You don’t need East Coast Bias to see that the Sydney ultimate scene creates some world class athletes. You’ve probably never heard of a Ladomatos before, but Helena is actually very good at frisbee. Throughout this campaign it’s been a privilege to watch Helena’s confidence soar, and even better, to watch her throw without a doubt the best flick the team has seen yet, a few weeks ago. Good things must come in small packages because she is the handblock queen, one of our most reliable handlers and the one you want with disc in hand when you’re cutting deep. Branda, another handler out of UNSW, is one of the hardest people to mark on the team. Her cuts into small but powerful spaces have burnt her defender before they even know what’s happening, and her hucks look effortless as they connect without fail. I admit it’s bold to put Kass in the Sydney group when she’s only moved there this year, but she’s already made a name for herself in the city. Despite being the youngest (and one of the tiniest) on the team, Kass has a huge presence on defense - opposing handlers beware - and has hands as safe as houses.
Why are you good at ultimate?
Helena: I think I have a calming presence on field and control the offensive tempo well - I know when to slow down or push forward, and my hammer fake gets people every time.
Branda: I try to be an active handler by attacking strong spaces after I move the disc (but low key running away so that I don't have to be in the handler space and I can cut instead). I also have good field awareness and will have my head on the swivel when playing defence.
Kass: I'm good at ultimate because I can do the basics. It isn't highlight-reel stuff but I almost never drop a disc and I make good decisions when I have it in hand, that is if I'm not in the end zone scoring ;)
Why do you play ultimate? What does it give you that other sports don't?
Helena: Nothing pulls you into reality more than when you're sunburnt, dehydrated and physically drained during a tournament and you still need to grind on field for another two days. Ultimate has taught me how to be mentally strong, built my confidence x 100 not only on the field but in life in general, and given me some incredible friendships.
What has been the hardest thing about becoming/being a stingray? What sacrifices have you made?
Branda: The hardest thing about becoming a Stingray is probably the pressure of living up to the Stingray legacy - especially knowing how successful the team has been over the previous campaigns. The biggest sacrifice has definitely been time. Training for Stingrays has meant more gym sessions and pods than I've ever done previously. I literally thought it was impossible to spend more time playing frisbee than I already did but lol I was wrong.
Helena: Pushing through with training when you're feeling physically and mentally drained. Luckily I have a beautiful team that reignites my motivation every time I see them.
What would you be doing with all your time and money if you didn't give it all to ultimate?
Kass: My dog would probably have one of those two-storey luxury dog houses
What's something you wish the general public understood more about ultimate?
Kass: That it's not easy. It takes a very high level of athleticism and sportsmanship to make it to the standard of Ultimate that each girl on the Stingrays has and it shouldn't be brushed off because it's "just frisbee".
Helena: Frisbee players are frothers for merch, and with insta famous players like @ynezruiz there are some real money making opportunities #sponsorus
Shout-out someone you look up to in ultimate, then tell us why:
Helena: Is it cheating to have two? Miss Eunice Cheung and Alexander Ladomatos. Two people who train incredibly hard, give so much to the teams they play with and who always have time to help me improve. Time with them is so incredibly valuable to me. Eunice has showed me how to be a powerful boss b*tch handler (and how to be self-deprecating lol) and Alex has taught me how to think simply and pragmatically about frisbee. They're both on my #visionboard.
Branda: Big shoutout to Alex Lado (sorry, Alex Gan) for constantly roasting me but still helping me improve at the sport. He is so blunt and upfront that you will have no idea whether he is being genuine or sarcastic when he pays you a compliment for a throw.
Kass: Alex Shepherd :) We met earlier this year and he has helped me improve as a player so much. He gives really good feedback and is always willing to give me tips and explain things to me when I ask. He played Colony this season (you might've heard of them) and is such an inspirational player on and off the field who has one of the highest levels of commitment to Ultimate than anyone I've ever met.