Over this past winter break, William Smith junior Justine Shank, a member of the Heron squash team, was granted an opportunity to contribute to one of the nation’s fastest growing sports leagues, the Major League Ultimate (MLU), America and Canada’s professional ultimate Frisbee league. This summer, she will rejoin the MLU, working full time as an event coordinator.
Shank, a psychology major, with a triple minor in English, history, and media and society, worked last winter with the league as a media and sales intern, although she notes that she was able to get her feet wet in nearly every department.
“With the League growing more and more each year, working with the MLU could not have come at a more perfect time,” says Shank. “It’s cool knowing that I am helping contribute to what one day could be as popular as some of the other major sports leagues in the country.”
While the bulk of her time was spent conducting sponsorship pitches to potential corporate partners, running the league’s Instagram account, and taking on a wide-range of game day responsibilities, Shank’s most fulfilling accomplishment was organizing a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The hometown Philadelphia Spinners and staff members from the league headquarters took a trip to the hospital and visited with children for the day.
“Being able to plan and coordinate a visit with CHOP was a great experience,” Shank recalls. “It was a heartwarming experience that I’ll always be very proud of.”
Shank developed an interest in ultimate frisbee during her senior year of high school, taking up the sport with a few of her close friends. As a first-year student at HWS, Shank joined the school’s club team and during the summer of her sophomore year she joined a Philadelphia summer league through The Philadelphia Disc Alliance. It was through this experience that she was able to find out about opportunities with the MLU.
Her passion for the sports industry started at a young age. She recalls going to sporting events with her father and taking notice of not only the spectacle on the field, but everything else going on surrounding the event.
“Similar to the way movie sets are created, everything on game day is thought out and placed in a particular place,” Shank explains. Every sign in a stadium for example involves a number of people working to get it there. There’s a sales person who closed the sponsorship deal, the graphic designer that made the sign, the stadium director who approves its location, and the workers who made sure the sign goes up. All of these different groups of people have to work together to make it happen.”
Shank is a member of the William Smith squash team. She played in 11 matches this winter, posting an 8-3 overall record. Shank rounded out the season winning eight of her final 10 matches. She has played in 48 career matches with the Herons, posting a 28-20 overall record.
Shank also had the opportunity tostudy abroad in Hong Kong last semester. While abroad, she was able to get involved The Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association and competed in ultimate tournaments in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and the Philippines.
Heading into its fourth season, MLU consists of eight teams and is headquartered in Philadelphia.