VC is proud to have recently outfitted the Madison MUFABots! The teams travelled from Wisconsin to Minnesota for the 2021 USA Ultimate US Open Championships (also known by the tournament’s youth division name of “YCC”).
“We were very excited when the design request came in”, says Kristina Kuronen, our VC team member working with MUFABots during the design process and team store setup. “Word spread around the company about how awesome their concept idea was and [VC lead creative designer] Marijo nailed it.”
Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association’s Youth Chair, Sara Lazeby (@theyouthchair on Twitter), introduced us to Ben Baird, one of the program’s Spirit Captains for 2021, to tell us more about the MUFABots program, and their great uniform designs.
You can get your own MUFABots team apparel in their team store until August 19th, 2021. Check it out!
VC: Hi Ben! Tell us a bit about your team history/culture/vibe).
Ben Baird (BB): The Madison MUFABots is one of the premier youth programs in the greater Madison area. This year, we have a U20 and a U17 Boys team as well as a U20 Mixed team. My name is Ben, I'm one of the spirit captains on the u20 Mixed team this year. The u20 Mixed team has always been about supporting our teammates with a heavy emphasis on team bonding and developing the Madison youth ultimate community.
One of the coolest things that the MUFAbots do is a "buddy" system. The captains divide the team into groups of three to four people that you are meant to look out for on and off the field (I text my buddies good night every night 😋). The buddy system allows you to meet new people that you may have not have known well before playing on the team with them. It brings the whole team closer together and creates a team culture of open-mindedness and a sense that you can rely on your teammates if you ever need to mentally check in with your buddies and ask "is everything going okay" or "is there anything I can do to help" and I'm proud of our team for being there for each other.
VC: How did you come up with the concept behind this year’s jerseys? What discussions or inspirations influenced your decision of a Pride theme?
BB: I first had the idea in June because of the conversations that were happening all around the world about Pride Month and the importance of representation and recognizing the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I thought back to all the great things I learned in my Gender Studies class (thanks Ms. Miller!). I'm a heterosexual cis-gendered half-white male. I could never even begin to understand the struggle that community goes through.
It's my responsibility to use my voice to at least try and advocate for the community. I realized one of the times I had to try and advocate for this community was when I had heard a rumor that took place in our own community.
A large group of people had left the team and joined a different city's team because they refused to play with a coach who was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. When I heard this I was shocked and mortified. Not only are the actions of the players completely unjustifiable but it was just so shocking to hear that this took place in our very own community. We need to be better.
I wanted the pride flags to be represented on the jerseys to let everyone know that we are a team that will stand by our values. We want to give everybody a chance to play and feel welcome in this sport without having to worry about race, gender, or sexual orientation.
VC: As a team, do you discuss your values? Any tips for helping teammates understand the concepts you’re talking about?
BB: As a team, we love having conversations especially about these jerseys and what they mean to us. To my teammates and I, these jerseys not only represent pride but also represent spirit. Spirit to me is respecting your teammates and opponents and treating them how you would want to be treated. I will gladly wear this jersey for my teammates and opponents that are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community because that's the respect that Ultimate brings to everyone playing the sport.
When a couple of teammates and I went to have a discussion with the younger U17 team we emphasized the fact that the jerseys are meant to be a sign of hope for people that may feel excluded from the sport because of their sexual orientation and how we want nobody to feel excluded from this great sport. I'm proud of our program for taking such a progressive step.
I'm also honored to talk and have discussions about it with my teammates and future MUFAbots!
VC appreciates the opportunity to work with teams that share our values, and we want to thank Ben and Sara for trusting us to be part of their 2021 season! Thank you to Denise Kainz for the awesome photos.