Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ultimate Tournament Staff Appreciation Day

Today is Ultimate Tournament Staff Appreciation Day!
From local leagues to national events; from Sectionals to Regionals, from hats to Worlds, ultimate tournaments happen because of hardworking individuals. Tournament Directors (TDs) and their staff do so much – schedule, budget, plan, setup, field lining, feeding, measuring, calling, texting, emailing, confirming, directing, volunteer recruitment, keeping time, air-horning, checking weather, rechecking weather, selling merchandise, hiring trainers, delegating, getting water, finding backup fields (when necessary), cleanup, score reporting and so much more – to organize competition for the sport of ultimate. For these reasons and more, September 18th is a day to take time to appreciate Ultimate Tournament Staff.

Want to celebrate Ultimate Tournament Staff Appreciation day?
  • Post an appreciative message on social media and tag the tournament account.
  • Post a photo of a recent ultimate tournament with a complimentary message.
  • Hug &/or high-five tourney staff if you see them in-person.
Why celebrate Ultimate Tournament Staff Appreciation day?
Join this grassroots movement to publicly recognize these important people in the sport of ultimate. Or, don't; just take for granted the time and energy ultimate tournament staff/volunteers spend so you can play ultimate games.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Freestyle Competition to Debut at Inaugural World Urban Games

The first edition of the World Urban Games (WUG) will take place September 13 through 15 in Budapest. The WUG promise is to be the ultimate global showcase for a new generation of urban sports. This multi-sport event is planned to be held every two years and will encompass a wide range of activities and events, from sport competitions to showcases and demonstrations featuring music, dance and urban culture.

One of the competition sports of the WUG program is "Flying Disc Freestyle," which WUG describes as: "a cooperative sport that combines the basic game of throw and catch with aspects of gymnastics, dance, martial arts, and other physical disciplines. It's both a creative art and an athletic challenge."

The World Flying Disc Federation's Freestyle Committee, in consultation with the Freestyle Players Associationselected 12 mixed gender Freestyle teams (pairs) from 9 different countries. They are:
1. Juliana Korver/Ryan Young (USA)

2. Emma Kahle/Daniel O’Neill (USA)

3. Bianca Strunz/Fabian Dinklage (GER)

4. Ilka Simon/Waldemar Wagner (GER)

5. Maxine Mittempergher/Edo Turri (ITA)

6. Anna Bragagnolo/Andrea Rimatori (ITA)

7. Joakim Arveskar/Vendella Arveskar (SWE)

8. Meirav Pinhas/Yuval Reikoren (ISR)

9. Benedicte Audet/Brett Schramek (CAN)

10. Marysia Ryszarda Krajewska/Kuba Radwanska (POL)

11. Sophie Rickers/Gordon Brown (GBR)

12. Paola Andrea Garcia Palaez/Pablo Azul (COL)

Freestyle is sharing the same venue as 3x3 basketball. View the full schedule.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chart: 2019 USAU Triple Crown Tour Regional Bid Allocations

The 48 bids to USA Ultimate Club Nationals were allocated to the 8 geographic regions. The Northeast region earned the most bids with 10 (3 in Men's + 3 in Mixed + 4 in Women's). Teams will be vying for one Nationals bid in 8 competitions - Great Lakes Men's, Mixed Women's; Mid-Atlantic Women's; North Central Men's, Mixed Women's; and South Central Women's.

Region(s) with the most bids...
in the Men's Division = Northeast, Northwest (3 ea)
in the Mixed Division = Northeast, Northwest (3 ea)
in the Women's Division = Northeast (4)

Compare to last year.

[Data via USAU; chart compiled by SLUDGE]

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Elizabeth Mosquera Wins 2019 PUL MVP

Congratulations to Elizabeth Mosquera (Medellin Revolution) for winning the 2019 Premier Ultimate League Most Valuable Player (or "M.V.PULayer").

Mosquera led the league as +27 in +/- and 16 D's. Mosquera was 2nd in most points played (124). According to PUL stats, Mosquera caught 100 passes - including 16 goals - and only dropped 1. She also helped her team Revo win the inaugural Premier Ultimate League championship.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Deschutes Brewery Named Title Sponsor of AUDL 2020 Season

Brewery not named Surly to be title sponsor of AUDL 2020 season.

Deschutes (pronounced Da-Shootz) Brewery was announced as the presenting partner and official beer of the American Ultimate Disc League in 2020. AUDL 2020 jerseys will have the Deschutes insignia on them as well. Ultiworld reported the 1-year deal was low to mid six figures brokered by Maestroe Sports & Entertainment.

Deschutes, the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States, is headquartered in Bend, Oregon - a state where AUDL plans to start a team. They also have a presence on the East Coast with a tasting room in Roanoke, Virginia. The etymology of the brewery's name is the Deschutes River, in central Oregon, which is a major tributary of the Columbia River.

Minnesota Wind Chill are currently owned by Surly Brewing, the 34th largest U.S. craft brewing company. Surly is also a long-time supporter of masters ultimate teams in the Twin Cities which are named after, sponsored, and suds supplied by the brewery.

Current advertising shows Deschutes Brewery appealing to ultimate players:

Only one team - Detroit Mechanix - out of the 21 AUDL teams in 2019 season play at a high school, which will definitely impact Detroit's ability to serve Deschutes selections; Detroit played at Grand Rapids Christian High School in past seasons.

Of note, Cleats and Cufflinks podcast [episode 44; April 2016] indicated that a Major League Ultimate would not accept a "vice" brand (e.g. beer, alcohol, tobacco) as a jersey sponsor because of inappropriateness message to youth. They could sponsor the league, just not the jersey.  MLU folded after their 2016 season.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

New York Empire Win AUDL 2019 Championship

New York Empire won the American Ultimate Disc League 2019 championship today over Dallas Roughnecks. The Empire went (12-0) in the regular season, won the East Division Championship, their semifinal at AUDL Championship Weekend 8 and the championship game to post an undefeated season at (15-0).
This is New York Empire's first AUDL title.

Friday, August 09, 2019

AUDL Championship Weekend 8 (2019)

The final 3 games of the American Ultimate Disc League 2019 season will take place this weekend at the AUDL Championship Weekend. AUDL's 8th season began in early April.

The final four teams out of 21 AUDL teams advanced to the AUDL Championship Weekend. New York Empire (12-0; 1-0) returns for the 2nd consecutive trip, Dallas Roughnecks (8-4; 1-0) return for their 4th time in a row, Indianapolis AlleyCats (8-4; 1-0) return for the first time since 2012, and San Diego Growlers (10-2; 1-0) advance for the first time in franchise history.

Three division champions advance to AUDL Championship Weekend along with perennial South Division champion Dallas Roughnecks, who won over the top seed in the South Division Championship game - the only upset by seeding in the AUDL playoffs.

The Championship Weekend returns to California. This time, though, it's not at the 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium (like in 2015); the championship games will be played at the football stadium of Foothill Community College, with ~5500 capacity -- the home field of the San Jose Spiders.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

History of AUDL Championship Locations

The American Ultimate Disc League championship is this upcoming weekend in California. It's the 8th annual championship in AUDL history.

Below is a history of each AUDL championship's location.
2012: Detroit, MI @ Pontiac Silverdome

2013: Chicago, IL @ Lane Tech High School Stadium

2014: Toronto, ON @ Varsity Stadium One

2015: San Jose, CA @ Avaya Stadium

2016: Madison, WI @ Breese Stevens Field

2017: Montreal, QC @ Claude Robillard Sports Complex

2018: Madison, WI @ Breese Stevens Field

2019: Los Altos Hills, CA @ Foothill College Stadium

Hosting of AUDL Championship by Division
 AUDL Division  Qty
 Midwest  4
 East  2
 West  2
 South  0

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Detroit Mechanix Post Winless Season, Again

Just like in 2014, 2015 and 2018, the 2019 Detroit Mechanix did it again. Zero wins in 12 regular season games for the 8-year team. This is Detroit's 4th winless season in the American Ultimate Disc League.
The Detroit Mechanix end their 8th consecutive losing season with a average of scoring 14.5 goals and giving up just over 23 (23.08) goals per loss. Unsurprisingly, Detroit finished in last place of the Midwest Division again.

The Mechanix winless streak is now at 36 games and 829 days. Detroit has not won an AUDL game since April 29, 2017 - an early 2017 season win over Chicago Wildfire.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

DC Ultimate Player Rowan McDonnell Amazes With Athletic Score

During Washington D.C.'s Truck Stop semifinal of USA Ultimate's U.S. Open Championships on Saturday August 3, DC's Rowan McDonnell displayed incredible wherewithal to jump, hop and toe the end zone sideline while tracking and eventually catching a hanging disc.

[video via USA Ultimate/ESPN3]

ESPN SportsCenter agrees:

Similar athleticism was seen by Jesse Shofner in 2018.

My attempt to update Rowan to Th-rowan has not caught on, but maybe now "Toe-In" McDonnell? Rowan commented on his athletic catch: "I don't know. just another way to catch the frisbee.'

Truck Stop would lose the semifinal to New York PoNY by the score of 10-14, and finish in 3rd place at the 2019 U.S. Open that was hosted in Blaine, Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Washington DC to Host America Ultimate Disc League All-Star in 2020

The (202) will be hosting the 2020 AUDL All-Star Game.

The American Ultimate Disc League shared the 2020 game location without mention in June.

AUDL broadcasts have shown field signs advertising the 2020 game in DC:

The D.C. Breeze website indicates they are hosting next year's AUDL All-Star game in June 2020:

The AUDL website is currently promoting the 2020 event:

No further information or details have been made available via AUDL or Events DC.

The DC Breeze play in the District at Catholic University's Carlini Field - home to CU's soccer teams and women's lacrosse - opened on March 20, 2019. Prior to the 2019 season, the Breeze played on the football field at CU's Cardinal Stadium.

AUDL hosted their first at the home field of the Madison Radicals on June 8, 2019. Thirty-two players representing all 21 AUDL teams played in the exhibition game. Washington DC Breeze was represented at the 2019 all-star game by one player - Rowan McDonnell, who was AUDL MVP 2018.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

US Senator Bob Menendez Supports Beach Ultimate

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) stood on the beach in Manasquan, New Jersey, to raise awareness about beach safety and, in other words, to encourage playing beach ultimate.

"In my view, the only things that should be flying through air on a sunny day at the beach should be seagulls and Frisbees." 
--Senator Bob Menedez (D-NJ)

Wildwood Beach Ultimate (W2BU) Tournament - the world's largest beach ultimate event - could not agree more with their state senator.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Chart: History of AUDL Division Champions (2012-2019)

AUDL 2019 division championships have been crowned.

Indianapolis AlleyCats return to AUDL Championship Weekend since the league's inaugural season. Back in 2012 the AlleyCats played in what was then called the "Western" Conference/Division.

Dallas Roughnecks won their 4th South Division championship - a title they have won every year since they joined the AUDL (2016).

New York Empire won their 2nd consecutive (2018, 2019) East Division Championship.

San Diego Growlers won their first West Division championship. All current West Division teams have now earned a bid to American Ultimate Disc League Championship Weekend.

 Team  Previous Divisional Championship
 Empire  2018
 Roughnecks  2018
 AlleyCats  2012
 Growlers  n/a

Philadelphia Spinners (2012) and San Francisco FlameThrowers (2017) are the only division champ who are no longer in the league.Twelve different teams have ever won an AUDL  division title.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

UK PM Boris Johnson Downplayed His Chances of Becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

In 2015, Boris Johnson said: "It is more likely that I will be reincarnated as an olive, locked in a disused fridge, decapitated by a flying frisbee." when asked  about his chances of becoming U.K. prime minister.

[h/t Dusty Rhodes]

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

USA Player Stats at 2019 World U24 Ultimate Championships

The U.S.A. Under-24 National Teams went undefeated in Germany at the WFDF 2019 Under-24 Worlds. Below are individual U.S. players stats on their gold-medal teams.

USA U24 Women's Team (10-0); gold medal winners.
+Angela Zhu is the only U.S. player to average at least 1 assist and 1 goal; in 10 games, Zhu threw 13 assists (1.3/game) and caught 11 goals (1.1 goals/game).
+Top assist leaders for women's team: Arielle Nelson, Samiya Ismail (16), Angela Zhu (13)
+Top scorers for women's team: Claire Trop (18), Caitlyn Lee (15), Carly Campana, Dena Elimelech (13), Angela Zhu (11)
+All players on the women's roster recorded at least 1 assist and 1 goal.

USA U24 Mixed Team (10-0); gold medal winners.
+Joe White posted the highest combined total of Assists + Goals of any U.S. player with 30 (21 assists + 9 goals).
+Top assist leaders for mixed team:Joe White (21), Matthew Gouchoe-Hanas (13), Brett Gramann (10)
+Top scorers for mixed team: Anders Olsen (11), Mary Rippe, Anne Worth (10)

USA U24 Men's Team (11-0); gold medal winners.
+Malcolm Hecht led all U.S. players with 26 assists (in 10 games). Tannor Johnson was the leading scorer of all U.S. players with 20 goals (11 games).
+Top assist leaders for men's team: Malcolm Hecht (26), Elijah Long, Eric Sjostom (12)
+Top scorers for men's team: Tannor Johnson (20), Jasper Tom, Alexander Cuizon Tice (12), Nathan Pettyjohn, Christian Boxley (11)

[DATA via WU24UC event site; compiled by SLUDGE]

Monday, July 22, 2019

WFDF 2019 Asia Oceanic Ultimate and Guts Championships

The Asia Oceanic Ultimate and Guts Championships begin this week in Shanghai.

This article claims it will be "China's biggest ultimate tournament ever."

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Results of USA Ultimate 2019 Masters Championships

USA Ultimate's Masters Championships with 88 teams competing concluded last weekend. No #1-seeds won their divisional championship. The 11-seed Ottawa Solstice was the lowest seed to win a division (Grand Masters - Women).

Championship results according to USAU event site:

Masters - Women
Oakland Golden Poppies (2) 15-8 over Seattle iRot (1); Denver Molly Grey (5) won 3rd.

Masters - Men 
Seattle Voltron 2020 (6) 15-11 over North Carolina Boneyard (1). Denver Johnny Encore (3) won 3rd.

Masters - Mixed 
Bay Area Cool Biz (3) 15-4 win over Minneapolis Hey Babe (3); Nashville/Huntsville Old #7 (8) won 3rd.

Grand Masters - Women
Ottawa Solstice (11) 15-8 over Boston Boston (2). Atlanta Atlantiques (7) finished 3rd.

Grand Masters - Men 
Minneapolis Surly GM (3) 15-10 win over Colorado Johnny Walker (1); Santa Barbara Eldors (2) won 3rd.

Great Grand Masters - Men 
San Francisco Relics (2) 15-11 win over Chicago CHRONIC (5); DoG (3) won 3rd.

All the winners won 100 free custom UltraStars courtesy of Discraft. American teams that were tops in their division qualify to represent the United States at 2020 World Masters Ultimate Championships in Australia.

Congratulations to USA Ultimate National Teams at U24 Worlds 2019

Congratulations to all U.S.A. Ultimate National Team players, coaches and staff involved with winning a combined 3 gold medals at 2019 Worlds in Germany.

Recognition of the 75 athletes from the U.S. teams:

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Results at WFDF U24 Worlds 2019

It's over at Under-24 Worlds in Heidelberg, Germany!

USA National Teams swept the 3 divisions at the WFDF World U24 Ultimate Championships - just like in 2013 and in 2018. Collectively, the USA teams were perfect at the international tournament; posting a combined (31-0) record [men (11-0) + mixed (10-0) + women (10-0)].

SILVER: Canada
SPIRIT: Demark

BRONZE: Singapore*
*Singapore's first-ever medal at the World Under-24 Ultimate Championship
FOURTH: Latvia
SPIRIT: South Africa

BRONZE: Canada
FOURTH: Colombia
SPIRIT: Australia

[data source]

Friday, July 19, 2019

CHART: Top-8 Countries in Each Division at U24 Worlds

WFDF Under-24 Ultimate Championships in Germany finished pool play. Fourteen (14) different countries of the 29 total countries are represented in the top tier of teams. Only Canada, Japan, and the United States have all 3 of their teams in the top-8 in each division.

NOTES: Men's and Mixed top teams were in 8-team bracket; the women's top teams were placed in a  4-team championship bracket.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Color of Ultimate: ATL documentary

After a successful event in Atlanta in June 2019, this documentary covers covers how race, socioeconomic status, and inequity has influenced participating players both on and off the ultimate field.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chart: Country Participation at WFDF 2019 Under-24 Ultimate Championships

There are fifty-one (51) National ultimate teams from 29 countries are scheduled to compete in the upcoming WFDF World Under-24 Ultimate Championships. There will be 21 mixed teams, 18 teams in the men's division and 12 teams in the women's division at U24 Worlds.

Nine (9) countries will be competing in all 3 divisions (men's, women's and mixed) -- Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and the United States. The majority of countries (16) are sending one (1) team to this international event.

[Data source:; Chart by SLUDGE]

Thursday, July 11, 2019

College Representation on USA National Team Rosters at World Under-24 Championships

WFDF's 2019 World Under-24 Ultimate Championships (WU24) starts this weekend in Germany. USA National Teams will be represented in the men's, mixed and women's divisions. A total of seventy-five (75) players were selected to represent the US on the active rosters; 24 on men's, 26 on mixed, and 25 on the US women's roster.

Carleton College leads with the most players with 10, followed by UNC (6), Oregon (5) and Dartmouth (4). A total of forty-one (41) of colleges are represented on the USA Ultimate National teams at 2019 U24 Worlds.

NOTES: Unaffiliated player = Clea Poklemba (mixed) is from Portland, Oregon.
Stacy Gaskill representing Colorado, will be freshman in fall 2019.
Abby Hecko representing Washington, will be freshman in fall 2019.

[Updated from original chart with final rostering; data via USA Ultimate]

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

WFDF 2019 World Under-24 Ultimate Championships (Heidelberg, Germany)

The World Flying Disc Federation 2019 World Under-24 Ultimate Championships (WU24) will be hosted in the city of Heidelberg, Germany, from July 13th to July 20th. The event will feature national Ultimate teams in the following divisions: Men's U24 (18 teams), Women's U24 (12 teams) and Mixed U24 (21 teams). Located about 78 km (48 mi) south of Frankfurt, Heidelberg is the fifth-largest city in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

There are 51 teams from 29 countries scheduled to compete in the event.

Monday, July 01, 2019

D.C. Ultimate Player Delrico Johnson Highlighted by ESPN

Delrico Johnson of Washington D.C. Truck Stop (USA Ultimate Club) and D.C. Breeze (AUDL) was featured on ESPN's twitter with his astounding catch during the Color of Ultimate exhibition game on June 22 in Atlanta.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Medellin Revolution Win 2019 Premier Ultimate League Title

Congratulations to Medellín Revolution for completing an undefeated season in the 2019 Premier Ultimate League. With a familiar roster, Revo entered the season as heavy favorites and posted a (5-0) record in the regular season - 4 games of which were on the road. Revolution began their season on opening day of the league, and finished on the last game of the season.

In the postseason in Atlanta, the team from Colombia battled Atlanta for a 1-goal win in the semifinals, and went on to win the finals the next day; a 20-14 (9-7 halftime) victory against Raleigh Radiance. Revolution end the season with a perfect (7-0) record and claim to the first title of the Premier Ultimate Leagued in its "pilot" season.

Felicidades, Revo!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Premier Ultimate League 2019 Championship Weekend

After a 9-week regular season, the Premier Ultimate League will host its inaugural postseason PULayoffs in Atlanta this weekend. The semifinals feature: 
  • New York Gridlock (4-1) versus Raleigh Radiance (3-2); Radiance beat Gridlock by 9 goals in week 5.
  • Medellín Revolution (5-0) versus Atlanta Soul* (2-3); Revolution handily beat the Soul in weeks 1 and 3. 

Semifinals will be played tonight (Friday), and the championship game will be played the tomorrow at 12:30pm.

Promotions from PUL:

*Austin Torch (3-2) finished in 4th place in the final standings - one spot above Atlanta. At the start of the PUL season, the PUL Board of Directors voted to give the host city (Atlanta) an automatic bid to the playoffs.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Part 4: A Conversation about Major League Ultimate with Nic Darling

Below is the final portion of a multiple-part series documenting our conversation with Nic Darling, Executive VP and Founder of Major League Ultimate (2012-2016). In this installment, Nic talks about the MLU disc, his sales pitch, and MLU's sports content.

Part 1:

Part 2: 

Part 3:

This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The "Disc"-ision
SLUDGE: Let's talk about Major League Ultimate disc. In retrospect, would you choose Innova again?
Nic Darling: 100% and I would do that again because it was the best thing—not only for the MLU at the time, but for the sport. And I still believe it, and I think that people's failure to understand that and embrace it is a failure that has hurt the sport. My first call when we decided to do this was actually to a product manager at Wham-O, and we had a really interesting conversation. But it ended up not going anywhere at a certain point because their disc just wasn't usable in its form. We tested it and had a lot of throwers throw with it, but it just wasn't a usable disc in our feeling. And Wham-O expressed some interest in creating a "professional ultimate disc", but their product life cycles are really long and trying to get that done in the time frame we were trying to do it in was impossible.

My first call when we decided to do [a new league disc] was actually to a product manager at Wham-O...but it just wasn't a usable disc in our feeling.

So then I called Innova, and they were immediately very interested in what we were doing. I still have a huge amount of respect for that company, they were amazing partners to work with. I had the same argument with them, the Pulsar that was out at that point was not good enough to play in our league. It lacked stability and the distance wasn't great on it. And I'd played with their golf discs long enough to know that they had the capabilities engineering-wise and technology-wise to make something better, and they were interested in doing that. And it turned out our timing was really good. They had been talking about doing something anyway, and so over the course of a number of months, they sent us a variety of different molds to test, different plastics to test.

We had throwers in a bunch of different cities around the country try them, tested them out all over and eventually landed on the Pulsar. Innova invested a good amount of money into the process. They invested a ton of frisbees into the process, including thousands and thousands which we gave away to schools and to kids and to youth programs and that was what they were really passionate about, was getting frisbees in people's hands. We still had a couple of years left in the deal and I don't see any reason that would've stopped being a positive relationship going forward. I also stand by the disc itself. I like it better. I like throwing it better. I can say now that because of my tiny, little hands, I like catching the Discraft a little bit better because the rim is a little lower and it's a little curved. But I prefer throwing the Pulsar.

I had a great conversation with Innova about the Pulsar. We went out, we talked to players maybe after the second year, and they gave feedback on the disc and what they liked, what they didn't like. And I went back, and a lot of what players didn't like is when I throw inside out, I wanna leave it way inside out, and have it flatten, and I want it to tail off this way. At the end of the conversation, Innova's like, "So, they want us to make our disc worse? I don't understand. They want us to engineer the good stuff out of it?"  It was very confusing, because they're disc engineers.

SLUDGE: I remember at the end of the first season, there was a player survey and one of the questions was about, do you like this disc? Do you remember?
Nic: Yeah, I do remember. By and large, people didn't care, or they claimed not to. Some people liked it, a bunch of people didn't like it. But the most people were just like, "Whatever." And I think a lot of 'em too, because we explained it better probably to the players than anybody else, a lot of them got that the reason you're on the field is 'cause these guys are putting money into this. If we didn't sign that deal, we wouldn't be able to do a lot of the other stuff that we're doing. It's always the case. And that's a hard thing for people to remember. It's a business.

If you pay for it, if you pay dues, then you should expect to get what you're paying for and to get what you like out of it, to an extent. It's still a democracy, 'cause there's a lot of people paying for it, it's aggregate power.

And we still believe that players deserve a disc that can do what it needs to do. Otherwise I would have followed that Wham-O trail, and probably been able to chase more money. But the Wham-O disc just wasn't good enough to do what players needed to be able to do with it on the field; the Pulsar was. [The Innova Pulsar] was different and that was frustrating to some players.

Brandon Malecek is a good example. He got super frustrated because it didn't do what he expected it to do. But he still was a ridiculous thrower, and he could put that thing 100 yards on a line. But a lot of players, in their response for that survey, were like, "I don't care."

SLUDGE: Any other disc vendors that were in the conversation?
Nic: Oh yeah. We had actually some early conversations with Vibram, creating a new type of ultimate disc. I always think the disc has a lot of room to evolve.

SLUDGE: I remember you mentioned on Cleats & Cufflinks about having a tracker or sensor in the disc.
Nic: Oh, I had a good conversation with the people at Intel about that. There's so much cool stuff you can do.

SLUDGE: I assume MLU utilized a football field because the lines were there and better for optics, right? But playing or having experience for four seasons, and having played club, what do you think is the optimal size field?
Nic: For those that were playing in MLU, the larger field is definitely optimum. On a club field top level players are too fast, too strong, that space is not enough to really get everything out of them, I don't think. I love the big swing passes, I love the long set up puts and the way these guys go. I don't think it's an appropriate field size for amateur, rec league players necessarily, or for youth players.

For those that were playing in MLU, the larger field is definitely optimum. On a club field top level players are too fast, too strong, that space is not enough to really get everything out of them.

SLUDGE: Do you think a 53-yard wide field is accurate?
Nic: I wanted to set it at 50.  But once we said 53 we kept it. Because, statistics being as important as they were to our organization, Luke, we really wanted to make sure that we had just total consistency in field size. I come from a soccer background, so I'm not as much of a stickler about that. Soccer fields have a range, and I'm fine with that. But people were very adamant that it had to be the exact size, which is fair.

SLUDGE: What about retaining the 10-yard end zones? It bothered me that end zones were extended into the playing field.
Nic: It drove me nuts. I tried to convince everyone that a 10-yard end zone was enough. I can't remember why I lost that battle. I definitely fought for the 10 yard end zone, to just use the football end zones. It is a different sport, so the bigger end zone do make some sense to me, because of the way the disc floats. It's a little tougher to get it to drop exactly where you want it to. But these guys are good... feel like that adjustment could easily be made, and I think visually it would have been a lot better. But I did love the way it looked when I got to paint the lines. But yeah that was the big driver. It didn't make any sense, there was no real way to take it to real television. I can go to ESPN three, right? You just send a video they'll put it up. To go to a real TV and play on a football field but play with a weird sideline that was just cutting in the middle, it looked terrible.

Soccer had this problem in the US when they used to play on the football fields in New England and things like that. The MLS was playing on football fields and it just looked terrible. And we struggled with that all the time at MLU as we constantly were looking for stadiums or venues where we could paint lines. They just don't exist unless you have a lot of money. MLS stadiums were great, PPL park was great because of that but tough location.

SLUDGE: That painted field for the 2014 MLU Championships was beautiful.
Nic: I remember the game between DC and Vancouver really well, because that's the first time we got to paint our field - just amazing. And, I remember the Vancouver guys when they landed saying they saw it from the airplane.  It was hard to go back to a football field.

SLUDGE: One area, though subtle, that distinguished MLU was not allowing hats. You look at how players wear their hats, and it's all different. Take it away; it's all the same.
Nic: Oh yeah, that was me. That was almost solely me. I was dying on that hill. It's a field sport. You don't wear hats in a field sport. Nobody wears hats in a field sport. Some people wear helmets. Maybe we should wear helmets.

SLUDGE: Did MLU’s hat ban help when approaching potential sponsors?
Nic: Yeah, so my pitch and my idea was, "Look at this sport, people, advertisers, content marketers, anyone who's in marketing branding for big companies, right now is looking for content." They're looking for content that they can brand, that they can collaborate with, that they get on top of. And they particularly like sports content because it's immediate. And so little is immediate now. DVR, Netflix, all these things takes all the immediacy out of content. I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want.

MLU's particular sports content was attractive. The type of athletes that we had, even if you want to go down to the way players look, the way they dress, these things all fit really well with a lot of brands we're looking for.

MLU's particular sports content was attractive. The type of athletes that we had, even if you want to go down to the way players look, the way they dress, these things all fit really well with a lot of brands we're looking for. So there were a lot of positive brand attributes that I thought we could leverage, and I thought there was a lot of opportunity there. But we had to approach it from that being the primary objective. And I don't think we always did that, and I think that hurt us sometimes.

There were a lot of choices that were made that I think were frustrating to players on some level, but were super important, because each thing that we did like that... So the ‘No Hats’ thing is a great example. The ‘No Hats’ rule let us get future apparel deals, because we showed that we had a level of control over our product. And I used it in pitches. I was like, "Here's what Ultimate looks like in the club level, and here's how players dress, and how they wear hats." We said no hats, our players agreed, because they understand that it's important. And that's why Puma, Canterbury, that's why you should work with us, because our players are committed to what we're doing, and are able to be disciplined in these areas that are important to you.

I used it in pitches...."Here's what Ultimate looks like in the club level, and here's how players dress, and how they wear hats." ... And that's why you should work with us, because our players are committed to what we're doing, and are able to be disciplined in these areas that are important to you.

And this is a problem for every sport, by the way. Uniform rules are a problem for everyone. What socks are they wearing? What knee braces? What shoes? What under-gear? So the hat thing had a lot of reasons behind it. Aesthetically, it's better. It's better from an aesthetic level, better packaging. From a gameplay level, it makes more sense. How many guys throw their hats off when they're going out to play. Now you've gotta go fetch a hat. It's gonna slow things down. There were all sorts of reasons. And what if you throw your hat off, and it hits a guy in the face who's going for a disc? Is that a foul? Is that an intentional foul? There are all those reasons, but the biggest one is the one, that some people had trouble understanding was that was the example of what it would mean to future partners that we could make those kinds of decisions and stick to them.

SLUDGE: Can you talk about some of the constraints about why they weren't interested in it?
Nic: Sure. I mean those reasons were endless. Some primary reasons; the sport's not established enough, the audience size needs to improve. Depends on the brand, what they care about more, whether it's live or it's online. But there's certain metrics you need to hit to crack anyone's interest level. So, it just depended on who you were talking with. Certainly, it's always... The main things were audience size and overall reach, overall engagement, 'cause we were still building all those legs. The positives were, everyone loved the demographics. The sport made sense to people, relatively quickly. They could see it, they were like, "I get it. I get what's happening."

The sport made sense to people, relatively quickly.

SLUDGE: Did they know what ultimate frisbee was? Or did you have to show them something?
Nic: Some people knew, some people didn't. Everybody knows somebody who plays, it feels like, but they don't necessarily understand what the actual sport is, or what the level is. The first year was like pulling teeth.

Some people knew, some people didn't. Everybody knows somebody who plays, it feels like, but they don't necessarily understand what the actual sport is, or what the level is. The first year was like pulling teeth.

You had to really hit people over the head with it hard. But by the third year, you were like, "Oh yeah, I saw that on ESPN," or, "Yeah, you guys were on Comcast the other day, I saw that." That's what you have to do. You have to keep making strides. And we also developed partnerships like with Whistle Sports. That was a big partnership, because that got us into a lot of places we couldn't get otherwise, and it got our content to people who wouldn't have seen us otherwise. All those little moves that we made were important too. But yeah, there were still things to overcome. How many eyeballs can you deliver me, and how much do those eyeballs care about what they're seeing? And if you can't make a compelling case for those two things, you're not gonna land anybody.

Like when we went to pitch Fiat... So [MLU Sales Associate] Burt Katzen, I think was the guy who had made the contact and warmed up that deal. And then Jonathan McQueen was the sales manager at the time, and he had worked with the guy a little bit. And then I always did our pitches for big deals, so I could write the pitches and I could build the decks. And so I wanted us all at this meeting, and I felt like we should show up in force, the three of us out there. But financially, we didn't wanna spring for three flights and hotels and all that stuff, so we drove to Detroit. And I drove us straight through. I can't remember where we stopped, but almost all the way out in one day. And then we finished it up and did our meeting. 

We bootstrapped so many things so that we could spend the money elsewhere. 'Cause it's like, if we spend it there, then we can't invest it here. And we need to invest it here. So it was constant decisions. I traveled everywhere by BoltBus. I'd go up to Boston on the bus. I'd go to New York on the bus. I'd go to DC on the bus. And I'd go for big meetings, I'd pack my suit and try to fold it up. You were always playing that game of how can we scrape enough here, so that we can spend it over here where we think it matters more. That's the startup decision making process.


Friday, June 21, 2019

On This Day: Ultimate Frisbee Game Was First Publicized

On this day (June 21) in 1969, the sport of ultimate Frisbee was first publicized in a Newark Evening News article. Columbia High School student Joel Silver, contributing as a "Special Writer" for The Newark Evening News, introduced the team game of Frisbee (without ever mentioning it by name) to the people of New Jersey in a story entitled "Frisbee Flippers Form Teams."

From the article:
"There is a new sport at Columbia High School (CHS) in Maplewood-frisbee. Every day, students from the 10th through 12th grades take part in the newly popular game. Though many may consider the sport to be immature, these high school students are joining the thousands of other people in the country who are enjoying the fun and exercise of the game."
The inaugural game played in the springtime between the two CHS teams - the Council (included president of CHS Student Council) versus the Columbian team (sponsored by the CHS newspaper) - was mentioned:
"In the first meeting between the teams, the Columbian team won by an 11-7 margin."
Silver boasts:
"A number of frisbee-ers hold varying degrees in the International Frisbee Association."

The Newark Evening News was an American newspaper published in Newark, New Jersey. At its apex, the newspaper was widely regarded as the newspaper of record in New Jersey. Its last issue was printed on August 31, 1972.

[H/T Ultimate: The First Four Decades]

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ooops! UFO

Sorry I'm late. I boarded a Frisbee by mistake.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Premier Ultimate League Teams Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month with Colorful Logos

June is Pride Month and many Premier Ultimate League teams are celebrating with colorful team logos.


* Columbus' Ohio-state-paw logo did not change - it's always been rainbow color!!