Throughout its relatively short history, the up-and-coming fast-paced sport of bicycle polo has typically been dominated in terms of participation by males.
Three local ladies are trying to change this reputation, but they need your help.
Led by Jennifer Kutzleb, a UC Davis graduate student in sociology, the Trixies are an all-female bike polo team that is fundraising online to travel to Toronto, Canada, to take part in Ladies Army, a women’s majority tournament.
“We’re obviously a bike polo team that loves to play bike polo, but the bigger mission that we have is to really advocate for woman in bike polo,” says the 33-year-old Kutzleb. “Women in bike polo are definitely a minority. There are a lot less women who are playing the sport. If you go to any of the big tournaments, there aren’t women’s divisions, they’re all-gender, but the majority of players are men.”
Kutzleb plays with teammates Christine “Tine Tine” Carrisosa and Jeanna “Mean Jean” Noricks, both of Sacramento.
Bicycle polo is a three-on-three sport played on a smooth surface like a tennis court where, like the “regular” version, players attempt to score goals by hitting a ball with a mallet into a designated area.
Unlike the more well-known version of the sport, though, bicycle polo is played on bikes rather than horses, and it is a challenge for all those who participate because it is illegal to put your feet down on the court; one must always be moving.
“Bike polo has a long history. There used to be a lot of grass polo back in the day, but there has been a resurgence in the last 10 years,” Kutzleb explains. “There’s still a pretty small community, but there are bike polo clubs across the world. You can probably find a bike polo club in every state.”
The Trixies hope to raise $4,000 to cover airfare, costs for shipping their bicycles, hotels, food and registration for the Toronto tournament. Boosted by local businesses such as Westlake Market and Sudwerk, the trio of female competitors has already met $1,185 of that goal.
According to Kutzleb, she plans to interview other female players at Ladies Army in pursuit of the eventual goal of writing of a free guidebook for bike polo clubs and the community to better encourage and support women players.
“I think that it’s important to support women in sports in general. Bike polo is a really small community of people and there are a lot of great opportunities there to shape where this sport is going,” Kutzleb says.
“I think one thing that’s really awesome is that, even a small team like the Trixies, we’re only three people, but we have a chance of really impacting this sport. I think that if we can actually come up with a good solution, this could be an amazing example of how we might be able to tackle other barriers women face in other sports.”
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam