Laurel Oldershaw is the founder and CEO of Upwind Ultimate. Founded in July 2017, Upwind Ultimate works to increase the value of women in Ultimate. The organisation is currently undertaking a tour of the US and Canada, the Crosswind Tour, to play, discuss and celebrate Ultimate.
To mark the partnership between TOKAY and Upwind Ultimate, we caught up with Laurel between Montreal and Burlington to discuss the start, present and future of her exciting, young company.
What led you to founding Upwind Ultimate?
It was a few years ago that I started looking at what would it take to build a women’s professional league. In undergrad, I had studied Education and Community Health so I understood the social importance of empowering women and nonbinary folks, although I didn’t have the business or technical knowledge to support it. I then got my Masters in Business Administration at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to dive into these questions more in depth.
I founded Upwind to be a for-profit company that aggressively invests in women, nonbinary, and Trans folks in ultimate since that’s the definition of gender equity. It’s the acknowledgement that some groups (women, nonbinary, and Trans folks) have had a lack to resources, opportunity, and power based on their gender & gender identity, and so we have to provide an imbalance of resources to support those groups that need it.
You can check out more resources on our website: www.upwindultimate.com/learn
What are the current activities Upwind Ultimate is involved in?
This first year, we’ve established a newsletter (The Current), as well as hosted our first online courses, Upwind Academy, and are right now on a 40+ city tour across the US and Canada called The Crosswind Tour.
We’re also working with different companies that are either women-run or have good values, such as TOKAY, to create an economic network that supports and funds a better future in a capitalist world.
The Madison, Wisconsin stop of The Crosswind Tour.
With 116 people in attendance, this is the tour’s most well attended event yet.
Upwind Ultimate, like TOKAY Ultimate, is quite a young company. What have been some of your greatest successes, most euphoric and most educational moments so far?
This past year, we did a poster campaign with some top US players (Opi Payne, Lien Hoffman, Kami Groom, Robyn Wiseman, Georgia Bosscher, and the talented World Games players from Vancouver Traffic), which was super successful and an awesome way to start. We’ll be continuing that this upcoming season with even more posters and I can’t wait for those to drop!
Upwind Poster with the Canadian World Games players from Vancouver Traffic
The most educational moments for myself would have to be the business side of things, which this is still very much my rookie year in the sports business. I have a personal background in coaching and writing and so to develop a business has been entirely out of my setting, but also very rewarding!
What are your goals for Upwind Ultimate?
Upwind’s short term goals are to make sure we are all on the same page when we talk about equity. Right now, the equity movement in ultimate has been primarily hosted in the US or online, and we’ve all been using different definitions of equity. The point of The Crosswind Tour is for communities to practice using these conversations themselves and exploring what we can specifically do next to bring equity to our community, especially for those who support the cause but don’t know how to engage.
Long-term, Upwind will continue to economically empower women, Trans, and nonbinary folks to thrive in ultimate and in business. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date as we release that new strategy moving forward!
Laurel, thank you so much for your time!
TOKAY Ultimate is incredibly excited to be partnering with Upwind Ultimate.
Check out all of the incredible work Laurel and Upwind are doing by following the links below. And don’t forget to order your TOKAY cleats with the coupon code UPWIND10 to directly support Upwind Ultimate and yourself with a 10% discount.