As a new freshman, walking through the UC Berkeley clubs fair can be intimidating. Our campus holds a literal gluttony of opportunity, seemingly offering every niche student organization in existence. Many of these clubs and teams compete at the top of their level, and it was unnerving to think how I would fit into the program. Luckily, I found my place in the inclusive community of the Pie Queens, Cal’s Women’s Club Ultimate team.
The Pie Queens are run unlike most other Cal club sports. Since ultimate frisbee is not a sport typically offered at high schools, no prior experience is expected. In the fall, the program works on a no-cut basis, with any UC Berkeley student being invited and encouraged to join. Rookies play alongside experienced athletes who teach and encourage new players, working 1 on 1 to develop skills and strategy. We do everything any club sport at Cal does: travel to tournaments, attend socials and outings, and train under world-class coaches (some of whom are literally on the U.S. world’s team). This model of inclusivity and encouragement is vital to the development of widely successful spring “A” team, who go on to play at the college national championships. A no-cuts spring “B” team continues to play competitively, offering a perfect environment to continue learning developing skills.
Though UC Berkeley is an enormous school, small and inclusive programs like women’s club ultimate team make it easy to find community. Playing with the Pie Queens has taught me that competitiveness is not always associated with exclusivity. What makes us a great team is our belief in each other’s abilities, and the encouragement to develop this skills. Many other UC Berkeley programs work on a similar model, such as our AFX dance program which guarantees a spot on a team to any student who auditions. College is the perfect place to try new things, and with inclusive programs here at Cal, the possibilities are seemingly endless.