A fugue is a composed piece of music in which a singer is introduced and then followed by other voices to pick up melodies and harmonies, combining into a beautiful piece of art. In a way, Fugue Ultimate Frisbee, a UO womxn’s club frisbee team, does this as well. The team is made up of athletes determined to stay tight-knit during COVID-19. Although their practices and games have unprecedented rules, team members hope that everything will blend into the perfect melody — with more team bonding and traveling to tournaments — when the pandemic is over.
Several team members have played on the team since they started at UO. “I went to one practice before I enrolled in the university and we just clicked so well,” said fourth-year Rachel Hess. Hess has been playing Ultimate since she was a sophomore in high school.
“I just really like being surrounded by like-minded, competitive athletes. We got a sweet group,” she said. Fugue practices three times a week, and during non-COVID-19 times the team likes to kick it outside of practice as well.
Second-year Carmen Resnick also played frisbee in high school. She was drawn to UO in part because of Fugue. Her favorite part of being on the team is her teammates.
“Everyone on the team is super driven and super intelligent, even outside of frisbee they’re all really cool people,” she said.
When COVID-19 hit last March, the game of ultimate changed. “We’re not allowed to play with defense, so you can’t put a mark on someone,” Resnick said. Players are expected to maintain the standard six feet of social distance while playing, which is why defense is a no-go. This new rule coupled with hand sanitization and wearing masks while playing makes ultimate frisbee safer to play during COVID-19.
Although Fugue has done its best to continue frisbee during COVID-19, some things were bound to change. “I think that there were a lot of Fugue traditions that we just don’t know about because we never got to that point,” Resnick said. “There were secret traditions for when Fugue goes to nationals and throughout the year.” The team hasn’t been able to take trips this year like they usually do. In the past, they have traveled to places like San Diego and Seattle for tournaments.
COVID-19 has ruled out the possibility of tournaments and nationals, but the team is still happy to be practicing together. “A lot of teams across the country haven’t been meeting at all during this time,” Hess said. “I have a lot of gratitude towards my teammates for sticking it out and taking the perspective of ‘at least we have something.’”
This ‘something’ has helped players cope with a tumultuous pandemic year. Hess relates to the stress many have complained about during COVID-19. “Just being inside all the time, spending long hours on Zoom, at a desk, talking to people who are on a computer screen, it’s very distancing and not very engaging,” she said. Hess isn’t a texter and doesn’t love social media.
“I get a lot of satisfaction and gratitude from hanging out and being around people, even if I’m not talking to them. Even if we’re just running together in total silence,” she said. Fugue practices have been a great place for her to go during the pandemic. “It’s just so nice to have three days a week where you’re around other people and you’re just moving around,” she said.
Resnick shares similar sentiments to her teammate. “I think COVID makes it much more exciting to go out and actually run around with the team,” Resnick said. “At the beginning of COVID and over the summer I was like, I can’t wait to have a reason to actually go outside again.” Resnick finds it easier to commit to exercise when she is with other people, so practice with her team is the perfect outlet.
The community aspect of Fugue extends way beyond UO, even though that’s where the team is based. There are alumni all across the state and country who come back to visit the current team during tournaments. Hess said that they’ve been able to maintain a sense of community through COVID-19, but not getting to go to tournaments is hard.
Despite this year’s challenges, the athletes of Fugue have a bright future to look forward to. They have worked hard all year and have a leg up on their competition who hasn’t been practicing, Hess said. “I feel like if we can make it through this weird time we can really make it through anything,” Hess said.