The FlameThrowers are excited to announce our first female athlete signing on for the 2018 season: Jackelyne Nguyen, better known as Kobe!
This all-star has served as captain for Cal Berkeley’s Pie Queens, won the Friction Gloves Catch of the Week and Catch of the Month on two separate occasions, and is often compared to fellow Nightlock teammate and elite athlete Marisa Rafter. An unstoppable athlete on both offense and defense, she has helped the Pie Queens to two ninth place finishes at college nationals so far after four straight years without an appearance at the tournament. She has previously competed with Los Angeles Viva as well as San Francisco Nightlock. This past season, the Los Angeles native led Cal in both goals and assists at college nationals and then added another eight goals for Nightlock at club nationals this summer.
Kobe is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering and working on the side at a tech start-up in product design and testing. We asked her a few questions so her new fans could get to know her before the season starts!
How did you first discover ultimate? Did you play any other sports?
In high school I only first heard of it when I had it as a recreational camp activity at a summer camp. I played basketball really competitively in high school, and was even part of the team to turn our team around and reach the state championships after a dry run of 20 years. Coming to Cal, I still wanted to play basketball and also pursue academics, so I wanted to play on a Club team. They don't have club basketball at Cal, but I still wanted to play a team sport so I was deciding between rugby and ultimate. Logistically, the Pie Queens had their practice first, and after going to the first practice I wouldn't have dared to leave after meeting all of these welcoming people willing to put up with my terrible throws.
What influenced your decision to try out for the FlameThrowers?
Given all the recent chatter about equity in ultimate, I figured I should just give it shot. Although no one really knows the right answer to solve this problem, the more exposure to women's ultimate, the better. People need to see that women can also be athletic and make plays as well as anyone in the game.
How does it feel to be a professional athlete?
It hasn't really sunk in. When I was emailed my contract it felt like a dream as I literally get to be paid for one of my passions and also be part of a growing movement towards equity in ultimate. At least when I'm older I can tell my kids I was a pro athlete at some point in my life.
Do you have any personal goals for this season?
I honestly just want to play my best and be able to showcase women's ultimate in the best way possible.
Will you be playing with any other teams this spring / summer? If so, which teams?
Pie Queens until end of May, then Nightlock this summer.
What's your favorite throw?
What's something you'd like your future teammates to know about you?
I enjoy picking up random hobbies to do when I'm not playing ultimate: juggling, cup stacking, puzzles, etc.
What is your current pregame pump up song?
"Close your Eyes" by Run the Jewels.
Can you tell us a personal highlight from last year?
Pie Queens went to college Nationals last year and played UNC in pool play. We reached a lull in our game, going down a break. I realized it was all or nothing at this point because without winning this game, there was a very likely chance we would be kicked out of the championship bracket. The point starts and UNC puts on a zone and after a few passes transitions to person defense. Seeing this opportunity as my teammate gets it upline, I streak deep and she puts it out way in front of me. I knew I had to catch it. I reach out and jump to catch the disc for the score, and our team's energy and focus is back in the game, and in the end we won.
Here's video of that catch:
What would you like to tell fans attending your upcoming games?
I am PUMPED to have this opportunity! My love for ultimate started in the Bay Area and I'm excited I can play at this platform.