We had the good fortune of connecting with Felicia Yang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Felicia, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind the success of our brand is the way in which we engage with our community. Astra was founded on values of gender equity and promoting women in sports. While doing that, we believe we can benefit other marginalized groups regardless of whether they are underserved based on gender identity, sexuality, race, or socioeconomic status. We aim to be an equitable company in how we operate and engage with everyone around us. We hope to have a positive impact on our fans, our players, our community, and our society. We are building this team on a platform of lifting up women in sports, and using the benefits and engagement of sports to drive social good. We hope to live our core values in a meaningful and authentic way, and we believe that doing so will draw a community of fans who feel safety and belonging with our team.
What should our readers know about your business?
Los Angeles Astra is a professional women’s ultimate frisbee team. We’re part of a new pro women’s league featuring teams from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona and Utah. We’re only the 2nd professional women’s sports team in Los Angeles (the other being the LA Sparks, and of course Angel City will be launching in 2022). Our team started when I decided to organize a showcase series in 2019. I organized teams in Los Angeles and San Diego, we played against each other, and we invited a team from Seattle to come play against us. In this formational stage we were met with a lot of skepticism around the feasibility and challenges of creating a professional women’s ultimate team in LA. Concerns ranged from “It’s not going to be perfect” to “Now is not the right time” to “What if we suck against Seattle?” to “No one wants to watch women’s sports.” Well, I went ahead with these games and while they weren’t perfect, they certainly served as proof of concept that there is plenty of talent in LA, we could hold our own against Seattle, and there was a desire from fans to see more. Between live audiences and online views of our games, we reached nearly 2000 people. In the fall of 2019 I brought on 2 additional co-founders, Jessica Creamer and Adair Johnson, and we decided to make it official and invite more teams into a new professional league.
While our inaugural 2020 season was canceled by Covid, I’ve taken from this experience so much inspiration in seeing how communities across the West share Astra’s desire to celebrate amazing women athletes in ultimate frisbee. I’ve learned that just a few committed, resilient people can change the conversation around what’s possible, and finding those key allies who are willing to do the work with me to bring this vision to life has been critical and indispensable. I want people to know that we are not going away. Women have long been overlooked in sports, as well as in other industries, and it’s long overdue for that to change. Los Angeles Astra and the Western Ultimate League are here to highlight women and nonbinary athletes. We’re here to give back to our communities and reach historically marginalized populations. We’re here to create an amazing, fun gameday experience and a welcoming community around our team. Join us. Watch us. Believe in us. And be prepared to be blown away by what we can do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite thing about Los Angeles is the diversity and authenticity of food options available. Here are the first 10 places and dishes that came to mind. Greek: Aliki’s Greek Taverna (Westchester). Gyro wrap with lemon potatoes.
Vietnamese: Saigon Dish (Hawthorne). Brisket pho.
Thai: Ayara Thai (Westchester). Khao soi.
Cheese: Lady & Larder (Culver City). Cheese & cured meat board.
Coffee: Two Guns Kitchen (El Segundo). Oat milk latte.
Japanese: Tsujita (Sawtelle). Ajitama tsukemen.
Italian: Jame Enoteca (El Segundo). Spicy rigatoni alla vodka.
Salvadoran: El Cerro Verde Pupuseria (Hawthorne). Pupusas revueltas.
Indian: Tandoor-A-India (Playa del Rey). Saag paneer.
Chinese: Mama Lu’s Dumpling House (Monterey Park). Chive fried pancake.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A breakthrough moment occurred for me in the summer of 2019 when I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta to play in the Color of Ultimate showcase game, organized by Project Diversity. I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the people who made this event happen and invited me to be a part of it. This game was a landmark event in displaying the racial diversity and talent in a sport that is largely white and privileged, and was an experience defined by inclusivity and belonging that I didn’t even realize had been missing in this sport. In addition, this was one of the first opportunities I had to play in a filmed showcase game. Getting a taste of the representation and visibility that was afforded by participating in this event showed me how important it was to create these opportunities for others, and made me feel first hand how empowering a professional stage can be for women and nonbinary athletes in our sport. We’ve been overlooked in sports in general but also in our community where a professional men’s league has existed for nearly a decade. In a sport that preaches mutual respect and camaraderie, there was clearly something missing if only half of my peers had more opportunities to play, more resources to play, bigger platforms to be seen and recognized for their talents and hard work. Realizing that I was left out of that progress because of my gender, and experiencing the thrilling environment, empowering representation, and increased visibility of playing in the Color of Ultimate showcase game pushed me to commit to creating Astra as a part of the Western Ultimate League.
Tino Tran (personal photo) Meg Hofner (team photos) Ivana Monson (design)