ODSA 2009 AGM

Today I headed to the ODSA AGM held in Toronto for what was expected to be a very interesting AGM.  Parts of this post are written while I was at the AGM so there will be a changes in tense as you read on.

A bit of background (I can chat about this because it’s public) on why it’s interesting is that there is general discontent amongst Ultimate clubs in Ontario with ODSA’s governing body (board and Executive Director).  The larger clubs in Ontario are not content with the leadership and recent events regarding the 2009 Ultimate Championships pushed more Ultimate clubs towards leaving ODSA.

Within ODSA Disc Golf is disproportionately represented and Disc Golfers are “well taken care of”.  This is not due to some imbalance or favoritism over time but rather a lack of action by Ultimate clubs to elect members or represent themselves at AGMs in the past.  This year Ultimate players are out in force to voice their opinions and ensure that Ultimate interests are well represented.

Going in I wasn’t sure if Disc Golf players were aware of the issues surrounding the largest and most active sport within the organization or the concerns that some clubs had with the Executive Directory (Chris Lowcock).

It was also very interesting to see the organization of clubs in Ontario in relation to WODS.  WODS is one of the few Disc Sports club as opposed to most clubs which are either Ultimate or Disc Golf specific.  Our interests are to support general sports development and we’ve done very well in both areas by building out a large league program as well as assisting Liquid when it was first starting out.  WODS continues to develop and assist new competitive and touring teams in Waterloo Region.  On the Disc Golf side WODS has contributed significantly to the new Chicopee Disc Golf course.  We’ve also played Goaltimate (and continue to do so time to time) in the past and are working towards a Double Disc Court tournament (when we get a free weekend).  Freestyle will eventually get going here once I get decent at it.

Other organizations simply do not work with multiple sports or provide the opportunity to crossover.  Within WODS we can easily empathize with all players and disc sports players.  There is tension in the room as Ultimate teams wait patiently to voice their needs.  The Disc Golf players do not seem aware of what may soon happen.

So what may happen soon?  Going into the meeting it was tough to say.  In fact many Ultimate clubs in Ontario didn’t know until recently that there was discontent amongst the larger clubs.  Not all clubs are associated with touring level Ultimate and as such do not have the same competitive level concerns that the big clubs in Ontario have.

When there’s tension in a room it has a way of bubbling up from time to time.  The first moment was when a review of Chris Lowcock’s performance came out and the first salvo was fired with concern about the evaluation process.  The second was a questioning of how the Ontario Regionals were left to CUPA to organize and run (WODS did that on behalf of CUPA).  A quick response on feedback that ODSA received from member clubs was brought up and an uneasy pause was entered while new business was moved onto.

It’s strange, as if some organizations have already made up their mind but Lowcock has been smart in providing documentation of communication and not answered directly.  Yet you can sense the frustration in his voice; frustration at things dragging on and at questions being asked.

In conversations I’ve always found that the ODSA Executive Director enjoys doing the talking, expressing a variety of ideas, and wanting people to hear what he’s saying.  In all of his conversations, speeches, and discussions at the AGM he continued to express his thoughts in much the same manner but there were problems.  His speeches tend to be vague and rather than address the core issues he simple dismisses the current line of questioning.

The Disc Golfers in the room could also sense that something was not normal.  I got the distinct sense that these AGMs and meetings tend to go fairly quickly and orderly without question or discussion of what the core group of members push forth in the agenda or policy.  Many were also surprised by the anger and passion in some lines of questioning.  There was also frustration that the Ultimate clubs were there en mass indicating that they had expressed issues time and time again without receiving a response.

Frustration that the board members had communicated time and time again and yet had not heard back at all.  This particular frustration deserves further questioning.  How is it possible that almost all Ultimate clubs in Ontario conveniently ignored any feedback requested of them in a timely manner?  It’s not.

There’s a disconnect somewhere and that was about the only common understanding reached at the end of the AGM.  Where that disconnect is depends on whom you talk to.  Regardless of who is to blame all sides will need to work together starting immediately.  Emails should be flying back and forth now.  There was no situation presented at the AGM that cannot have all parties happily moving towards a solution inside of a week.

I don’t worry for the future of Disc Golf or Ultimate; both of these sports are well entrenched and established within their member cities.  I do wonder though if the concerns expressed during the AGM will be handled quickly.

In other news out of the AGM:

  1. Three new board members:  Natalie Fitzgerald, Darryl Chow, Rob Wormald.  Mike Yuhasz who’s with the Brantford Disc Golf Club, Chicopee Disc Golf Club, and WODS is also on the board serving out his second year (Mike and Duane played a huge role in getting Chicopee going with AJ).
  2. Thomas Meyer stepped down as Treasurer and moved into the position of President.  New Treasurer is Curtis Vanderloo.
  3. The RADD tour is very cool and both Dušan Nedelko and Mark Kowgier have done well with it.  Dušan came through Waterloo a few years ago during the tour and hooked many people on Disc Golf.  He’s played a major role in keeping DG active throughout Ontario and getting kids more involved in Ultimate.

Aside from that we await news of the new competitive/touring policy.  Hope you’ve enjoyed my rambling semi-in-the-moment blogging.