There’s a lot of pride that comes from being a player from NSW who isn’t from Sydney. These three players have risen through the ranks of their respective Steel City teams to compete with the best in NSW and beyond. Mandy, out of Wollongong is the definition of a generous player. Settling nicely into a handler role, her hucks make a deep cutter out of anyone and her smart defense annoy the heck out of anyone trying to cut under. The amount she puts in to any team off field is unparalleled. Brittany, from Newcastle, is a player full of surprises, who cannot be underestimated. As a lefty, she brings new spice to the handler line and will throw people open all day. When she goes for it, no one can compete. Then there’s Erin, from Newcastle and also from Wollongong. She’s a dynamic player who prides herself on being the party and social media manager of the team, and her figure 8 cutting style makes her thrive in a horo offense. Any Stingrays goal feels pretty good, but there’s just something special about the Wollongong or Newy Connection, so expect to see us milking that at worlds.
Why are you good at ultimate?
Mandy: Persistence. Once you surpass the newbie period, you're in for life and it literally takes over your life.
Brittany: I think I am good at Ultimate because I work hard and apply myself to everything I do. I hold myself to high expectations and I work for the team and play for the team regardless of what my role is.
Erin: On this team I play a cutter/utility role and I'm good at it because I'm fast, decisive and clever with my cuts and timing. I back myself to get free reliably and froth an iso. Caro called a front of stack break cut for the swing the "Erin Special" the other day and I was shook, what a compliment.
Why do you play ultimate? What does it give you that other sports don't?
Mandy: Friendships and experiences from travelling - in the last 4 years I got to travel all around Australia and this year I'm travelling all around the world! The sport itself is also so unique and so fun. Like actual fun, not like soccer "fun". If you think we're going to offend people you can cut the last bit out I guess.
Note: I thought it would be better to leave the last bit in, I don’t think any avid soccer players will be reading these anyway...
What has been the hardest thing about becoming a stingray? What sacrifices have you made?
Erin: As uncool as it may be to admit, I wanted to be on this team so badly and worked harder for it than I have for almost anything else. I missed a lot of parties (seems like I've missed my mum's birthday every year, sorry Mum!), really skimped on studying for uni and spent basically all my disposable income.
Also, I found out midway through this campaign that I tore my right ACL a few years ago. It's been really tough trying to rehab and get my body ready for worlds with a pretty important part of my leg missing. It's taken heaps of physio and hours on hours in the gym but I feel as strong as I ever have and hope my leg can (literally) hang in there for July.
What has surprised you about the experience of being a stingray so far? Have you surprised yourself?
Brittany: The team vibe is so supportive and inclusive. Everyone believes in each other and we are all collectively behind one another. It surprised me how much I have improved form the start of the campaign, the Stingrays have shown me that I can play better than I ever thought I could.
Would you ever take the plunge and move to Sydney?
Mandy: Yeah but Wollongong is honestly the best. I wouldn't be where I am if I lived in Sydney and I am so grateful for the Gong fris community for all the love and support they always give me.
Brittany: No way, too many people
Erin: Big yes, anyone got a room going?
What would you be doing with all your time and money if you didn't give it all to ultimate?
Mandy: Probably would've bought a house by now.
Brittany: I would be boring and save up for a house.
Erin: Spending every minute playing some other sport I’m sure, but I don’t think I would possibly be having this much fun.
So which one’s better: Newcastle or Wollongong?
Erin: That’s like asking me to pick my favourite parent haha, I love them both. I bleed red though ;)
Shoutout someone you look up to in ultimate, then tell us why:
Mandy: Gemma Coleman #24 and Rosie Dawson #28 (please link their facebook pages). GC#24 was the first person to talk to me when I went to my first uni training and has been an inspiration ever since. She wrote an article once about how to be elite and that really resonated with me. RD#28 because she's RD#28. Go give them a like on facebook.
Brittany: It would definitely be Millie Crowe, for being my weekly throwing buddy, and always being there to talk to. Also Daisy Ewan for being my Gym buddy and keeping me motivated. I'm very lucky to have support from both of you.
Erin: Adelaide Dennis basically taught me how to play and I've always thought she's such an amazing player. She's so fast and I remember her coming straight from the gym to a scrimmage which I thought was dedication station back in 2015 hahaha. I love watching her play, but had to mark her a few weeks ago and it sucked, she's so good.