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Push for More Women in Bike Polo
When Jennifer Kutzleb started playing bike polo in 2013, she was the only woman in her club.
While the fast-paced game is rapidly gaining in popularity, Kutzleb discovered quickly that women are dramatically underrepresented in the "all-gender sport." So, this spring, the Davis, Calif., resident hooked up with two other female players from the Golden State to form The Trixies. Their goal isn't just to put points on the board — but to change who's on the court.
In this guest blog, Kutzleb shares their vision and efforts to break down barriers for women in bike polo.
The Trixies, an all-women bike polo team from California, want to create a more inclusive bike polo community. We originally formed the team to compete at Ladies Army, a women’s majority tournament held in Toronto, Canada in June of 2014, but we morphed into a team dedicated to women’s advocacy in bike polo and the wider biking community. By developing resources and special events, we hope to break down barriers to women’s participation in this growing all-gender sport.
Bicycle polo infuses cycling with the basic principles of hardcourt hockey. Two teams with three players each attempt to be the first to score five points in a 12-minute game. Instead of hockey sticks, players use mallets that allow them to maneuver and hit the ball to score. If a player touches the ground with their foot, they must tap one of the walls at the center of the court with their mallet to re-enter the game.
Although bike polo is an all-gender sport, women are a minority. Some city clubs don’t have any women players at all and we want to change that. We know the bike polo community can be a positive space for women because it challenges us to build new skills and strengths as athletes. Women also learn how to maintain their own bikes and equipment, an essential skill in polo as a crash can quickly untrue a wheel or tweak a brake.
When I teamed up Christine Carrisosa and Jean Noricks from Sacramento in December 2013, we were the only three women between our two clubs. We wanted more women playing polo so we started hosting beginner women practices. We were stoked to see a big jump in women participants. As momentum built, we decided to host a women’s majority tournament in April 2014 called the California Ladies Bike Polo Summit, which drew women from around the world and gave local women a chance to network and play bike polo.
To continue that momentum, we're looking to the wider biking community for inspiration and encouragement in women’s advocacy. From this inspiration came our current project: a guidebook to help bike polo clubs and the community better understand the barriers women face in bike polo and to suggest ways to engage and support women players. This guidebook is based on interviews with other women bike polo players.
We're are also planning to create a website and blog focused on women’s advocacy in bike polo. This fall, we'll also organize another women’s majority tournament and host the first-ever training camp for women focused on drills and skill-building to increase women's competitive edge in bike polo. Long-term, we plan to reach out to the wider women’s advocacy networks in the biking community to tap into existing resources and knowledge, and bring the biking and bike polo communities together.
Learn more and support the Trixies at www.thetrixies.com.