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The Female Flyer

 

 

Go to any Flyers practice or scrimmage and you’ll notice a player rocking a face mask along with a Phoenix Women’s Ultimate jersey. Lyra Olson has been practicing with the Flyers since she was given a spot as a practice player following the 2017 combine in January. For a player who has often relied on her speed and athleticism, practicing with an AUDL team has introduced new challenges for Lyra. “Having that advantage completely disappear is showing me the many technical holes in my game,” commented Lyra, “I’m learning to be smarter with my footwork on defense and how to set up my cuts to be more effective on offense.”

 

 

Lyra is one of many great female athletes competing in North Carolina, but her background as a player is rooted in her years playing for Princeton Clockwork and in Mercer County Ultimate Disc League (MCUDL) in New Jersey. “My dad played ultimate for Princeton during his undergrad years and has continued to play pick up and occasional tourneys” said Lyra. She grew up reading discs upwind on the and throwing them back downwind on the beach “To this day, throwing with my dad is my favorite activity in the world.”

 

The story of Lyra’s mask came from her freshman year playing at Princeton. Before college Lyra had played mostly league and pickup games organized by MCUDL. At Princeton she found a team that “had my back through anything.” The family Lyra found at Princeton got her through a very serious transformative injury. “I had a fight with a bathroom sink that left me very concussed and with a lot of damage to my face and jaw” said Lyra, “For weeks after the accident, my teammates walked me to all my classes, studied with me every night, and made sure I was able to cope so that I could finish the term.” It was through her teammates’ dedication to her when she needed them the most that Lyra found her passion for the game and the athletes who played it. “There’s nothing I could do to repay that sort of love, so dedicated myself completely to the team and the sport.”

 

It was also the beginning for Lyra’s trademark face mask to protect her broken jaw and teeth. The mask became part of how Lyra motivated herself to become a better player. “I felt pretty embarrassed to be a clueless rookie with poor body control who was also in an ultra-ridiculous face mask” reflected Lyra, “I wanted to be good enough that I “deserved” to wear the mask.” Now, whenever you see Lyra playing you almost never see her without it. It is the trademark thing you see when you play against Raleigh’s elite women’s club team Phoenix and for Lyra it’s a point of pride. “I think the mask is a bit intimidating to folks that don’t know me.”

For Lyra, commitment, to the game and to her teammates, is more than just a buzzword to lean on during the season. It is the best way to train for and play the game. There are certain players in ultimate who inspire their teammates through the force of their personality and will as much as through their talent.  Coming out to every practice and showing up for your teammates is a way life. It’s a means of self improvement and makes a program better. Lyra’s approach to the game outside of North Carolina was defined by her total commitment to her teammates. “Clockwork’s success was built on the trust we have for each other. Green Mean’s Go [Philadelphia’s elite women’s club team] thrived through loving the work it took to succeed” said Lyra, “Success follows when teammates believes in each other completely and are hungry enough to train like animals.”

 

Lyra’s commitment to her teammates and the game paid off ultimately with a spot on the USA Women’s team competing in the U23 World Championships in 2015. Lyra continued her spate playing elite ultimate with Raleigh Phoenix. Her approach to the game has never changed and showed during her tryout with the Raleigh Flyers. “I want to be the best player in the world. I think most players at the elite level share that drive, which makes it so freaking fun to train and play against one another.”

 

This Saturday is about recognizing the contributions, achievements and personalities who make compete in the Women’s and Girl’s division across North Carolina. Lyra is just one of many great athletes who competes in the triangle, and not the first female ultimate player to compete with the Flyers. In 2015, Raleigh Phoenix captain Jessi Jones took the field with the Flyers to compete against the Nashville Nightwatch. Jesse Shofner (former University of Oregon, DC Scandal) was the first female player to ever be signed by an AUDL team in 2017. Saturday is much more than just another professional ultimate game. It is an opportunity to recognize and support the female athletes who pour a tremendous amount of time, passion and commitment into the game. Pre-game activities include an exclusively women’s pickup game, the halftime performance by Kaylin Roberson and a showcase will feature Warhawks, the triangle’s girl’s U-19 Youth Club Championship team. 

Lyra celebrates Green Means Go’s qualification for the 2015 Club Championships.

Photos courtesy of Alex Kaja, Brian Canniff and Ultiphotos.

June 8, 2017 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Female Flyer

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