many teams participated in that, well, how many teams participated in the National Championships, but also how many women's teams participated at all in that first year?
Suzanne Fields: There were five women's teams at nationals in 1981. And I actually do have that information about the number of teams, but not at my fingertips. I'm guessing it was something around like 25, maybe. I mean, it was, it was a small number, that was one of the metrics that, as the women's national coordinator I was using as, you know, the growth in the number of women's teams.
Tulsa: You mentioned something about Cornell earlier and MSU. So it was college and club, basically all in one?
Suzanne Fields: Right. If you were a women's team, whether you were a club team or a college team, you were in the women's division. Cause there, you know, it would be years and years before there was a college division.
Tulsa: So interesting.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah. And actually the place to really, drum up, team development or the growth of women's teams was college campuses. So
Tulsa: makes sense.
Luisa: So many teams now that have a feeder programs from certain colleges.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah. I mean it took, you know, the, the iteration of ultimate itself going from New Jersey high school to colleges, to big cities, For the men that, you know, that didn't necessarily happen until much later for women, because there weren't as many women's college team, because it was really all an amalgam of, you know, if you play ultimate and you're a woman you qualify for this division.
Tulsa: So moving way forward, and I both play for Gridlock in the PUL and you came to one of our practices, I think, in the first season. So what was that? 2019.
Suzanne Fields: I did. In Brooklyn.
Tulsa: Yeah. What was that like for you to go from creating the women's division to coming to a practice for one of the first women's professional teams.
Suzanne Fields: Pretty mind boggling. I mean, it, it was so awesome to see. I had never met Eileen Murray before, so it was really cool to meet her and to meet you Tulsa. And Luisa, I don't know if you and I had a chance to meet, but I certainly got to see you play. It was, it was so impressive. I mean, I guess I, I don't know if I ever knew that women's ultimate would get there. You know, I had seen the development of, MLU and AUDL and a lot of the dialogue around, who could try out, who could play the focus on open division, or it wasn't really open. It was very much men's. And I knew it would happen at some point, but I was just glad it happened when it did. And I think it took the time it took because it needed to, I mean, sometimes it just takes time to have the volume of players needed to put together such an endeavor, you know, to have, have a big enough volume of competitive players across multiple communities that would support both pro teams and club teams. There's always been less women's division players playing than open division players playing. So it's, you know, and that holds true for all of women's sports. So, I guess in, in the back of my mind, it was a matter of time, but it was like really cool. And I actually felt a little shy about showing up. I just wanted to watch, you know, I'm like, this is really awesome. And from back in the day till now the level of skill from player one to player 21 is all so high. And it's been that way for quite a while now. So yeah, it was, it was really cool. And at night under the lights organized practice, a couple of coaches on the sideline, stopping the play teachable moments. Seeing that happen, was very, very cool. That was very cool though. I have to say I had not like driven around in Brooklyn in a really long time. And on the personal side, I'm like, am I parking in the right place?
Am right place? is everybody? So, yeah, so that's the old, just like being in New York and it's like, ah, I'm in Brooklyn. Okay. Let me get to the right spot. So.
Luisa: I feel like we even have teammates who live in Brooklyn and still kind of feel the same, or at least feel the same tension around trying to find parking.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah, well, I was born in Brooklyn and lived there for the first couple of years of my life. So it should be home, but it's been a long time and Brooklyn is like quite, quite different from back in the day. Yeah. I'm from yea.
Tulsa: I know that you helped create the Kathy Pufahl Spirit Award. And you were really good friends with Kathy. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Kathy and your friendship with her and how the, how you created that award.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah, Kathy was, a really dear friend, really incredible person. She and her husband, Kevin Cande, and their two kids, Tyler and Tori. I've known Kathy for a really long time. We became good friends, because of ultimate. She was very involved in the UPA, and. Her specialty plant business, she was very much hands in the dirt. She started a business, with a hoophouse off the back of her dad's factory on Eastern Long Island. I just loved what she did and how she grew her business and how she was able to grow her business, be so dedicated to the work she was doing at the UPA, having an incredible family. And, unfortunately Kathy got sick. And, you know, she had had some issues earlier in her life. And the thing that really took her down unfortunately, was a surprise. And in forming the Kathy Pufahl's Spirit Award, it just seemed like she was the only person for which that award should be named. And there was a collection her friends who were all behind, writing up that, you know, in, in the way that UPA at the time worked as you needed to write something up and then present it to the board and make it happen. And so there was, to use a Hawaiian word here, hui, a collection of people that got together that wrote up why Kathy was so special and why this award should be named in her honor. And, there was no other answer, but saying, yes, we must establish this award. And Kathy was super special. And, to this day, you know, when it's spring on Maui and the jacaranda are in bloom, and there are these gorgeous purple flowers, you know, they're like purple snow when they're at their peak and they start falling down it's to me, that's Kathy, you know, it's just in the plants. It's, in the spring time, it's, it was the pace of her life every year, you know, you'd get going for the planting season and to have had the opportunity to go visit, Beds and Borders, what her business became and what Kevin and Tory are now running. It's in Mattituck with acres of growing houses and incredible and incredible business that, kind of continues her legacy as someone who was able to do a lot of things with their life and do them all so well. So yeah, that was, I had to re like control myself. Cause I, when I talk about Kathy gets really emotional, she was just a really amazing person. I get little visions of like when we would, one of the, one of the houses she and Kevin lived at when Tori was a little girl. I remember there was, a little kiddie pool, in front of the house and Tori, she would just go for it. And she would just go head first in this pool. And Kathy was always so calm about just picking up this little kid right out of the pool, which, you know, Tori was like a go getter, a little kid. You really couldn't stop her. And Kathy was just so adept at, doing whatever she was doing, plus keeping an eye on Tori and carrying on. So plus she was, she was a ball around the field too,
Tulsa: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. It's, it's really special to hear from you. Somebody who got to spend a lot of time with her, about her and her legacy. Yeah,
Suzanne Fields: yep.
Luisa: The imagery you just gave was very beautiful too. So thank you.
And in case we have listeners who don't know, can you briefly explain the, what is the Kathy Pufahl Spirit Award and what is the criteria for it and everything?
Suzanne Fields: The heart of the criteria is to make a difference. And so, the disc that we created for her, I mean, it really is, there's like some flowers on it, but at the end of the day, it's giving back and making a difference.
Luisa: Share the Air will be right back. But first here's a quick word from our sponsors.
Tulsa: Share the Air is sponsored by the National Ultimate Training Camp located in Western Massachusetts. NUTC is the longest running ultimate sleepover camp in the country. It has also gone international, hosting camps and teaching clinics all over the globe. With the most talented coaches in the world, NUTC is teaching ultimate for the next generation. Learn from the best at NUTC.
Luisa: Share the Air is also sponsored by VC Ultimate. VC has been producing custom uniforms and performance apparel since 1998. A company that proudly puts values and community before profit, VC is the world's best source for quality design and all of your ultimate needs.
Suzanne Fields: I would love to tell you a little bit more about what's happening with the Hall of Fame these days.
Tulsa: Yes, yes. We would love to talk about that.
Suzanne Fields: Okay. So the heart of the Hall of Fame for most of the years has been the vetting committee, which is the core of people that manage the Hall of Fame selection process and the selection process itself has evolved over the years. But the thing that, is really cool to have happened towards the tail end of 2019, is that, as a Hall, we determined that it was time to establish a board of directors. Because just doing the vetting committee work, as a group, we know that there was more that we could do as an organization within the ultimate community.
So we established a board of directors. There was a, a vote amongst the Hall of Fame members and a board of, I believe 13 people was identified, And, we convened, in the latter part of 2019, the early part of 2020, we established a nonprofit status and formed some of the usual committees, like a finance committee, a bylaws committee , an executive committee, which is the, officers plus, I was named as the administrator, but also as the chairperson of the vetting committee. And as the administrator, I'm involved in pretty much all of the committees. So a unique committee that we established that I think is really at the heart of where we, we want to go is what we call our principal's committee.
And within the principals committee, it's kind of the umbrella for what do we want the Hall of Fame to grow up and be. Because just, you know, giving kudos to people who were great athletes on the field or incredible contributors to the sport, or who have added something special under the special merit category, that's all good and that's going to continue, but I think we have an opportunity to do more, to be more and to help the sport, be different, and go in directions that would be helpful to the ultimate community at large.
So under the, principles committee, we established, a couple of things. One was a "Mission Vision" subcommittee. At first, what we did was rewrite the mission and vision to remove gendered language. And we knew that didn't necessarily go far enough. So we do have a mission and vision, but it still needs additional work.
We also formed a social justice racial equity committee, and we know that there's a lot going on. There are a lot of conversations going on and a lot of energy, thoughtfulness and effort being put into looking at our sport and see what we can do to better our sport. And so within the context of our racial equity social justice committee, you know, like every organization that's primarily non-BIPOC, we really wanted to expand our knowledge.
And so, one of the things we did as our racial equity social justice committee as a group, we worked with Taylor Connie Moray, and did her 21 day racial equity bootcamp. it was this really incredible opportunity for us as a group, virtually for Taylor to post a topic, and you either read, watch the video or listen to whatever that topic is for the day. And then as a group, your requirement is to complete that and respond to that, in the chat that would go with each day's topic. And so we did that for 21 days straight. And Taylor let us know that we were the only group she's ever worked with that started and ended with the same number of people. But at the end of this 21 days, we did a debrief with Taylor and our next step in addition to further work with the racial equity social justice committee, we're convening, reconvening, our mission vision subcommittee, within the context of our listening and learning to look at the language used in our mission vision, to see where we can improve it so that it really is more fitting, and sensitive and inclusive for the ultimate community at large.
So we're really stoked at, the opportunities that we have as an organization, not to keep focusing on let's honor X, Y, and Z. But, the folks that are involved with the Hall of Fame are super thoughtful and super engaged. And on many levels, individuals are doing individually and collectively some really cool things.
So if there's an opportunity to use our voice in a way to amplify some of that, then we want to do that. And again, we don't have our roadmap set out yet and we still have a lot of work to do. Cause one of our, shorter term challenges is when USAU updated their website, they did not include the Hall of Fame section in their update.
So our content is now archived. It's accessible, but it's, it's not, you know, unless you know where to go, you're not gonna find it. So we're actually working with Andrew Lovseth to create our own website, and we will continue to partner with USAU until our website is ready.
One of the cool things we had the opportunity to do is, Nicole Neumiller of Ultimate Impact joined us in our 21 day bootcamp. And so, through Nicole and through relationships with others in the ultimate community where, you know, our intent is to, you know, have the lines of communication more open and be more two way and not just be, here's what we're doing this year as a Hall of Fame.
But, see what we can do to be more, engaged in the community, in other ways. And you know, some of those other ways could be things like I mentioned earlier, a brick and mortar Hall of Fame, or we do actually have Hall of Fame and we do work with projects like Ultiphotos, or other archival initiatives to really pull stuff together in a way that makes ultimate more inviting and attractive for folks to get to know more. So there's a lot going on between the principles committee, mission vision, the racial equity social justice committee, our usual vetting committee work, expanding the people that are on the vetting committee, so it's really balanced by gender. And also adding folks who are more recent Hall of Fame inductees. So this year, Dom Fontenette, Vivian Zaius and, Lori Parham Ewald are leading the women's division peer pool. And on the open side, continuing with Steve Dugan and the added Jeff Cruickshank, and we still have some things to solve on how to handle contributors, and we're probably gonna have a special merit nominee this year. So, we definitely have a lot going on.
Luisa: I know that you just said that, the group hasn't really laid out a roadmap of sorts yet, but I'm curious what, if you can share what raw ideas are going around, in terms of racial equity or inclusivity, or even just the, the general support.
Suzanne Fields: I think we're at this point, wanting to kind of inventory the organizations that are out there and what their needs are, we don't want to tell them what they need, but get to a point where we can ask them what they need. So whether it's Shanye and, and Disc Diversity, whether it's, Age Up, you know, whether it's some of the more community focused like disk Northwest or BADA or BUDA, or some of the groups that are doing racial equity consulting, essentially the beginnings of it is just kind of doing an inventory of who's out there, and not presuming at all, to make any recommendations, but, to set up a process whereby perhaps we could ask them what they need and if some of what they need might be some help with fundraising or help with marketing or help with something.
There are folks within the hall of fame that, they may have some skillsets that they could share with some of these more developing organizations. You know, so we haven't really figured that out yet.
The other thing we're working on is kind of the beginnings of thinking about whether or not we might want to consider how to support or help develop halls of fame in other places, whether it's internationally or at a statewide level. Because halls of fame exist in different iterations in different places. So for example, in Hawaii, in association with the Kaimana every year, HULA, the Hawaii Ultimate League Association has their Hall of Fame. And that is solely based on your contribution to Hawaii ultimate. And other halls of fame have other things that they recognize. Queenie, whose name is escaping me, who, organizes ultimate in Africa have started a Hall of Fame for some of the African countries. Canada has a Hall of Fame. Australia has a Hall of Fame. And there's something to be learned, not just the U.S. You know, way of doing things, but there may be a way to, if it's important to a community, to highlight the people who have kind of done the heavy lifting to get ultimate started in their communities. It doesn't matter if it was two or three or five years ago or, you know, 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago.
Luisa: Is the U.S. Hall of Fame speaking with any other countries right now?
Suzanne Fields: Well, we earlier in, was it late last year, early this year? We convened a couple of conversations. So we invited Queenie, the Canadian folks, folks from Great Britain, you ha from Finland, I'm forgetting the gentleman from Japan. So we've convened a couple of phone conversations to just get started. And it's super cool. Cause TK, Tom Kennedy is leading the international, enterprise, with Harvey, Angela and Pat leading the racial equity social justice. I'm doing my usual thing with the vetting committee. And Lori Van Holmes is leading the principles committee. Then we have "Nob" Rauch, who leads the finance and Brian Murphy who leads bylaws. And I hope I didn't leave out anybody. Oh. And Dave Blau and I have been working on communications. So we've been pretty busy.
Tulsa: Yeah, I guess I had thought of hall of fames in general, as like the purpose being to celebrate the individuals who have contributed to the sport. And it sounds like you're almost harnessing and like channeling all of these individuals who have contributed to the sport in such an impactful way into continuing to grow and change the sport. And I hadn't thought of it that way. I wonder for you just yeah. How you envision or how you view the, the value of a hall of fame for a sport like ultimate.
Suzanne Fields: Well, I think we would be stagnating if we just kept it as the focus that we previously had. I think the desire to, and the action put towards evolving our focus is really the right thing to do. And you know, it'll take a little time to, you know .However we do it, it may not be the exact right way, but you know, we'll figure it out as we go and we'll probably make some mistakes. But I think, the purpose that we have, the vision that we have is helping to grow the sport in whatever way we can. And, you know, the work of groups like Age Up and Ultimate Impact you know, kinds of things that ultimate can accomplish, kind of hearkens back to like, you know, rate the game on one to a hundred on how much fun we had. And, and we like export that fun to, to bigger audiences to folks who were not touched by ultimate in the past. And if we can do that incrementally, I think we'll be headed in the right direction. At least that's my two cents. And, you know, know, I just don't want to, like, here's a plaque, so-and-so great. You did good. And not to diminish any of that, but I think there are bigger things that we can accomplish, and harnessing the expertise and the experience and the thoughtfulness of the folks who have been involved with the board and some of the Hall members who have volunteered to join some of our subcommittees has been really great. And we're going to be continuing to look for others to join the board in participating in a particular sub committee for a period of time if there's an expertise that might help us advance our mission vision, in a certain direction, then, then we'll see if that's the path to go down. So yeah, a lot of, I don't know, the vision I get in my head is, is typically like in the olden days, you'd see at a circus somebody's spinning plates, you know, and some are spinning faster some are spinning slower and you gotta like pay attention to the slower spinning plates to make sure they don't fall. So we're really spending a lot of plates at one time and, hopefully we'll get to where we're aiming.
So the other thing that we're working really hard on is diligent more diligently on is having regional balance as well. And so, one of the gifts that we got from Pam Kraus, who was the just prior, women's division peer pool coordinator, is that she is an incredible data geek and the information that she gathered to demonstrate visually, graphically, data in a data-driven way. Our regional representation, our team by team representation has been phenomenal. And it's really, I think, revolutionized and totally updated our outreach so that we know which regions need folks to join a peer pool, which team we may want to add one or two more people. I mean, it's, it's that, at that level of specificity, which has been super cool.
It was interesting to see the women's division inductees from last year. We're a very diverse group. The open division, maybe not so much. And I don't know if that says anything about the sport in particular. But it does point out to us that we have some work to do, we want to continue to have results that are representative of the ultimate community. And if there are ways that we can impact the ultimate community in a positive way, then, then that's what we'll try to do.
Luisa: Share the Air will be back after a quick message from our newest sponsor, Dr. Mandy Wintink of the Centre for Applied Neuroscience in Toronto. Mandy's work involves teaching and guiding folks to learn more about their brain and how it works. Today, they'll share a situation that ultimate players may find familiar and how we can reframe our perception of mistakes into opportunities for growth.
Mandy Wintink: Hi, I'm Mandy Wintink, a former competitive ultimate player, and the owner and founder of the Centre for Applied Neuroscience. What we do at my company is we use science and mindfulness to teach people about their brains. So today I have a nugget of applied neuroscience for you that has to do with errors. Imagine that you're learning a new throw and you nail it the first time. Now imagine you're learning a new throw and you miss your target. Which scenario do you think is more likely to result in success later? Well, the science around errors suggests that the scenario where you miss would actually be better for success. Why? Because our brain has an error detection and adjustment system. So for example, learning that new throw, the goal might be hitting our teammate. And if our throw is off, then certain brain regions will detect that and then signal other regions to pay attention. Basically, the brain goes into hyper-focus mode and that involves more brain power, more attention to detail, and greater chance of success later on. What's also really amazing is that accuracy goes up later the more off our throw is at the beginning. So if your throw early on is good enough, then your brain doesn't have to really work that hard. It doesn't have to focus the same way, but if you're off quite a bit, then all the attention that you recruited will actually help improve your throw. So from a brain's perspective, mistakes are good. If you wanted to learn more about applied neuroscience, visit us at www.knowyourbrain.ca and mentioned that you heard about us on Share the Air podcast and you will get a 5% discount on our services. And we'll also give 5% back to Share the Air to keep their good work going. Thank you.
Tulsa: I had a question going back a bit, when you're talking about the 21 day, what was it? The
Suzanne Fields: Racial, racial equity bootcamp.
So when you're talking about the, that bootcamp, was there anything that either you individually, or you as a group kind of had some sort of moment of like, oh, we hadn't thought about this before, or, oh, this is some principle that we want to take in, apply to looking at the Hall of Fame and ultimate in general or anything like that.
Suzanne Fields: You know, when I look at the things that we talked about, you know, topics such as how to tell someone they sound racist, looking at some of the dislocation that happened with the Native American population, talking about institutionalized racism and the rhetoric that goes with that, one of the topics was, are Asian Americans, even people of color.
I mean, there was a piece that, is I'm looking at his face and I'm blanking on Noah.
Tulsa: Trevor Noah?
Suzanne Fields: Trevor Noah, the Trevor just, he did this podcast on George Floyd and the dominoes of racial injustice.
That was incredible. And just going to President Obama's like a little piece on fired up, even having a poet, you know, kind of talk about, her piece called Dear White People and some stuff from Ta-Nehisi Coates. I mean, we covered so much territory and I think a lot of what we talked about truly was, you know, getting comfortable and uncomfortable, you know, and finding those areas where we were uncomfortable and trying to, kind of get to know each other better so that we could have better, deeper, conversations.
Tulsa: Yeah. Yeah. That's really valuable and really hard.
Suzanne Fields: Yes. Yes. And sometimes it's just like knowing when to shut up
Tulsa: Yep. Thank you for sharing that. My team, brute Squad has been doing our own sort of equity workshop series, and I think it's been interesting to have conversations and learn these things and talk about these things with people that I've played so much ultimate with and am so close with on the field, but to have push ourselves to have the uncomfortable conversations off the field has been really different and valuable.
Suzanne Fields: Yeah. And to have our full committee participate in that 21 day experience was I think galvanizing in a way that we would not, as a group, have gotten to if we were just continuing on our, like once a month meetings on racial equity, social justice. So it was a way in a purposeful way of, of jump-starting our learning and our listening so that we could be a little bit more informed going forward.
Tulsa: Yeah. Yeah. And I liked that phrase of jump-starting. Like realizing that's not it doing the 21 days isn't it, but getting the little kick to get rolling. Yeah. Okay. So one question we have for you is what's next for you? I mean, you've done a whole lot in your career, so what's coming down the road?
Suzanne Fields: Um, what's next? Well the next big rock when it comes to the Hall of Fame in terms of milestones is our next hall of fame celebration and get together is 2023. So I am thinking that they may be done with me by then. And that could be in terms of managing the vetting process, you know, maybe somebody else picks up that baton. So we're really looking at, you know, who's next up kind of a thing at some point in succession planning. So 2023 could be my last soiree, but, you know, I'm, I'm a young 67. I don't see myself really stopping a lot of things. What's next for me is continuing to stay in good enough shape so I can continue to play goaltimate or ultimate three times a week. And continuing to do the volunteer work that I'm doing, to have an impact, because if the end of the day, if you don't have an impact, if you're not contributing in some way, then you know, maybe your priorities are not in the right place. So, that's kind of my focus these days is, I'm fortunate that I don't have to go to work every day. I mean, I'm not rolling in the dough, but I have enough to sustain me and I can then put my focus on things that are important to me and making sure the Hall of Fame is moving in the right direction since I've been a part of this enterprise since, for 16 years now. Can't believe it's been 16 years already. And then my volunteer work here on Maui, and, getting in the ocean more often. I'm very much an earth person and I'm surrounded by the ocean. And on many days I'd almost rather dig in the garden more than I'd jump in the ocean. So I, wanting to shift that priority a little bit. And kind of near term, I'm looking forward to going to a wedding in California in the middle of July. And I'm hoping that by then, things will be loosened enough and people will be vaccinated enough, and it's a wedding of a person that plays ultimate. So I'm hoping to see a lot of ultimate players there.
Tulsa: That's look forward to.
Luisa: So you've, you've seen what someone could argue as every iteration of women's ultimate that has ever existed. Given everything that you've seen and everything that you've contributed to, what do you hope is next for the women's game, for ultimate as a whole?
Suzanne Fields: For the women's game, I hope that the differences in style and strategy, which are so apparent between open, women's division, and mixed, I hope that the beauty of each of those different styles and strategies are appreciated for what they are and how they're played out on the field so that folks can really value the differences. So I would like to see that celebrated. While, it's kind of exciting to watch the huck-and-run game, to see the beauty of deliberate, offensive movement on the field and then eventually see some really amazing, you know, to me the correct throw, you shouldn't have to lay it out. It should be to the person, but, seeing that still is exciting and fun. so for all of the divisions of play , you know, I really hope that folks can come to appreciate the differences and value those differences. I think I also see the continued, getting to a more level playing field, so to speak. It's just always heartbreaking when you watch the NCAA basketball and you always have to have the NCAA W you know, you always have to differentiate. It's always thought as the NCAA is men's basketball and the whole stupidity of here, we got a yoga mat and a few basketballs that's our workout area. I mean, I just wish on the grand scheme of the world, that folks could be less divisive about, you know, the differences and just see that there shouldn't, people shouldn't be treated differently. Athletes are athletes, whether they're women's division, open division, men, transgender, whatever, they're that person - wherever and however that person is competing, they're an athlete and just let them play and give them the resources they need to play. So I'm hoping that, ultimate continues to grow. I really want to see the women's division grow. I would love to see more attention on the women's division, the pro leagues. And also I'm really looking forward to seeing, the work that Shanye is doing. I would love to be there in person for some of those activities, you know, if the situation changes and they actually can play games, that will be awesome. I would like to see more media on women's ultimate. The highlight reel that , that Lili Gu and others put together was phenomenal. There needs to be more of that. One of my heartbreaks is that The Sky is Red, did not come to fruition. I wish there was a way for that to come forward or at least parts of it to come forward. So yeah, so there's definitely some regret there, but some optimism and hope that media coverage for women's sports, including ultimate, can be more equal going into the future.
I have to say every time I see a highlight reel that Ultiworld or somebody puts out. I guess today there was a highlight reel on, best Easterns of all time. And like, my first reaction was (A) Easterns has been going on since the 80s and (B) it was just , open division from the last, like six, seven years.
And so my immediate reaction is also, so where's the, the companion highlight of the women's division teams. I just wish there was more equal airtime.
That's what I wish.
Equal airtime. Because if you can't see it, you can't be it. And every time people counter that, it annoys me. You have to see it to be it.
Luisa: I think the difference even just with Tulsa and I playing in the PUL. I think since joining the PUL, which is what two years ago? The amount of footage I have of even just myself has doubled. I mean, I've only been playing for like seven years, but still that's, a really crazy amount for in just essentially one year of play to have the number of games of myself, of other women, doubled because of it. It's really impressive.
Suzanne Fields: That's absolutely impressive. And I think , that's a great example of what the professional league brings to ultimate. What PUL brings to ultimate is the opportunity to see it. Um, And I think that says so much about why it's important to have the PUL and , to get our folks that are videographers to make a commitment, to try and be as, as , balanced as they can be in, in what they choose to film and share.
Tulsa: Yeah and consider, oh, we're putting out this highlight reel and we're naming it "Best Easterns". should it have "Best Men's Easterns from 2010 to 2020" or something? Add a little more, few more qualifiers there.
Suzanne Fields: Yes. The qualifiers would be helpful.
Suzanne Fields: Yes, absolutely.
Tulsa: Okay. Should we get into the game?
Luisa: Yeah, let's do it. So we're going to play a quick question game to end our call here. It's called 10 Second Stall and Tulsa and I are going to go back and forth asking you some questions. We're going to have 10 seconds for someone to ask a question and for you to answer it.
Suzanne Fields: We could go back to the eighties and do a 12 second stall. No,
let's not go.
Suzanne Fields: No Let's let's let's not go. No, let's go. Let's not go back.
Tulsa: Okay. I'll start us off. Okay.
What teammate do you want on the line with you?
Suzanne Fields: Heather Morris.
Luisa: Who is the hardest matchup you've ever had guarding or being guarded by?
Suzanne Fields: Goodness. lately my friend here on Maui, Deb Cremins because she's 10 years younger than me and she just loves beating me because I'm slower.
Tulsa: What's the best tournament party.
Suzanne Fields: Kaimana.
Luisa: I was going to say the two nights that I was there for it. It was an incredible, incredible party.
Suzanne Fields: It was Kaimana before the flood. Because ever since we were, you know, it's been moved to another location, so Kaimana pre-flood years.
Luisa: Favorite tournament location.
Suzanne Fields: Waimanolo.
Tulsa: Favorite play you've ever made.
Suzanne Fields: Oh goodness. Favorite play I've ever made? I don't know. I'm a terrible hucker so it would be, oh, at Kaimana in 2019, I threw a like ridiculous, stupid huck from the left sideline to the back right corner of the end zone. But it was awesome. And then the second favorite play from that tournament was I threw this sneaky little low pass to Erin Schroeder and she was having so much fun jumping in the air, wearing her little overalls that she dropped the goal.
Luisa: I love that. A book, a podcast or TV show recommendation.
Suzanne Fields: Oh, I think Trevor Noah.
Tulsa: Who's someone you're grateful for.
Suzanne Fields: Oh , Kathy Pufahl.
Luisa: Who's the best sideline presence.
Suzanne Fields: Teammates Susan Burke was so loud. She's very good. She was great sideline presence.
Tulsa: What's your favorite non ultimate hobby.
Suzanne Fields: Gardening, yard work.
Luisa: Most embarrassing fashion trend you ever wore.
Suzanne Fields: Oh God, the eighties. I mean, we, there was some Nationals tournament. I think it was in New Orleans and I was wearing a black jumpsuit with a zipper down the front that zipper kept going lower and lower and and lower. Oh yeah. That was pretty funny.
Tulsa: Okay, final question. What's your cell phone wallpaper.
Suzanne Fields: Oh, it's the picture looking out the door of a cabin up in Haleakala.
Tulsa: That sounds nice. Nice work. No stalls.
Suzanne Fields: Woo.
Oh, I was hesitating on a couple, but I pride myself in not getting stalled. I can say I definitely do get called for travels. So it was a good thing this wasn't called "Travel."
Tulsa: Awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for spending two plus hours with us. I had a lot of fun talking with you and learned a lot and yeah. Greatly appreciate all of the work that you've done and all the work you're continuing to do.
Suzanne Fields: Okay. Well, thank you. This was super fun. It's, you never know how these podcasts are going to go. And the questions are awesome and very thought provoking. And with the recent work we've been doing on the Hall of Fame, I'm really glad that I had a chance to talk about that. Cause I think, we have the opportunity to do some really good work and we'll see where that goes.
Luisa: Well, that's it for the first half of season, one of Share the Air. As we said at the top of the show, we're taking a week off before we come back with the rest of the season. If you like what you've been hearing, there are a few ways you can support us during our week off.
Tulsa: Right now, we're trying to get the word out about our show to as many people as possible. So tell your teammates, tell your friends, tell your family, anyone who might know what ultimate is. Pick one specific person who you think might like this show and share it with them. Every new listener is a huge win for us.
Luisa: You can follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Instagram at sharetheairpodcast and Twitter at sharetheairpod.
Tulsa: And please give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. And if you really love us, please leave a comment as well.
Luisa: And of course check out our Patreon. While we won't be releasing an episode to the general public this week, if you can't get enough of us, most of our Patreon levels will get you a bonus episode. We've already released one with extra content from our interviews with Dom and Amel, and our bonus episode next week will be with Adriana Withers of VC Ultimate, who's one of our sponsors. Our Patreon is a fantastic way to help support the show and all of our guests.
Tulsa: We can't wait to be back with you soon. As a reminder, our next regular episode will be out on July 4th. Have a great week. Two weeks. Have a great two weeks. See ya in two weeks. Share the Air is hosted by Tulsa Douglas and Luisa Neves. It's produced and edited by Tulsa Douglas, Luisa Neves, and Tim Bobrowski.
Luisa: Share the Air's music is by Grey Devlin and Christopher Hernandez. Thanks again to our sponsors, NUTC and VC Ultimate.