Helena Ladomatos and Rosa Wang

Meet Helena and Rosa!

Helena: My name is Helena. I play ultimate frisbee. I'm in my third year of uni studying media majoring in communications and journalism. I guess I've always been kind of sporty. I played netball at school and switched to ultimate frisbee at uni.  

Rosa: And I'm Rosa! I'm in my fourth year of actuarial studies and science majoring in statistics. Ultimate frisbee is my first team sport. I was definitely not the sporty type at school, definitely more the band type of girl. Now, though, all my friends know me as the one who plays ultimate frisbee.   

Despite coming from different sporting backgrounds, both of these girls were completely new to ultimate frisbee when they started uni  

Rosa: I'm from Canberra and when I moved to Sydney I was like 'well I need to make some friends.' The easiest way to do that was to join a sports club because they meet regularly and have a good time together. I joined a bunch of other non-sport clubs too but it ended up being ultimate that was the most receptive community.

 It was so easy to make friends because they met up often and always did things together. I used sport as a social thing to begin with and then I fell in love with the sport.

Helena: When I started netball back in primary school I just wanted to play a sport. My brother was really sporty so it was just something that was a given. It was like 'oh I want to play a sport- I'm going to do netball!' But I think with frisbee I was pretty much the same as Rosa- I didn't really know anyone when I came to UNSW. My bother played frisbee and I was like 'ok I'm going to play frisbee and make friends.' It's the same as what Rosa said; you see people all the time, everyone was so friendly and everyone was there to have a good time. I mean it's a serious sport, but we're all there to have a good time.  

Rosa: Yeah that's so true. One of the aims of our club is to make the sport really accessible because not many people have heard of it before. We offer free training sessions targeted at all levels, which makes it much easier to get into because pretty much everyone is new to it. It's a really easy sport to pick up.  

Helena: That said though, one big thing that I experienced and I've seen with others is that I didn’t want to try anything new because I was always like 'oh I'm going to be bad, what's the point.' I've spoken to my brother about this quite a lot and guys don't have such a big problem with looking like an idiot when trying things. I think with a lot of girls they'll be like 'oh I'm bad so I'm not going to keep playing' and things like that. 

Rosa: Yeah exactly. Sometimes new things are hard to pick up and some people pick them up a easier. I know it’s a big stereotype but boys tend to pick up sports much more easily than girls. Maybe it's because they have a background in sport already. So like Helena was saying, people tend to give up really quickly, especially with girls who start late, like at university age rather than at school. They're like 'do I want to play sport? I don't know, I'm scared about what other people will think.'  

The thing is though, when you first start, I can guarantee that no one's judging you. Everyone's been there before and knows what it's like. The truth is that no one is going to think badly of you or change their opinion of you just because you're maybe not as good as the next person. The important thing is that you try. We care more about how much effort you put in rather than how good you are at the sport.  

Helena: Absolutely. Just do it! Give it a go. Don't worry if your friends don't want to play, just play it and keep trying. All of us have been exactly where you are now!  

Rosa: Plus, you're probably not going to regret it. It's awesome and it opens up so many opportunities and you meet so many people. There's really nothing like team sport.  

Doing sport can actually improve your academic life at uni!  

Rosa: It was definitely hard to find the balance between study and sport at first. When we're in national season at the start of the year, between uni and national teams, we end up training every day of the week. At first it was really overwhelming and hard to balance. 

In the end though, I was able to reach a point where I could switch mindset and each aspect of my life became an escape from the other. I would spend all day at uni and be really brain-dead, but then go to training and have that time to relax and wind-down and not be so stressed about uni. Being able to run around is such a stress release form uni.  

Helena: I think my course is quite a bit less intense than Rosa's. It has a lot of work involved, but at the same time it's not that hard. So especially my first year when we had a lot of frisbee I would always leave things to the last minute. Now, though, I've kind of figured out that that's such a bad habit to get into, even if you don't have super hard work to do. Now it's like 'I have training at eight so I have four hours free. I'll fill in the time by getting some work done now.' You're forced to fill in your time better.  

Rosa: Yeah that’s a really good point, and I've never really thought about it like that! I think definitely playing frisbee has taught me good time management. That's something I can put on my resume! I play frisbee every day of the week and still manage to do alright at uni.   

Helena: The other thing was, particularly at the start of uni, I would just stay up late and do work rather than making good use of time. Now, though, I get home and I'm tired from sport so don't want to stay up until 3am doing work. That also forces me to be better because I'm like 'I want sleep. I need to get my work done earlier so I can sleep properly'   

Rosa: Being in sport has definitely helped my study. I know people who procrastinate so much and just sit on Facebook, but I don’t do that- I don’t have time to! It forces you to get your act together.  

Frisbee has taught these girls so much more than how to throw a plastic disk!  

Rosa: I've learnt so much from playing frisbee, and not just sport things! When you come into the club you're a rookie. You focus on learning the sport, learning the rules and the skills involved.

But then once you get into higher years of uni you start to get involved with the organisation and the behind the scenes stuff. Doing that teaches you so many life skills because it forces you to work with people, learn how everybody works, how to collaborate with people and how to get things done. It forces you to step outside your comfort zone, just to achieve what needs to be done.  

Helena: I think with frisbee, because it's all so small, as soon as you start and you're committed to it, you're basically in. We spend so much time with each other that basically all my uni friends are from frisbee. We all get so involved in the club because it is so small. By doing that, you don't just get better at sport but you learn a lot of lessons just hanging out with new people from all over the uni.  

Rosa: I don’t think I'd be as happy at uni without sport. Between my friends from the club, playing and also organising things for the club, my whole life revolves around frisbee now. I love it!  

Some experiences are really special and stick with you for life 

Rosa: There are some moments that I remember very distinctly that are on-field moments that I think... I don’t know, they're just engrained in my memory because at the time I felt so happy. There was this one game when we were playing at unigames last year, I think against Melbourne. It was universe point and I had the frisbee and we really really wanted to score. I threw this really risky forehand into the far side of the end-zone. I wasn't sure if it was going to come off, but two of our girls caught it and it was just like the most incredible moment.

We were just so happy. The entire team streamed onto the field and we had this massive group hug. Those kind of moments, they make you feel like you've worked together with this group of people that you didn't know at the beginning, no one knew how to play and you've come together as a team and you've just finished a really hard game together. It makes you feel so proud of the girls and how far they've come. You've achieved something together.