Athletics Spotlight: From “What If?” to “What’s Possible?"

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When you were growing up, did finances ever limit your pursuit of a hobby? A sport?
A dream?
Many of us have been there. We think back, as adults, and ask ourselves, “What if…?”

What if I had gotten that drum set when I was nine?

What if, in high school, I had joined the debate team? Or participated in a service learning opportunity?

What if I had been able to join a competitive sports team in college where I learned that “team” could be synonymous with “family?”

“What ifs” represent the key inflections of life. The experiences that could have been. The experiences that got away. The experiences that could have changed our life’s course. Could have changed the world.

Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Unfortunately, the source of many experiences is funding. But funding for these experiences is often limited, and students are left with either the bill or a life-long “what if?”

We think it’s time to change the narrative from, “what if?” to “what’s possible?”

My colleage, Paul Racz, USEED Director of Education, recently had the opportunity to work with a student who embodied this spirit. Her name is Bailey Bonaci and here’s her crowdfunding story.237af37

Bailey, a University of Washington senior, is preparing to graduate with her BS in Aerospace Engineering next month. During her college career, she interned for NASA, worked for Boeing, and co-captained her university’s Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team – a team she joined during her freshman year that became like family as she navigated her college career.

But in looking back on her experience with the Women’s Ultimate team, she remembers witnessing an inequity during her freshman year that she has not been able to shake since. A teammate – a top prospect for ultimate frisbee in the country – had to withdraw from the team due to trouble keeping up with the expenses.

As it turns out, ultimate frisbee – especially if you want to play at a competitive level – is expensive. The institution covers a portion of the cost, and then the players incur the outstanding expenses. Without further subsidizing the costs, the UW Women’s Ultimate team – and with it, life changing experiences – has been inaccessible for promising players.

So, as she prepares to leave the University of Washington, Bailey also wants to leave a legacy – the legacy of an inclusive, accessible Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. A team where finances are never a deterrent.

With Bailey leading the charge, UW Women’s Ultimate Frisbee launched their first ever crowdfunding campaign to help subsidize the cost to players for things like tournament entry fees, equipment, and travel expenses. While these are just “things” on paper, what they empower the individuals and the team to accomplish is more meaningful than they appear on the surface.

Listen for yourself:

I love how one of the players, Cami, put it:

“[Being on this team for four years] has really shaped me as a person and a player. It has taught me a lot about myself. About how to work as part of a team. About how to have difficult conversations with people. How to win together and lose together. It’s much more than just a ‘sports team.’ It’s really a family.”

Through Bailey, Cami, and the rest of their team’s passion for ensuring no team player gets left behind, UW Women’s Ultimate Frisbee rallied together – as a family – to raise over $10,000 in just 30 days. And while Cami noted that her team has learned how to lose together, we were honored to watch them win together – to witness the inception of a legacy.

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To Bailey and the UW Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team: Thank you for inspiring the USEED family.

You are creating a better world – one with greater empathy and kindness. A world with exponential possibilities for the people you touch.

A world with fewer “what ifs,” and a whole lot more “what’s possible?”

Interested in learning more? Let's talk