Tag Archive for ladies army

Not If, But When?: Women’s League in Bike Polo

men women

There is a lot to love about bike polo. The sport has made it possible for me to lose weight, vent my rage-face in a pleasant fashion, and introduced me to the joys of PBR (which I really didn’t like at all back in the day but now I find no tourney complete without kicking a few back after elimination…so Sunday morning, in most cases…).

But, what really makes my heart happy is that ladies and gents play the same sport at the same time in the same teams with the same rules. As evidenced by my very first post on the matter, I think women in bike polo are awesome, and it makes me feel more-than-pride when I find the opportunity to explain to people that our sport has always been mix gender.

In a recent interview with some of the organizers of Ladies Army 5, however, two responses that caught my eye:

Do you think there should be more lady-specific tourneys?

I think they are great, and there are more: Hells Belles has done really well.  Mallet Dolorosa in Berlin April 6-7 this year.  I know there is a concern about a gender split in the sport, and that there is minor support for a gender split (from the women’s side, I haven’t heard anything from the men’s side), but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and personally, I hope it never does.  I also think the rise of the co-ed tournaments is filling a gap.

Shannon would also like to try and avoid segregation of the sport, and although some people feel it is an inevitability, she too would like to postpone that for as long as possible.  “There is a place for women in bike polo and I’d like for us to have a chance to prove that.  One female-only tournament is already kind of pushing our luck, but I’ve always felt that as long as the primary focus of the tournament was fun and encouragement it would be hard to argue that it was “unfair” for us to have.”

I never really thought about it until I read that there was a small contingent pushing to segregate the sport, and that it was viewed as an inevitability. It got me to thinking about what that would mean, overall, and how it would change the sport as a whole.

I’m not proposing answers, here. I’m theorizing and philosophizing, so let me first make this blanket statement: I hate the idea of separating men and women in the sport of bike polo. I hate it hard. With my brief tourney encounters with the likes of Shelley, Quinn, Jessie, Erica and Chandel (just to name a few), it became apparent that the ladies of the sport could more than hold their own against men. Hell, I’d say all the names mentioned above are players who could readily destroy me in a game.

But as the sport grows and, presumably, ladies specific tourneys continue to grow in size and number (which is good!), people will begin to wonder if the separation is warranted. They’ll look at almost every other sport and say “well, they must have done it for a reason, right?”

But have you watched ladies lacrosse? Man that’s weird. They have a no contact bubble. What?!

Would there be benefits? Probably some: women who aren’t playing the sport now might me more apt to start playing, there would be more tourneys that sprout up, and more recognition for the women who have already made a name for themselves in the sport.

But is that worth it? Would we as a sport lose something bigger by separating sexes like some middle school square dance?

I think we would – but I sure as hell want to hear your opinion.

Congrats to the Valkyries, Hot Honey Biscuits, Great White North, and Errybody at LA5

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I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon watching the ladies of ladies army slay it in the rain. It became remarkably apparent in short order that the Valkyries and Hot Honey Biscuits  were going to face off for the final (actually, it wasn’t that apparent, Great White North and Cobbler Politics also had a pretty fair chance at going for the top finish), and it was one hell of a surprise when the Valkyries scored twice in the first 45 seconds and then build on that lead for the rest of the game.

The winning goal came from Quinn, and it was one of the most beautiful goals I’ve seen in a long time. It didn’t look physically possible, really, and I guess that’s what made it amazing.

Anyway, congrats to all the players in Ladies army and to the long line of sponsors who were mentioned throughout the day (and to Jinxy, who somehow wasn’t mentioned at all while I was watching the live stream: thanks for providing the wheel covers to the girls and for all your support of Ladies Army over the years).

Guess it’s back to boring, Ladies Army-less weekends, now…

Ladies Army 5: Interview with Lisa, Jill, and Shannon

LA5

A little while ago I managed to secure an interview with Lisa Moffatt, organizer and poloista extraordinaire of Ladies Army 5. Little did I know how seriously she’d take the interview, rounding up Jill Nintze and Shannon Frey to also help answer the questions I posed. I am delighted to feature this interview on Lancaster Polo and to have such intelligent answers.

 

Ladies Army has proven to be a staple of bike polo in North America and indeed across the world.  Why d’ya think that is?

Lisa (photo by Brandon Carter)

Lisa (photo by Brandon Carter)

I think the Ladies Army offers something different to the polo community.  Yes, it’s all women playing for two days, but it’s the only time you can see THAT MANY WOMEN playing in one weekend.  I believe the atmosphere during the tournament is also something you don’t experience elsewhere.  Let’s be real here, it is a highly competitive tournament, but most women leave the fight on the court.  When those games end, the hugs are sincere, the compliments are genuine.  There is an amazing atmosphere of support for each other and we are proud of the level of play our sisters are bringing to the court.  And then we get all dressed up and head to prom – what could be better than that?!

I also think Pat O’Grady did us a huge favour by setting up a live feed in Austin, as well, the videos that came out of that tournament from Mr.  Do also put Ladies Army in the forefront.

“The first (and most important) is that it provides a foothold for women to get into the sport.  Bike polo is an intimidating scene to get into for anyone, but even more so for women.  There is a lot of excitement about the tournament among ladies who play, and I think that excitement translates into motivation for new players to give it a try.  A lot of ladies get recruited on the basis of needing a third to attend Ladies Army.  The second reason is, of course, that it’s a big old party.  The tournament has a great vibe to begin with, focusing on fun and encouragement, so when you add to that another 50 to 100 dudes just looking to watch polo and have a good time; you end up with a fairly epic three-day party.” 

What are some unique challenges that face LA and its organizers?

I am not sure if they are challenges unique to Ladies Army, but because the tournament is different than most other tournaments (I say “most” because now we have an established Hells Belles, and there’s the Mallet Dolorosa in Germany) in that it is not a fun, themed tournament, it is not a qualifier, it is not a NAH event, it stands alone.  One of our biggest challenges this year was to coordinate with NAH for a date that wouldn’t interfere with the regional qualifiers.  I was one of the members of the ad hoc committee that developed the structure for NAH and also helped develop the suggestion of a set NAH calendar (where qualifiers would be held within X number of months) so that non-NAH events could schedule around NAH events.

We were dealing with two different municipalities to see who could give us the best location for the best date.  In the end, the date changed and it was beyond our control, but we are also more proactive than NAH and have been planning this event since late October/early November.  As I write this, there still isn’t a date nailed down for the Cascadia Qualifier and the SE hasn’t even been announced.  So I don’t think there are as many challenges as there are freedoms and opportunities.

“it’s an international tournament, so everyone is expecting top quality courts and boards.  And despite the fact that the actual tournament is only going to have about 24 teams, we want to accommodate as many people as possible in the Friday co-ed, which means building 4 courts when only two would do otherwise- it’s hard to make everyone happy!” 

Note: as of submitting this interview, there are 27 of 32 Ladies Army teams registered and 47 of 48 co-ed teams registered.

How has it changed? Read more

Ladies Army 5: Interview with Lisa, Jill, and Shannon (Part 2)

You’ve got a whole mess of sponsors, it seems to me.  Do you think this is a sign of the times, or did you and your team do some fancy footwork to make that happen?

As I mentioned, Tiffany Morrow was gracious enough to share the sponsorship list from Lexington, so that was really helpful, but before we even had a confirmed location or date, I was pounding the proverbial pavement seeking sponsorship.  We have a solid sponsorship package (graphic design by Shannon Frey), that supports the tournament’s legitimacy and we have been complimented by several people for our social media campaign.  But also, yes, the prominence of this tournament on the polo calendar has certainly turned the spotlight on it and we are all flattered and only too happy to accommodate anyone who wants to be part of it.

What do you think your freak out moment is going to be?

Oh man!  I don’t know.  I feel like we are so prepared.  We all did a happy dance when Geoffrey Tomlin-Hood (who did the AMAZING promo video) secured a hard wire internet connection for the live feed.  That was my pre-tournament freak out issue: are we going to be able to live-feed??!!

I think the behind-the-scenes is always way worse than people’s perception.  And there are things you can’t control, such as the weather (even though I did a 12 year historical forecast data search for the tournament weekend!!).

I think if anyone is seriously injured, I would be really worried; or if our food gets shut down, or if we get busted for alcohol consumption, because ‘we aren’t drinking on site’.  Shit, now you’ve got me worried…

My freak out moment has nothing to do with the organizing.  I’m going to lose it when I have to line up on the court for the first game.  “IT’S HERE! OMG IT’S FINALLY HERE! HOLY SHIT I ACTUALLY HAVE TO PLAY POLO NOW!”

Where do you see Ladies Army in a few years?

I’m going to leave this one to Shannon because I can’t even begin to guess.  I never thought it would become what it has in four short years.  Who knows?!  I’m happy to watch what happens from the sidelines from here on in.

Shannon hopes it doesn’t change too much.  She thinks this year we’ve seen a “leveling off” of interest (due to travel constraints, understandably) but hopes the tournament keeps this level of excitement and hype.  She also don’t want to see it getting too large, “I’d like to see ladies who attend LA “X” but who’s focus is on the North American “season”: qualifiers, NA’s, worlds.”

Do you think there should be more lady-specific tourneys?

I think they are great, and there are more: Hells Belles has done really well.  Mallet Dolorosa in Berlin April 6-7 this year.  I know there is a concern about a gender split in the sport, and that there is minor support for a gender split (from the women’s side, I haven’t heard anything from the men’s side), but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and personally, I hope it never does.  I also think the rise of the co-ed tournaments is filling a gap.

Shannon would also like to try and avoid segregation of the sport, and although some people feel it is an inevitability, she too would like to postpone that for as long as possible.  “There is a place for women in bike polo and I’d like for us to have a chance to prove that.  One female-only tournament is already kind of pushing our luck, but I’ve always felt that as long as the primary focus of the tournament was fun and encouragement it would be hard to argue that it was “unfair” for us to have.”

Why do you think women are (typically) under-represented in NA’s and Worlds? (this is a question I’ve asked in other interviews, I’m interested in your take). Read more

Great Ladies Army Promo Video

ladies army

I don’t have much to add, but I’m happy to see all the sponsors, and it’s not with a glint of pride in my eye that I saw our own website logo at the end.

Ladies Army 5 from Geoffrey Tomlin-Hood on Vimeo.

A Very Nice Post from Birmingham Bike Polo

I’m all for the ladies, so when I came across this post from Jess X on her reflections of the Ladies Army experience (and ladies playing bike polo in general), I wanted to make sure our readership here took note.

From the post:

I’d began playing with members of the London Ladies Hardcourt Bike Polo Club a little more as I wanted to meet other girls who played and found out they were planning a tournament called Hell’s Belles – the UK’s first ladies majority bike polo tournament. The LLHBPC, in valuing the ‘mixed feel’ of throw-ins and broader tournaments, were seeking to encourage the continued rapid growth of women in bike polo. Vol. 1 took place in October and was a raging success. Players came from all over the UK, Europe and America and twenty teams battled it out to be crowned champions of the polo court. I joined a team with Ludo, an Italian bella and the lovely Eileen from Milwaukee and like a Brummie thorn between two roses I was determined to gain some better tournament experience. Sadly, Eileen fell ill the week of the tournament and Brendan from Dead Rappers gallantly stepped in with the promise of being our perma-goalie.

Visit the Birmingham Bike Polo blog to read the whole post, and why don’t you remind your favorite Bike Polo Playing Gal that she’s just the bees knees.

PSA: Ladies Army and Coed Registration is Now Open

The lovely folks at Lexington Bike Polo have recently announced that registration is open for the next Ladies Army and Coed Tourney:

Ladies Army IV and coed tournament will take place on April 27-29 at the Lexington Bike Polo Courts located at the corner of 6th and Jefferson in Coolavin Park! This tournament is predicted to attract around 40 all-female teams from cities in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as many of their male counterparts to partake in the coed portion play of the weekend.

Visit their post and follow the instructions to register, or visit the post about the event here.

Ladies Army II Video

League just posted this vid on facebook. Here’s to stealing good content (thanks LOBP)

LADIES ARMY II – ESPI V / SUMMER 2010 NYC from Marine Lafite on Vimeo.