Monday, August 06, 2007

YCC NEWS: Pittsburg Girls Drop

So, despite the plea for more ladies to join them, the Pittsburgh girls YCC team has dropped. The current plan is to incorporate the same format as the mixed division (round-robin play) and have the top two teams play a second game for the finals...

Needless to say, there will be many disappointed ladies including the few Pittsburgh girls able to attend and their coach Susan Thomas. Many of us are sad that you will not able to make it this year, but hopefully your area will be there in force next year!


Alex Peters said...

Props rescinded.

Alex Peters said...

Word is apparently the UPA wouldn't LET them play with the few girls that wanted to go. Seems pretty lame.

Props temporarily reinstated?

Anonymous said...

is it just me, or has the UPA been especially anal this year?

Kyle Weisbrod said...

Lame until you realize that the UPA is the governing body of the sport and that playing with only five players over two days in the middle of the summer against teams with many more players puts those 5 players at serious risk of injury and heat exhaustion and that if that did happen the UPA would be at risk of being sued and knowing that that was a serious risk would constitute negligence that would probably be hard to defend and then we wouldn't have a UPA anymore.

Yes, it's possible that injury and heat exhaustion happen with rosters of 10, 12 or even 20 players, however, the risk is much, much greater when a player can not take a sub.

Obviously, I'm probably seen as more of a UPA "insider" (although I had nothing to do with this decision) but I'd prefer my organizing body to be risk averse when it comes to situations like this in order to protect the long term well being of the sport and the organization (as well as protecting the well being of those five players).

Perhaps the UPA becoming more "anal" is the UPA becoming more professional and responsible when considering the well being of the organization and its players. Something I think we should be proud that the UPA is doing.


Anonymous said...

maybe its just me, but perhaps others as well would like to see some benefits from this increasingly anal "more professional and responsible organization".

so far i see little help for youth leagues, i see exclusion from tournaments, extra (and quote frivolous in the long run) requirements like numbers on shorts, i see leagues struggling to start on their own with no support from a national organization, while established leagues have no incentive to join.

the only media coverage the sport has gained is CSTV channel 375 on extremely digital cable.

the only tournament series run by the UPA has a constant disorganization, fluxuating exceptions for rules, a lack of volunteers, which still gets no media coverage in the club arena, and very little in the college.

the acceptance system for easterns, westerns and YCCs is very obviously broken. there is no championship for high school teams. at least not one that takes the best of the best.

the only benefit i get right now from the UPA is an ultimate news magazine, which arrives weeks before or after my friends receive the same issue. and a % off discount from discraft.

if the UPA wants to get serious, how about it relaxes on the anality of numbers on shorts and instead focuses on publicizing or growing the sport in general.

right now it seems to be doing neither.

unfortunate that the pittsburgh girls cant attend, perhaps if the UPA wanted to use this event to grow the sport they would make it a bit less expensive, and allow it to grow in each division as teams were able to attend. maybe it will eventually be able to grow larger than 8 teams, because at the moment it would appear that over the YCC competition has not accomplished growth in the last three years.

Anonymous said...

Dude, only need 2 players to play Ultimate. It's in the rules.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:13-

An RSD-worthy rant, to be sure. I have an idea for you, and all other UPA malcontents out there: come to Boulder. Come watch these people, and listen to them, and realize the pressure that they go through in their jobs, and the amount of time and energy they put into trying to make your playing experience better.

The UPA is extremely active in "helping youth leagues"... see pgs. 41 and 43 of your UPA newsletter. Help is there for those who ask for it.

One of the UPA's main focuses coming out of the summits and surveys is the growth of youth ultimate. Not necessarily the improvement, but the growth. If you're a teenager living in NYC and Nationals that year is in SoCal, what are the chances of you going? Splitting up Natties into Easterns and Westerns provides a championship opportunity to more teams... and they still have the chance to play YCC (a real championship) in the summer. And since you brought it up, the bid allocation process for YCC is in place to encourage states to establish non-high school youth leagues. It seems like a pretty good incentive to me.

How do you recommend they make YCC cheaper? Because to be honest, this sport costs a lot of money, with very little benefits... unless you count the joy of playing, which I do. The UPA doesn't have money to throw into everything... it'd be nice, and honestly cutting tourney fees at YCC would facilitate their goal (getting more kids more ultimate), but where's that money coming from? Your UPA membership fees that you grudgingly pay when all you get is a magazine (and college and club championship serieses, along with three youth championship events, plus the actual UPA employees who, believe me, work there for the love of the game, not for the cushy salary)?

Why does no one seem to get that although the UPA is not perfect, they are putting a heroic amount of time and energy into improving your ultimate experience?

Sorry for the rant (definitely not meant as an affront to you, more of a general frustration-- your comments were more productive and honest than most I've seen on the issue),

Josh said...

Anon 8/7@10:13am:

What specifically would you like to see the UPA do more of to support youth Ultimate?

Regarding youth league support: What about the league/team sanctioning program? State championship program? Coaching certification program? League conferences?

Regarding numbers on shorts: First off, as far as I know, numbers on shorts aren’t yet required at any UPA youth events. They will be soon, at some events. Second, so what if they are? I don’t see how numbers on shorts are frivolous.

Regarding exclusion from tournaments: This happens all over the place, not just at UPA events.

When you say, “i see leagues struggling to start on their own with no support from a national organization”, which leagues are you referring to? What more could the UPA do to help these leagues?

Regarding incentives for established leagues to join the UPA: What about the ability to play in UPA events and support an organization whose sole goal is to get more people playing Ultimate?

Regarding media coverage: 10 years ago you’d be lucky to find a serious article on Ultimate in a newspaper. Yes, the CSTV coverage isn’t on ABC, but it’s still national TC coverage. I think that’s a very big deal. And why would it just be the UPA’s ‘fault’ if Ultimate is ‘just’ on CSTV?

Regarding the quality of UPA events: I’ve been to 40+ youth Ultimate tournaments in the past 4 years and the ones run by the UPA have been some of the most professional and well run events I have attended. Just because the UPA has a couple teams drop at the last minute from YCCs this year doesn’t mean their event is some how massively less professional. Will, Meredith and the rest of the UPA crew do one heck of a job running UPA youth tournaments.

Regarding fluctuating exceptions to rules: What are you referring to here? In my opinion, over the past couple years, the UPA has been more and more firm on their rules. Also, where have you seen a lack of volunteers? Given, an event can always use more volunteers than it gets, I’ve seen a pretty good amount of people helping out at UPA events. And if you think there aren’t enough volunteers – What more should the UPA do to find them? And why not volunteer yourself if you think it’s such an issue?

How is acceptance system for Easterns and Westerns broken?

I do agree with you that the system for accepting teams for the YCCs is a little off, but it still works. Yup, a couple teams got boxed out and I think the UPA should expand the tournament to accept everyone, but that’s the biggest deal in the world. Also, as it’s stated on the YCC FAQ, the YCCs are an experimental event who entire system is still being worked on. So far I think the UPA has done a great job with the YCCs.

Regarding a lack of a true national youth tournament: Yah, it would be pretty neat to have one huge national tournament, but there are lots of reasons the Easterns/Westerns split is more beneficial for the development of Ultimate. Have you read through the long reasoning behind the split that’s posted on the UPA website?

Regarding the benefits you personally get from the UPA: Have you attended any UPA tournament events? Are any of the leagues/teams you play against sanctioned by the UPA? Have you attended a coaching clinic? Have you attended one of the PE conferences the UPA presents at? Did you attend one of the Ultimate Revolution meetings? Did you attend the free League Conference?

Regarding numbers on shorts again: Numbers on shorts really bugs you that much? Again, at the youth level this year I thought they weren’t required at any events? And if they are required on shorts, it’s just at YCCs and possible Easterns/Westerns. Isn’t it, like, $3-4 to get numbers on your shorts?

Regarding the cost of YCCs: How would you propose the UPA lower the cost of YCCs? Yah, I think the $25 per player tourney fee is a little steep, but I think it’s a bargain price for the quality of the event they put on. Also, this isn’t much less than the other tourney fees that non-UPA weekend events charge (AI was $300, SJAI was $250).

Also, you seem to think that YCCs haven’t grown in each division over the last 3 years? Ummm, in 2005 there were 8 open teams, 4 girls teams, and 5 mixed teams. In 2006 there were 8 open teams, 5 girls teams, and 6 mixed teams. This summer there are 8 open teams, 7 girls teams, and 7 mixed teams. That seems like growth to me.

I do agree with you that the YCCs should grow to more than just 8 teams in each division…. And I think they are heading towards just that. In 3 summers the tournament has almost completely filled – a tournament that most teams have to fly to and that takes a huge amount of organization to get to. The fact that the UPA has almost completely filled the tournament in only 3 iterations is impressive.

The UPA isn’t perfect, but it does a dang good job of growing Ultimate in the US, especially at the youth level. We’ve seen something like a 40% growth EACH YEAR for the past 5 years in the number of kids playing Ultimate in the US. 4 years ago there were 9(?) state tournament. This last spring there were 18. In 2002 there were 16(?) open teams and 11 girls teams at nationals. This last spring there were 16 open teams at 11 girls teams at both Easterns and Westerns. Over the past 3 years the UPA has certified over 600 people to coach Ultimate, something youth Ultimate desperately needs. The level 2 curriculum has been developed and put in place. The UPA ran a free (you had to get yourself there) League Organizers conference that was sooooo much fun and tremendously useful. The UPA offers a GREAT sanctioning program that has helped so many teams get insurance, including myself. The UPA has coordinated and grown the USA Junior World teams for the past… 14 years? It used to be that the team was chosen by applications alone – Now there are 300+ kids participating in tryouts. Every time I email the UPA a question or asking for help, I get a prompt response. They have developed an online rostering system that while not entirely perfect, is really easy to use if you take the time to actually use it.

Anyway… yah, the UPA isn’t perfect, but I at least think they do a DAMN good job at growing Ultimate and promoting it to the world.

And just to reiterate my original question:

What specifically would you like to see the UPA do more of to support youth Ultimate?

Kyle Weisbrod said...

I'm not going to defend the UPA, becuase I think Josh and Brenna both did a very nice job talking about what the UPA has done and currently does, but I do want to say that Anon 10:13 does bring up some valid points.

I'm not going to address the championships (Easterns/Westerns/YCC) because I think YCC is done well and once we get through the early stages I think people will be very satisfied with its structure and it will result in both growth and more opportunities to play. I'm not sure how we could do Easterns/Westerns better - there is a reason why all HS team sports are played at the state, not national, level.

The issues I think is most interesting and worthwhile is what can the UPA do to support leagues (particularly youth leagues) more? We are in the middle of this strategic planning and this is clearly something people want. The UPA offers the league conference, and is working on a league manual, and while those are good resources for information, they don't make it easier for people to organize Ultimate. Mike Mullen has talked about league affiliation, and I'm sure that will be discussed and addressed, but where is the extra benefit that the UPA is providing to the leagues?

The other comment in the rant that I found really interesting was about volunteers. This is related to the league support issue I think. How can the UPA help to increase the number and effectiveness of league, tournament and other local organizers? Once again, the conference and the manual help, but what Ultimate needs long term (I think) is full-time paid organizers at the Regional, State and local levels as well as enough volunteers to ensure that everyone who wants can have quality Ultimate experiences. How do we get there? What's the UPA's next step?

As far as numbers on shorts go, if this is the biggest mistake the UPA has made in peoples minds, I think the organization is doing pretty well. Frankly, I think the magazine will look more professional when every picture has the players' names in the caption (something that isn't happening right now because it's hard to identify players from the front and most good pictures are from the front). It will also help as the UPA takes stats on more games which will also help promote the sport better.

All in all, I think this is a worthwhile discussion to have. The UPA does a lot to help the sport, but there are certainly ways in which it can do more. Specific suggestions that you make on these issues could lead to changes over the coming years - I'm happy to read them (here or on direct e-mails to me -

Anonymous said...

yeah Anon 10:13, you're an asshole. Numbers on shorts is ridiculous though, there's no question about that. If you want to be identified, then go for it, but it shouldn't be required.

I think the problem with the UPA isn't that they're not doing enough (they're working there asses off it sounds like) but that they're trying to do too much.

Too many requirements, too many reasons to disqualify college teams, too much hype about expanding sport.

The number on the shorts defense is a perfect example of over-zealousness. Ultimate players don't need stats and names in captions to enjoy their sport.

Ultimate is a laid-back sport. That's part of the grassroots. So how about the governing body chills out a bit?

Sorry to be so offensive and RSD idealist about this; its great that people at the UPA are working so hard to improve the sport. But making the sport enjoyable for the players should be the first role of the UPA. And providing opportunities to play should be done with the least hassle and interference.

Numbers on shorts is just a hassle that' not worth it in my mind. If I wanted to be identified, I put my name on this post hehe

Josh said...

Anon 8/7@4:46pm:

Actually, there is a question about your assertion that numbers on shorts are ridiculous. I think numbers on shorts are a perfectly valid requirement for high-level events like YCCs, Easterns, and Westerns. Do I think they should be required at the State Champ level? Nope, not for a long, LONG while at least. But I see no issue with requiring them at championship events. Is it the added $3-4 cost per pair or shorts that bugs you? Were you also bothered when the UPA started requiring all players to start wearing numbers on their jerseys?

Regarding your statement that you think the UPA is trying to do too much: How is adding more stream-line inducing ‘requirements’ a drain to the UPA? How are the college requirements too much of a strain on the UPA? And this I’m really confused about… too much hype about expanding the sport? How is there possibly such a thing?

If by “too many reasons to disqualify college teams” you’re referring to the couple major cases where players and teams have been DQ’d – where the UPA has had to go to court for example – I say WAY TO GO UPA! If the UPA didn’t have a structure they could stick by, they wouldn’t be much of an organization. Are you one of those people that were pissed off when the UPA stopped letting 17 colleges (exaggeration) play together on one team? (UCSB through the 90’s) Were you upset when the UPA made it a requirement that your 5 years of college eligibility had to be consecutive? I’m not crying over that change – I for one was getting sick of playing 27+ year olds from UCLA, UCSB, and the rest of SoCal. I’m not complaining because the competition was too hard – I LOVED the tough games… but if I wanted to play club Ultimate, I would play club Ultimate. In college I want to see college players play. I think what the UPA has done at the college level in regards to player requirements is spot on.

Going back to the numbers on shorts issue: I really, honestly can’t tell if you’re being serious or not. Just because the UPA is making it a requirement to have numbers on shorts at SOME events, doesn’t mean that they are making that decision based on the fact that they think all Ultimate players are stat-crazy, photo-glory hounds. No, they are making it a requirement because it is a SMALL way to help make the sport look more professional at their showcase events. You can have any requirements you want at your Ultimate tournament. Instate that cross-field gender 2 point rule (I love that rule), make it mandatory that all players were different jerseys. Do whatever you want – That’s totally up to you. But at the UPA events, the UPA gets to decide what to do. And at the championship level numbers on shorts is one heck of a small thing to care about.

Regarding Ultimate as a laid-back sport Yup, I agree that lots of people play Ultimate in a very laid-back fashion, at all levels. But not ALL Ultimate players are totally and complete laid-back. The UPA has such a wildly diverse playing-body to coordinate that they can’t just play to one group. And that’s what they do so well – They sanction hippy, loosely run summer leagues. The run a huge college championship series across schools that would normally span three NCAA divisions. They run a very intense club championship series. They do all they can to make sure youth kids are getting opportunities to play Ultimate. And what amuses me is that I see the UPA being criticized for being too intense and at the same time other people going after it for being too laid-back. In my opinion the UPA is doing a great job at catering to a psychotic range of people – from the people who think they are too intense (you) to people who think they aren’t strict enough (me).

You said “But making the sport enjoyable for the players should be the first role of the UPA.”: I don’t see how they aren’t doing that already. Thousands upon thousands of people are enjoying Ultimate through programs, teams, and leagues that the UPA promotes and supports. Some very vocal people are unhappy with how things are bring done, and seemingly are unhappy playing Ultimate. No matter what the UPA does, some people are always going to be unhappy.

To those people that are unhappy: Go out and be the change you want to see. Seriously. Go out and start a league on your own that’s super laid-back and just for home-schoolers. Start your own National Federation so you can send a team to Junior Worlds. Go volunteer at a UPA event. Find a state that doesn’t have an SYC or state tournament and volunteer to be the SYC and run that state tournament. If you have suggestions about how the UPA should do things, tell them directly. (They LOVE hearing from people – seriously.) Go out and start a summer youth club team and bring some kids to YCCs who have never been to an organized tournament. Ghandi really had it righ – BE THE CHANGE.

You said, “And providing opportunities to play should be done with the least hassle and interference.”: I totally and completely agree. The problem is though that lots of Ultimate players seem to think that Ultimate-playing opportunities should come with NO hassles at all. None. They seem to think that any paperwork at all is the work of Satan and that the online rostering system is the anti-Christ. Sigh. That’s really too bad because neither system is that hard to manage if you take the effort to 1) Read the online FAQs about each 2) Take the time, in advance, to collect paperwork from your team 3) Realize that organizing Ultimate is not free and that it takes some sort of cash flow to run a national organization.

Back, again, to numbers on shorts: I’m going to have to echo Kyle on this one – If numbers on shorts are one of the biggest complains people have about the UPA, the UPA is definitely doing everything right :)

Oh, and just so people can read it over one more time:

The UPA’s Mission Statement

The UPA serves as the governing body of the sport of Ultimate in the US. Our Mission Is:To promote and support the sport of Ultimate and its players. To increase participation in the sport of Ultimate at all levels. To uphold the Spirit of the Game including personal responsibility and integrity. To provide a framework for players to organize and conduct competition and other activities related to Ultimate.

And lastly:

What specifically would you like to see the UPA do more of to support youth Ultimate?

McCabe said...

ill bite on josh's last question -

I personally would like the UPA to make it easier to have leagues become UPA sponsored.

I, personally, am a UPA member and i think its a great organization, i can (skip if you hate nostalgia) remember how amazed and happy i was when i first found out that there was an established national organization whose sole purpose was advancing a sport that i loved.

perhaps something like this -

a three year conversion plan for established leagues to become members.

1st year - all teams (players) are official UPA members but do not pay fees at all - essentially no cost to join, but receive full member benefits.

2nd year - pay half dues of normal member

3rd year - pay full dues. all the while through all the years receiving full benefits of membership.

This would do a few things, it would allow large established leagues to easily join the UPA quickly, over time, it would drastically increase the amount of dues the UPA receives, it just needs to be considered an investment.

In research on the UPA website i realize there is something similar on the individual level with $11 intro membership for youth players which is a good start. But i think a targeting of the largest leagues not affiliated with the UPA and advertising how easy it is to become a member as a league.

In Philly alone the UPA would garner some $6,000 new membership dollars the second year and then $12,000 or more the following year.

Alternately, specifically to promote growth. If there were a way (i dont know the inner workings of the UPA financially, but bear with me) to pay state youth coordinators so they could spend more time than volunteers that would be amazing.

I know personally (a fraction of) how much Darrn Shultz does for PA, and its incredible how much time he invests. If there were the possibility of a paid position for each state, originally financed by the UPA but gradually the financial burden would be assumed by the state's members themselves - that person would be able to travel to each school district, inform them about the sport. Help individual people start to form leagues and teams.

Lets face it, at the time needed to meet with important people in school districts, athletic directors etc, almost all of those volunteers have to work.

If there could be 50 people paid to work even part time to i think the results would be spectacular. Think of them as Johnny Ultimate-seeds.

Things like this do happen, and the UPA does have resources - such as starter kits, online tutorials etc - to help teams. But i think whats missing is the local connection.

Like i previously mentioned though i think it needs to be seen as an investment, pay these 50 people, one in each state to start all these leagues, and in three years or a little more you are going to reap the benefits because you will have exponential growth of members - more fees and then more teams. then more teams competing in UPA sponsored tournaments etc.

Growth is good for the UPA financially, and i realize that the Ultimate Revolution is addressing many of these options and i am excited for the future.

Just two very specific ideas to further the growth of youth ultimate. Maybe not the best or easiest to implement, and maybe there are better ideas out there. But i just want to say that i applaud the work that the UPA has done so far, but i think its our responsibility as the playing community, and members to push the UPA and our sport further and further.

I am excited to hear responses and other ideas.

Also, anonymous posters please post your names, even a fake one will do so at least people dont have to respond as "Anon 2:14" etc its just annoying.

Anonymous said...

ok, i am sorry. I am not one to post much on this site but i love reading it. I read every post no matter how long it is an no matter what its about.

What i have noticed lately is that people do not know how to take constructive critism. Not to call out names but Kyle. almost every time someone writes an artical about the UPA you shoot back as fast as you can defending everything that you have worked for.

i know its very easy to get defensive. but all of the people that play ultimate only want to see our sport grow, i dont think you could find one person that doesnt.

everything we say about the UPA (rhyme) is just trying to make our sport better.

it seems like every sport has there defects right now

Basketball - Refs (thank god we dont have them yet, maybe they will fix games)

Baseball - steroids (not illegal in ultimate)

Football - violence (it seems like most ultimate players are genuinly nice)

Hockey - (losing fan base)

see all sports (these four were examples) have there problems and somehow those will get fixed. the UPA and the people that defend the UPA on this site need to understnad that no matter how hard us readers attack that we are only trying to help the sport.

i hope someone reads this.



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"me", way to go. it is actually quite discouraging to see how angrily the "UPA Defenders" have attacked anybody who questions their ways.

numbers on shorts is only a little thing but it represents a more meaningful disconnect that needs to be payed attention too. many leagues don't get sanctioned because the players don't want to have to pay an extra 20 bucks for one tournament and a magazine. making people put numbers on shorts is another 15-20 bucks (many teams generally pick a short color that allows most people to use what they have and not re-buy shorts) for one of the most pointless things out there. is it for stat keeping. i guess if they put all the energy into making sure people wear shorts so they can keep stats, it would be more worthwhile if they didn't lose them (westerns).

and when it came to YCC bids i am still baffled at why they rejected teams in order to keep an 8 team limit in the divisions. going past 16 teams is a stretch but untill you have more than 16 bids i feel that any league should be given a chance even if it isnt UPA sanctioned. especially since seeing the growth they will be very likely to want to sanction for that tournament they had fun at rather than the tournament they are bitter towards for being wrongly rejected.

the UPA is a good organization but they need to be able to have their supporters relay and take action to this criticism rather than simply attacking the people they are supposed to be helping. for example its not to late to take away that shorts requirement.

Anonymous said...

the numbers on the shorts dont represent anything. they are just a way to make the sport look presentable at its HIGHEST levels.

So just man up and move on

Anonymous said...

1. The shorts. They're shorts. Are we really so vain? They look good, and it affects a fraction of the player population (championship events only). Move. On.

2. People jump to the defense of the UPA as quickly as others will jump to attack it. Ultimate players are historically very passionate about our sport, and we will jump to protect its best interests, whatever we think those to be.

(I also don't think it's quite on to call some of the complaints that are being addressed to the UPA "constructive criticism." More often than not anti-UPA sentiments provide all problem and no solution. This, too, is a pretty broad claim, but there are so many different people saying different things-- all in shades of grey-- that it's hard to address them all at once.)

The Pulse said...

For now I'll just respond about the numbers on shorts, but I'll talk about the rest of this later when I get to work.

Right now, numbers on shorts are only required for teams participating in college and club nationals. I'd say that 95% of these teams already bought matching team shorts/skirts. The number printing was a small additional hassle because many teams had to send their shorts back in after regionals to get numbers printed, but in the future, every team with a shot at nationals will just buy the shorts with numbers up front, from VC, Gaia, 5 Ultimate, etc.

Shorts don't help in stat-keeping, they help in identification for pictures later (somewhat). I don't think that the problem is that numbers on shorts are required for nationals now, it's the way that it was introduced that rubbed people the wrong way. People are using it as a symbol of the UPA being out of touch or poor communicators.

In sum: numbers on shorts are okay and not a hassle.

Kyle Weisbrod said...

Anons 11:13 and 12:01,

While I can see how one may read my posts as defensive, I would recommend taking a look back at my posts (as many as you like) and see that what I am attempting to do is be informative and further discussion. I have a unique perspective having been involved in Youth Ultimate for 14 years and working actively on behalf of the UPA and the sport for 5. I was involved in many of the UPA's decisions and those that I haven't been acitvely involved in, using my experience I can put myself in the place of UPA decision makers. So, when people criticize the UPA with limited information or perspective I try and add information on why a decision is being made. Hopefully this furthers discussion, allows everyone to understand why the UPA does what it does, and gives people the knowledge they need to actively work for change in the UPA or Ultimate.

For example, this thread started with a UPA decision (on not allowing a team with only 5 members to compete at a national level tournament in the middle of summer) being called "lame" and "anal."

I responded that the UPA was likely making a decision based on concern for player safety and the organization's legal liability.

At this point, a reasonable argument could be:
"I think the UPA is being too risk averse. I would prefer they let the players make their own decisions on their safety. I'm OK with the UPA taking that risk and possibly being sued because I value 'player-control' over the risk of the UPA going out of business."

Hey, that's a fair argument (and on topic). I don't agree, but at least we've now got a starting point to work from to discuss what the UPA policy should be if it should be different.

I really appreciate McCabe's response about integrating leagues. Figuring out how to do this is a big challenge and the more ideas we get the better - I'm excited about having a thread just about this.

Finally, Anon 11:13, I know that everyone wants to see the sport grow. I think, in general, it's counterproductive to start from the position that the UPA is "lame," "anal," or from some other negative assumption. Just as you want the "UPA defenders" to assume the best intentions out of the critics, the critics should be giving the UPA and their defenders the benefit of the doubt. If Josh, Brenna, Meredith, Will Deaver, or I lived in your city, you better believe that we would be working hard organizing leagues and tournaments and coaching. And from the responses I and others have given to posts criticizing UPA decisions I would hope that you would know that we make reasoned decisions (even if you don't agree with every one of them).

I think the sport would be a lot better off if we could stop "The UPA sucks/is stupid" discussion and started our discussions from "The UPA does a lot of good stuff, but it could be better."


The Pulse said...

My issue with youth leagues is that they're claiming to be something they're not. Most teams do not play single games against teams in their league. If they do, they don't play enough. Paideia played one game outside of their tournament schedule. NWS played four. LC Bird played two, one against their own JV. Columbia played two.

Now, some teams in these leagues played a lot more games - Godwin, for instance, and Grady. But how can Grady play 6 games and Paideia only 1, and Paideia JV 2? A lot of leagues are not organized enough to be actual leagues. They're just vehicles for state/league championships.

NJHSU used to mandate that teams played six league games in order to play at states. This year CHS played two games and last year we played at least 5.

Some teams rely on "league" games because they don't have the money or ambition to travel to tournaments. But they're not really league-scheduled games, they're games against teams within your league.

What I would really like to see is an online UPA league tool. Integrate Rodney Jacobson's or do something. But until leagues actually run like leagues with scheduled games that are actually played, many leagues might as well not even exist and jump straight into a state championship.

I think that this will also help set up and promote fledgling leagues, as well as youth ultimate in general. If you tell people to register their team with the league and then they show up on the schedule with games to play (scheduled well in advance), it's a lot more "legit" than giving a new team your phone number and telling them to call you when they want to play. A professional website will make a huge difference.

Some leagues do a very good job of scheduling games and actually following through. Mandating home and away, etc. But some uniform system or set of guidelines that define a UPA HS League would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

The pulse's comments are interesting ones. I'd be interested to know how many leagues really are leagues in name only.

I think that some of the comments earlier about the UPA trying to do "too much" as opposed to "too little" are in some cases on the mark - particularly in the cases of well established leagues.

For instance, PHUEL (Philadelphia's non-UPA sponsored league) has a schedule created at the beginning of every season, and teams follow through. Teams often schedule "home and away" matchups with other schools, leading to schedules that often support close to 12-18 individual games. Teams are obligated to play at least three away games in order to qualify for the league championship tournament. This truly is a "league" in the sense that the Pulse was using.

In addition to scheduling help, PHUEL also provides insurance and helps to match (volunteer) coaches with teams.

I think that the relationship between leagues such as PHUEL and DiscNW and the UPA are unique and rare, but they ought not be ignored. Should PHUEL essentially reinvent the wheel, require players to pay redundant costs, and require organizers to deal with an additional level of beauracracy just to qualify for a tournament like the YCC? In an ideal world, I would hope not. I'd like to see more dialogue (and potential flexibility) between the UPA and well-established high school leagues.

-Rob Olson

The Pulse said...

I absolutely agree that the PHUEL model is a good one. Could there be a "league membership" to the UPA? And ideally, PHUEL would not attempt to qualify for YCC's - a PADA or MCUDL UPA youth league would instead.

Anonymous said...

Seattle's YCC teams drew players from its coed league also. The teams in that league played at least 8 games plus playoffs. NWS can't play more than four games because the open and girls leagues aren't expanding past Hale, Seattle Academy, Northwest, Lakeside.


The Pulse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Pulse said...

(each team can draw from a different league, but each team must have only players from one league.)

Mike Mullen said...


You are right on with your suggestion that we need a league tool similar to the tournament tool. That would be a good service for those of us who were organized as leagues before we joined the UPA.

The Seattle league is a real league. We actually have a beginning of the season meeting where we talk about rules and how many games we want to play against each other. We also have a JV division for the boys. The coaches on the boys side decided that each team should only play each other once in official league games mainly due to time issues. One main problem is that all four schools have different spring breaks ranging from 1 week to 2 weeks so most of April is shot. Another issue was how many times do we want to play each other knowing that we will all be at state and Westerns together. Also, like Alex said, if we had more league teams we would play more league games.

Mike Mullen said...


Yes, we are all from one league. The DiscNW youth league. Some teams play coed division, some play girls division, some play open division. Some play in both coed and single gender.

And on the boys side every player on our team was on a open/boys league team during the past two years. Some happend to play on a D2 (JV) league team but they played. And we don't have any college players.

mt said...

Before any inaccurate rumors start circulating...

The DiscNW Spring Youth League has coed, girls and open divisions. All of which are sanctioned together as the DiscNW Spring Youth League. So yes, the players can be drawn from any of the divisions for the three teams and the players are all still from the same UPA sanctioned league.


The Pulse said...

I have a general question for anyone who knows the answer: is Seattle's majority-coed high school team system a function of low numbers, tradition, preference for coed, or any other factors?

Has there been any push towards open and girls leagues? Coming from the east coast high school ultimate scene, I've never understood how or why the west coast plays coed youth ultimate. Is it possibly a result of having such an organized league system in Seattle?

The Pulse said...

And on a completely unrelated note, why doesn't the UPA post rosters and team information for YCC/Easterns/Westerns/College Nationals online right when they get it? They've had this information for almost a month before the event, and it gets published in the tournament program anyway, so why not post it all online too?

At least club nationals rosters were posted online, and college team rosters were placed on their score reporter page. We submit all of this information and it's in demand, so what's the rationale for keeping it hidden.

And in the same vein, there are no event previews, selections of "games to watch," etc. posted anywhere official. And the writeups of most games look like they could have been written by someone following the score reporter online at home. At least the writeups have been getting better. But you have so many people and volunteers who are able and willing to do something like this.

Anonymous said...

seattle was traditionally mixed. however, in the past years a slow switch to single gender has been made.
many of the coed teams field JV single gender teams. this year also saw two new girls teams. Edmonds woodway, and the Bush School.

moving from single gender is hard. many schools dont have enough girls for a single gender team, and the guys are cool enough to stick to coed for the women.

you dont understand how or why the west coast plays coed? maybe you should come over for spring reign, or even potlatch. why does seattle play coed a lot? dunno. but its sure not keeping them from kicking butt against the east coast.

Mike Mullen said...


We have tried really hard to push single gender HS ultimate in the spring in Seattle. See my post about moving HS open to the fall on the west coast for more details. But to quickly answer your questions I think the reasons are:

1. Coed ultimate has been around Seattle for 10+ years as a natural growth of our 10+ (is it 15 years now?) year old MS league. When I pushed to go single gender with some teams I took a ton of criticism but my main point then was that coed programs get silly as soon as you have too many kids for two teams. The girls in particular get left out but it hurts boys development too. So the bigger programs went mostly single gender with the exception of playing Spring Reign.

2. The relatively high level of single gender teams makes it more daunting for a team to jump away from coed.

3. Coed is the easier program to run since the games are scheduled by DiscNW on rented fields and all happen on Saturday afternoons.

4. Some coaches would rather run programs that are more recreational which is fine. Coed serves that need much better.

5. Some people believe HS coed is better for getting girls involved in ultimate which I disagree with.

6. Spring Reign was the biggest HS tournament west of the Mississippi and arguably the biggest in the country. Before Westerns came along it was the big deal on the west coast. Spring Reign is a coed tournament. Take a look at Sockeye's roster and you will see a ton of guys who came out of the coed leagues.

Keep in mind that the final HS nationals that Seattle, Oregon, and Vancouver teams played in was also only the first or second single gender tournament for all those teams yet two of the four semi's teams on the open side and three of the four on the girls side were from those areas.

Also, keep in mind that Canada plays only HS coed leagues (I think that is still true) but look how strong their U-20 national teams were.

Hope that sheds some light.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Pulse, Denver has pretty much the exact system you described. We have a set schedule for games (teams are paired for a week- they contact each other to schedule when in that week they want to play and where). We're currently navigating the switch from coed to single gender, which will change pretty much everything, but in the past we've had enough coed teams in the league to avoid rematches in league play (19 teams at A State, 8 at B State). We also have the only "UPA Youth League", that is, unaffiliated with the high school league, in the summer.


Anonymous said...

screw open! where the ladies at?

The Pulse said...

"moving from single gender is hard. many schools dont have enough girls for a single gender team, and the guys are cool enough to stick to coed for the women."
That's what recruiting is for. And it's "open" division not the "boys" division - there were girls on our team my freshman and sophomore year until they decided to start their own team. And lo and behold, three girls managed to recruit enough of their friends and freshmen in order to get 3rd at Easterns in their first year. Now the team has a huge freshman (soon to be sophomore) core and is growing and learning fast. And I think that separating CHS girls has allowed Watchung to do the same with the girls from their open team - now they actually have someone in-state to play against.

"maybe you should come over for spring reign, or even potlatch."
Hopefully I'll be at Potlach next summer. I've played in "fun" coed tournaments before.

"2. The relatively high level of single gender teams makes it more daunting for a team to jump away from coed."
The gap will just get wider unless teams start jumping now (or new teams start that hate girls).

"3. Coed is the easier program to run since the games are scheduled by DiscNW on rented fields and all happen on Saturday afternoons."
Is there any reason that the same can't be true for open/girls?

"4. Some coaches would rather run programs that are more recreational which is fine. Coed serves that need much better."
A JV Division would too, and I'm sure that not all of the players feel that way.

"5. Some people believe HS coed is better for getting girls involved in ultimate which I disagree with."
I'm with you on that.

"Also, keep in mind that Canada plays only HS coed leagues (I think that is still true) but look how strong their U-20 national teams were."
I'd say they're in danger of losing their "guaranteed" finals spot on the open side to a team like Australia.

I guess the prevailing reason is just that "it's always been that way," and way back when the leagues were started, teams had problems with numbers. Whereas on the east coast, if you didn't have enough numbers, the girls played with the guys on an open team until they decided to split off.

And I think that recruitment is an issue that deserves some attention - at Columbia we tried to collect 50-75 email addresses as a goal, in the hopes that 15-20 would play in the fall and 10-15 would continue in the spring. The girls team also managed to do well recruiting, but until this past year had much lower retention numbers (they had to teach a lot of girls who had never played a sport before).

Brenna, it's leagues like Denver, DiscNW, and PHUEL that other leagues should aim to emulate. It's great that Denver does that - more leagues should do the same.

Anonymous said...

ahhhhh.... too long for me to sit through!!!

mt said...

Though I read the blog daily, I don't often post because I enjoy taking in what you all have to say without imposing my own opinion too much. But I do feel compelled to pipe in today, because a topic has come up that I find particularly interesting.

I think the question of whether or not mixed is good for girls is not one that can be answered with a universal "yes" or "no". It's situational and the effects are different for the short and the long term.

It's taken me a number of years to come around to this conclusion.

My thought is that for a team at the first stages of organization, who is just trying to get numbers, having a mixed team in a mixed league is ideal. I think that Seattle maintaining this environment while also providing single gender leagues is a great situation that maximizes the potential for kids to play Ultimate. The mixed league now seems to serve as an entry level league where new teams can get involved through a structured system and bring both boys and girls to the table. In fact, if they don't have enough girls, then you've got boys out trying to recruit more girls - adding to the number of people invested in getting more girls to play. Brilliant. There are certainly short term benefits to girls playing Ultimate in this situation.

As teams become more competitive and Westerns or Easterns is the end goal, they may opt to go single gender for league, or not. Don't forget that all those programs in Seattle that have sustainable girls teams came from mixed. And the new girls teams this year previously played mixed. The ability of Bush and Edmonds to go to single gender was years in the making where those girls had an opportunity to gain skill experience playing coed (and combined girls teams) and where then able to sustain a school girls team having had that background. They also had amazing adult organizers and coaches who strongly advocated for their girls programs.

That said, I would agree with Mike that in the long term mixed is detrimental to most girls development of skills and on field authority. For whatever reason, girls (and women) are not always valued as equal contributors on the coed field. And to say that the "open" division is an equal option for girls may be technically correct, but it takes a particular type of female player to succeed in that environment, and simply quoting open as an avenue for girls to become involved is a statement I seem to hear most often from men. I know that being female in those situations gives me more insight and experience on what it feels like to play coed or even open as a girl. But I think there is a justification of not developing girls programs because the few girls that are externally motivated to play "can just play open" that just doesn't hold water for me.

Here's a question for you all...
Why are there more girls teams in the west compared to the east (11 at Westerns, 8 at Easterns - but those numbers are not complete data on total numbers of teams just an easy example). I don't have the answer outright, but I do think that a large part of has to do with the background in coed that many of the west coast teams have that the east coast teams may not. Granted, the transition from mixed to single gender has to be done with concerted effort at maintaining and growing the girls teams as well, such as Colorado is doing right now, otherwise its easy to slip into the trap of girls fizzling out while boys teams grow as the only team from a school.

When Seattle teams went from mixed to single gender, as organizers we set the tone that simply dropping your girls from the coed team, or assuming that should just play with the boys was not encouraged. DiscNW put exceptional effort into recruiting coaches to offset the commitment for the existing coaches when teams split in two. We set the tone that girls teams were just as important as boys, even if they were infinitely harder to form and keep going. There was nothing wrong with maintaining a coed team or staying completely with coed until you could field both a boys and a girls team. I still support that sentiment.

My personal experience:
When I first started coaching Lakeside in 2004 with Jeremy Cram, we had a young team that played mixed. We may even have had two teams (Varsity and a small JV), Jeremy and I split the responsibilities, and it was totally manageable on top of our full time jobs. The next year the single gender league started and we played both single gender (boys and girls) and also mixed. With practices, Cram and I were looking at 5 days a week - on top of our own adult club teams practices. We dropped the mixed team the next year (same players as the open/girls) and had a Boys Varsity, Boys JV and Girls squads. I coached the girls, Cram coached the boys and we traded off on the JV. But again the commitment was significant. Back when we had one mixed team, it was much more manageable, but our ability to have the success that we had, such that there was a full girls squad and a JV boys team, was a result of our coed roots when we made that transition.

Even though I personally don't care for coed, it's not the experience I enjoy the most, I don't think that saying outright that it's bad for all girls in all situations is true. Nor would I want to micromanage a community if they have something that works for them.

It's really really hard to simply form a girls team and sustain it. It takes a ton of work and dedication. The more advocates that you have, the more people you include and the better the experience, the stronger the likelihood of success. If it's coed that works to get more girls playing and down the line and creates the foundation for more girls teams, I think that's awesome. If coed is a turn off and active recruiting and girls skills clinics gets a girls team formed, I'm all for that as well. Whatever it takes to get more girls in the door and keeps them playing is wonderful in my eyes.

But please folks, promise me that the "open" division won't be a justification for a lack of girls teams. And go to your local league organizers and ask for help, most to news groups and seek volunteers to support your girls programs. And talk to me, I'll help you too.

There are 2 task forces that are currently being set up by the UPA that will work with getting more girls to start and keep playing Ultimate. One is focused on youth and the other on women. If you want to be involved with either task force by providing feedback on your experiences or ideas, please contact me at

Thanks, and I'll see many of you in a couple days in Blaine. :)


The Pulse said...

I think that currently, the majority of girls growth comes from strong leagues and strong open teams. The girls teams at Westerns and in the west generally come from a strong league background - DiscNW, Denver, and Minnesota, basically.

But on the east coast, the only girls teams that get any attention are the ones that are based off of strong open teams - just look at the girls teams at Easterns. The only team that didn't have a boys team in attendance in the past two years was Stuyvesant. The only teams that come from girls leagues are Andover and Amherst.

I absolutely think that girls leagues are the way to grow girls ultimate - PHUL has a two-tiered girls league, BUDA had a state championship, etc.

But in the absence of a strong league, schools with good boys teams can support and sustain girls teams as well - like Columbia, Watchung, Pennsbury, HB Woodlawn, etc.

I think that the reason the girls teams can piggyback off of the boys success is that if the team is good and enjoys some school or community support, it's not a big leap to extend that to supporting a girls team. You wrote about advocates, and a good boys team provides a lot of those. They also provide a model for how to run the team, how to go to tournaments, how to interact with town and school officials, etc.

If any girls teams have managed to start at a public school before a boys team, that is an incredible credit to the girls there.

Also, despite the numbers at Easterns and Westerns this year and previous years, there were 10 more teams in Easterns states that played girls games or tournaments than in Westerns states.

Unfortunately, on the east coast the one- and two-school states like CT, VA, GA, NY, NJ, etc. are more common than on the west coast, which only has CA and OR. All three of those teams went to Westerns. The other 8 teams were from WA, CO, and MN. At Easterns, only MA had more than one school attending (3). Pennsylvania, which had 11 girls teams, didn't have a single team at Easterns.

Anonymous said...

Just to make sure we're differentiating between open and women's teams, here, Colorado has sent one girls team to Westerns in the history of the tounrnament (Lakewood/Broomfield in '06). In the next few years I'd like to see that number increase drastically.

Anonymous said...

While it is great that the Edmonds-Woodway team was started this year (the first non-Seattle single gender team) it was actually a combined ICS/Edmoonds team. It also suffered its growing pains. it had 7 players in its game against Lakeside and was forced to drop out of states due to poor turnout. It is very difficult starting a single gender team in Seattle, when every team in the division has been to Westerns. Hopefully, the Edmonds-Woodway program will be able to continue to field a girls team this year.

Ryan, the reason why coed is popular in Seattle is because of the reasons above and also, the structure is such that all you have to do is show up. A team can be 12 people. For my high school, we started with people we knew and that is what is currently sustaining us. As more and more people join, we will consider breaking into single gender, but the situation that we are in is one that I think is replicated through Seattle, in that schools don't have the consistent 20-30 person turnout that two single gender teams (replacing one mixed team) require to be competitive.


The Pulse said...

"A team can be 12 people" - an open team can be 7 people. Fox Chapel won PA states with 4-5 girls. I'd think that "just showing up" would lend itself to open - what if 10 guys are what a school can get? 10 guys can play against 5 guys and 5 girls in open but not in coed.

I'm really just curious about how this came about, not trying to be overly critical. Just trying to understand it.

I also don't really understand why having so many good single gender programs would be a reason restricting change - wouldn't it prove that going single gender can make a team stronger?

I also think that recruitment is somewhat stifled by coed, when young freshmen or middle schoolers are trying out for a team and have to compete for 3 or 4 spots on the line instead of 7 - the eighth guy on a coed team plays much, much less than the eighth guy on an open team. Likewise for girls.

CHS has only really started to keep freshmen that wouldn't get playing time on the A team around by focusing on them with a B team and getting them lots and lots of playing time and tournament experience.

My freshman year only 2 freshmen didn't quit after the fall season. I started playing in the spring. Those other two players quit the following fall. That spring we finally started to send a B team to tournaments in earnest, and ever since then we've had much better retention, even to the point of having juniors on the B team who keep playing even though they're not in a position to make the A team.

We got a lot of people who wouldn't have played otherwise, and some of them have developed into important A team players. If they'd gone through the system a couple years earlier, they probably would have gotten frustrated and quit.

Just a thought. And a digression.

Anonymous said...

Alex Walker?

FNAM said...

As the coach of the Edmonds-Woodway co-ed team and the Youth Coordinator for DiscNW I thought I'd throw in a few cents of my own.

As Alex wrote - the Edmonds/ICS combined girls team did have some growing pains but I'm pretty sure that we'll be fielding an ALL Edmonds-Woodway girls team this coming Spring. (not to mention most of the ICS girls that played just graduated)

One thing that seems overlooked in these discussions thus far is school-size.

For the record ICS is a tiny tiny tiny school and DiscNW gives them leeway in terms of letting them get players from other district schools that don't have teams of their own.
(see our eligibility guidelines at

Edmonds-Woodway on the other hand should really have less problems getting a girls team b/c:

1. They have a great feeder system from the Edmonds Middle School program run by an amazing local organzier (you go Jeff!).

2. Their school is HUGE. Something like 1800 students I think.

So I agree with what another poster said about not recruiting enough.

I think the captain of my co-ed team (Hannah Jones - exceptional talent and should've been playing at YCC this year - but don't worry - she'll be there next year as a senior) and the other girls are doing a great job this summer finding more girls to play.

So I have a weird situation where if my co-ed team did split .. we'd have enough for a girls team but not enough for a boys team. Odd huh?

Anyways - what I'm getting at is that school size is a big factor too.

One other thing... (this is quite disjointed I know)

When I was in HS (Livingston HS - Livingston, NJ - class of 91 - Go Lancers!) I started a team my junior that got wrecked by everyone except West Windsor and Princeton Day School. Columbia HS, Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Tottenville, etc all destroyed us.

Teams would fight during captain's meetings at Stuy Invitationals about getting us in their pool.

But by my senior year we were able to beat every team in NJ (even Columbia in our final game of the season! 15-9!!!!). We still had problems against Science and Stuy but those teams were going to Worlds back then so whatevers.

I think BXSCIENCE had the best team name of all... "Green Grass and Shade" and they were pretty good too! Check out chapter four on them in "Ultimate: The First Four Decades"

Teams can definitely start at the bottom of the barrel and still move up quickly.

I'll also be at Blaine this weekend if anyone wants to chat. I'll be limping around the Seattle YCC teams~

Anonymous said...

Numbers on your shorts is pretty sweet and you are identified as an individual player. Some people like the idea of having their favorite number on their jerseys and shorts, plus anything to help the ultimate based lines (VC Ultimate, Gaia, Breakmark) is great!

Is it a crime to want to look and feel hardcore and uniform? Don't we all love men in uniform haha

The Pulse said...

Until Bronx Science got banned from Amherst and fell apart as a team. That's a fun story I haven't heard in a while.

I can't believe we *ever* lost to Livingston! Terrible ...

I think that you can always pick up at least 7 freshmen to help replenish a team in the fall, no matter how big your school is or how good your team is. It becomes much easier if you have a "freshman club fair" or something similar.

I'll be on the lookout for you and others this weekend - I'm always up for getting other perspectives.