Amidst a crowd of friends meeting, hugging, and slapping each others’ asses a group of men and women sat at the front of the room awaiting the start of the Captain’s meeting. Those seated in silence were the leadership of an organization that has positioned itself as the face of Ultimate in the USA but I believe it’s poised to be the face of Ultimate worldwide.
What follows below is a recap of the inaugural USA Ultimate Club Championships Captain’s Meeting.
It was a meeting of a great many firsts and it started with one fairly important one: For the first time ever youth growth exceeded adult growth in our sport. It’s an important milestone as USA Ultimate has mandated that wherever there is interest they will provide a coach to mentor and develop the youth program. Players are urged to help and help as much as they can once they retire.
Of course, if you’re somebody like Jim Parinella then you may never retire. I bring up Jim as I don’t think his expression changed as he looked on from the back of the room. How many times has he been here? How many times has he done this? It might be in the 20s.
Managing Director of Competition and Athlete Programs, Will Deaver, will miss out on this tournament due to emergency personal matters.
CEO, Tom Crawford, introduces a video that’ll be used to quickly showcase Ultimate, a sort of promo video. It’s well paced and well put together. Players agree that after years or trying there’s finally a good video. There were plenty of small laughs along the way as players watched others in the room talk passionately about the sport. The room is quite focused on tomorrow and they’re all dialed in. There are a few nervous looks as first timers attend the meeting but others have an air of confidence about them.
Tom announces (perhaps publicly for the first time) that the Club Championships is one of two marquee events. USA Ultimate plans on a US Open tournament as well and will invite other countries to come and play in the US. A fantastic idea and one that they’re continuing to move forward on.
CBS Sports will be coming to this tournament to see whether they’ll start providing coverage in future years. Collegiate Division coverage has also been expanded and the deal was just finalized. CBS continues to expand coverage in Collegiate as viewership continues to expand. I think they’ll be blown away by the level of competition that they see here.
Additional major sponsors will also be around including big names in confectionary and sports brands. Things are definitely heating up and USA Ultimate’s branding has helped them take major steps forward.
Big change (as Tony says, they’ve been building up to this one): Beer will no longer be free. To change the perception of the sports (elite players should not be drinking for free “on the job”) and for insurance purposes the beer is no longer free. Players will be given one dollar discount coupons for beer in their player packages.
Food table is also gone as there were massive wastes in past years. Teams will be given team packages with food. There will be vendors around that will sell plenty of southern and vegetarian food.
Five Ultimate is the new clothing sponsor this year. Xtehn announces: New fabric (I’ll be buying in the morning so I’ll let you know what it’s like), Postcards (like at WUCC), and they want feedback from players as they want to continue to get better.
There will be testing on site during the tournament and players were challenged to beat the College records:
Open record: 40 yard dash in 4.7 seconds and 33″ max vertical.
Women’s record: 40 yard dash in 5.26 seconds and 28″ max vertical.
Weather update advised that lighting is not expected and games should proceed absolutely perfectly. It is quite humid here though. Lightning rules are explained and players are asked to return to their cars when the lightning horn goes.
Club Championships are a non-smoking event.
Field rules explained with a two yard player line and one yard beyond being the equipment line. Players need to stay away from the sideline to assist Observers.
Adriana, of VC Ultimate explains the Green program. They target a reduction in not only waste but encourage reuse. They will provide free Gatorade each morning so that players reuse bottles rather than continually throwing away Gatorade bottles.
Last year $1000 was given to the team that brought the most recycling bags back. Scandal won with 96 bags returned. Some Open teams returned just one bag. This year the contest will return with $1000 to the top team, $500 to the second place team, and hats for others.
As most teams stay on Siesta Key players are encouraged to act responsibly. Sarasota loves having UUCC here and wants to continue. Last year there were 0 complaints from Siesta Key and only a single email. Perhaps teams are getting serious about this whole sport.
USA Ultimate will be tweeting, blogging, and will post photographs after round on their website. It will be significant in bringing you, at home, the experience of being here.
UltiVillage will be shooting video and providing daily content as well as live streaming the finals.
All games start at 0930 each day (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) except Sunday Finals which start at 0900.
All games are to 15. Point cap is at 17 or win by two. 11th edition rules apply everywhere.
Observers will provide: active line calls (in/out), end zone calls, timing between points and turnovers, offsides, and nothing else. While these rules may change for next year to involve Observers more only the mentioned is what Observers will provide in these games. Observers will wait 15 to 20 seconds before requesting calls to be resolved or making a ruling much like in previous years. Observers will give out TMFs and if three are received then there will be yardage penalties.
Observers are already fully booked for the second and third rounds on Thursday.
A new Masters Spirit trophy was revealed…it’s HUGE! I’ll try to get a photo for tomorrow. Still no Mixed division trophy.
Before the end of the meeting Tom wants to tell a quick story; everybody groans. It’s a World Games story about how the IOC came to see Ultimate. Ultimate quickly became the game to watch at World’s. The IOC was skeptical that a high level sport could be played in a fair manner without referees (Tony jokes that Soccer does that). During one of the games where the IOC was present the representatives turned to the Ultimate representatives and said that it was unbelievable and that this was what Olympics sports should be.
Tom says that we should not be comparing ourselves to other sports as we have honor.
Tom closes with: “Pursue victory with everything you got, but please do it with honor.”
And we call it a night folks, see you during the day where we’ll try to get you updates from the field if our Internet is up and running.