News

Campus Rec Student Employee Competes on USA National Ultimate Frisbee Team
Author: Grace Lamb, Campus Recreation
Posted: April 30, 2019

Shea Brennan photoLike many others, Shea Brennan was captivated by Portland’s green space, lively urban environment, and friendly locals. Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Shea enjoyed playing soccer in high school and went through a self-proclaimed ‘yoga phase,’ which was what originally drew her to Portland State’s pre-naturopathic medicine track. Once she chose to attend Portland State, it took Shea a little while to find a major that was the best fit for her interests and natural abilities. She settled on mathematics and has not looked back. She will be graduating in the spring of 2019.

Shea’s early history with ultimate did not begin with outright passion. Her parents played the sport when she was growing up, and at first, she thought it was a “very dumb-looking” sport. It wasn’t until college that things clicked. She longed for that team sports energy that she had experienced with high school soccer. Not long after her arrival in Portland, Shea searched for ways to get connected with the Portland State community, and joined Campus Rec’s Ultimate Frisbee Rec Club. She remembers her first ultimate practice like it was yesterday.

“Ultimate [Rec Club] met on Mondays at 4:30 p.m. and I went and had a great time, and never ended up going to the soccer club,” said Shea. “That’s when I chose ultimate.”

Ultimate is a self-officiated sport, which makes the players accountable. This process is called the ‘Spirit of the Game.’ For Shea, this is the best part of the game because only players with good spirit and attitude can do well in the sport. She described the culture and energy of ultimate as unique, adding that, “there is endless heckling, but it’s always positive.”

After getting into the groove of school and the Ultimate Rec Club, Shea talked with friends who had jobs at Campus Rec and realized that working with the Intramurals department would be a win-win situation─ she would get to be involved with officiating sports and would get paid to do it! After working as an Intramural Sports Official for a year, Shea became the Rec Clubs and Intramurals Student Coordinator and enjoyed watching the Rec Clubs office bring all sorts of people together.

“You’ve got athletes coming in, and people who just want to play FIFA soccer on TV and have never been to the Rec Center before for anything besides video games,” said Shea.

Portland State’s unique environment has invigorated Shea and made her feel right at home. She has had the opportunity to work alongside Campus Rec’s professional staff, which has helped her to learn more about the different aspects of campus and what they can offer to students and staff.

During her time at Portland State, Shea has become enthusiastically devoted to ultimate frisbee. Through her engagement with the ultimate community, both on- and off-campus, she has met people from all over Portland and all over the world. Despite the players’ diverse backgrounds, Shea describes how, “everyone has a very similar outlook and joy for the game. The spirit of the game brings everyone together in a way that’s unique from any other sport [she has] played.” Shea has also found that the sport has promoted gender equality by having many mixed gender teams ─ even at the professional level.

Every two years, the best college-age ultimate players from around the world compete in the World Flying Disc Federation’s World Under-24 (U-24) Ultimate Championships. More than 550 athletes applied to be considered for the three U.S. National Teams – men’s, women’s and mixed. Tryout invitations were extended to 100 men and 100 women, and 74 were named to the 2019 National Team rosters to represent the United States. Shea describes the moment that she found out she was selected for the team as ‘surreal.’

This July, Shea will compete on the U-24 Women’s National Ultimate Team during the U-24 International Championships in Heidelberg, Germany. Before heading to Germany, the team will train for a weekend in Colorado. A few weeks leading up to the championship, the U-24 Women’s Team will train and prepare with other teams in Külsheim, Germany. They will play one or two games per day until the bracket games, and the winners of the bracket games will play during the final championship game.

Portland State University and Campus Rec have helped shape Shea as an athlete, a leader and a scholar: “I love the community because it promotes student success holistically,” Shea said. While a career in mathematics is not off the table, Shea wants to continue her passionate pursuit of ultimate frisbee. In 2019, the first women’s professional ultimate team was created. Being on this team would be Shea’s dream. Her rise in the sport has been anything but seamless, but her spirit for the game will keep her going.

For more information on the World Flying Disc Federation’s World Under-24 (U-24) Ultimate Championships, visit nationalteam.usaultimate.org/u24.