It seems fitting that the theme for Bush this year is joy – an emotion that is emulated this fall around the Blazer athletic department and on the sidelines. Four Bush alumni are in coaching roles, all with the collective goal to embrace being back and having some fun.
“Kids have fun when you're having fun, and I feel like we have a lot of fun together,” Boys Ultimate Frisbee Head Coach Meg Manning '17 said.
Along with Meg, Ryan Ressmeyer '17 is serving as the Assistant Coach for the Varsity Boys Ultimate team, while Emma Dubery '15 and Amelia Wells '14 are Assistant Coaches for the Varsity Girls Soccer team under Head Coach Marcelino Dumpit Jr . Get to know the four below.
Meg and Ryan share similar paths in Ultimate. Both a part of the Bush Ultimate Girls and Boys programs since their Ninth Grade year – Ryan even serving as the girls team manager his senior year – the two pursued the game at the collegiate level; Meg attending Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, while Ryan went to Stanford, each playing for their school club team. With the pandemic wiping out a portion of their in-person college experience, Meg said there was still a strong desire to keep Ultimate in her life after graduating in 2021.
“I just wanted to be outside and do the things I love and Ultimate has always been that thing,” Meg said.
Last spring when Meg moved back to Seattle, she connected with the Girls Varsity Ultimate Head Coach, Kate Kingery, about any opportunities to become involved with the sport. She served as an assistant for the Bush girls team and when Kate stepped down as the Boys Varsity Head Coach, Meg took over the helm of the boys team. Meg, who is in her first year working at Bush as the Upper School Coordinator of College Counseling and Student Success, explained that as she was assembling her coaching staff for the season, she immediately reached out to Ryan, who was back in Seattle, to see if he was interested in coaching.
“When Meg said there's an opening, there was no hesitation,” Ryan said. “I missed having one foot in Ultimate, and the sport is a great way to clear my head, plus it’s so rewarding.”
So far this season, Meg and Ryan, along with Bush Lower School Teaching Assistant Abigail Bidegain, who is an assistant coach, have guided the team to a 4-6 record with a number of close games. Meg explained Ryan’s coaching style is very realistic and able to help the student-athletes understand what it takes to reach their goals.
“We see eye-to-eye on a lot of Frisbee,” Ryan said. “I think the biggest thing is just to have an extra person to bounce ideas off of, like how do we come at this problem? As an assistant coach, I’m really grateful for Meg.”
With ten seniors on the team, the two said they hope to see many continue with the sport when they graduate.
“I hope all of them want to play Ultimate in college,” Meg said. “I want them to come away and know themselves as players, know their teammates, and know how to take that to college. I would love to see them own what they've done here at Bush.”
As life-long students of the game themselves, Meg and Ryan share a love for Ultimate that transcends beyond the playing field, and is something they hope they’ve instilled in the players.
“This is a group of seniors that really really cares about the sport and about trying their hardest and that's really the best thing we can ask for,” Ryan said. “What I really want is for these seniors to feel like they had an impact on the season and they were able to make it successful through their hard work. That’s why I’m coaching.”
Making an Impact
From a young age, Emma and Amelia were kicking a soccer ball around. The two grew up with the game– Amelia playing in the recreation league at Magnolia, while Emma started earlier in Lil’ Kickers. Both played club soccer and were four year varsity players at Bush. Amelia, who graduated from Whitman College, joined the Bush soccer staff midway through the fall of 2018. She's been with the Girls Varsity team since, and helped coach on the Boys State Championship team last spring.
“Marcelino [the Blazers Boys and Girls Varsity Soccer Head Coach] over the years would text me once and awhile, ‘Want to come coach soccer?’ And I finally took him up on the offer,” Amelia said.
Emma, who is the Annual Giving Manager at Bush, started coaching this year after much persistence from Athletic Director Jo Ito and Marcelino last year. Amelia and Emma said the game of soccer has played a pivotal role in their lives, so coming back and coaching at Bush was an easy decision.
“It’s been really fun to relive stuff, and honestly, it can be a little nostalgic,” Amelia said. “The reason why I loved soccer was being part of a team, and being able to be a part of a team again is really fun. Bush soccer was such a prominent part of my high school experience here.”
For Emma, the chance to give back and be a role model for the students was a big reason she wanted to coach.
“There aren’t that many female-identifying coaches in general in sports, and it’s exciting it’s a growing trend in soccer,” Emma said. “It’s nice to help be part of the tide of women getting into coaching. Also, because to some degree we understand what it’s like for the students right now; we know what the pressures are like, we know the grind, I think it’s been nice to build trust with them, too.”
The two explained their positive time on the Bush team and being coached by Marcelino was another reason why they wanted to coach.
“It sounds cheesy, but this team is like a family,” Amelia said. “Marcelino really knows what he’s doing and makes you feel a part of his life.”
About two months in, Amelia and Emma have been able to carve out their roles as coaches, helping a young but talented team figure out their style of play. As of Friday, October 14, the Blazers have a 3-5-2 record.
“I think the upper players have really stepped up and taken a great leadership role, and the young players have also jumped in head first,” Amelia said. “In terms of the season, I think we’re gelling as a team.”
Despite the wins and losses, like Meg and Ryan, Ameila and Emma’s ultimate goal is for the students to enjoy the experience.
“I want people to have fun,” Emma said. “Yes, the goal is to be competitive and to put on the best showing that we can, but for me it’s also, let’s make sure they are learning how to build trust with each other, have fun, and learn the values of the program and live that everyday.”
-by Mary Albl, Communications Manager