Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ultimate in the News

Two more articles graced my inbox this morning that I want to share. The first is a great piece on women's Ultimate in the The New York Times' Fashion & Style section. Why is Ultimate in the Fashion & Style section? Because we're hip and cool, that's why. We're the William Shatner of the sports world.
Photo by Andrew Davis

"And the rise of women in Ultimate is another crucial part of the sport’s growth. Watching these women play, one can see the athleticism that has attracted them: gorgeous arcing throws, full-extension dives, insane vertical leaps, and discs pinched out of the sky with the barest of fingertips."

Next is a heartwrenching story of youth Ultimate in the inner-city, which I didn't actually read yet. Give me a break, I'm busy at work and feeling a little sick today. Whoever it was that told me Egg McMuffins were surprisingly nutritional deserves a sharp kick to the fruitstand.

Photo By Jim Bates

"Mr. Jamshid is what the kids of Bailey Gatzert Elementary call the school's guidance counselor. In 15 years, Jamshid Khajavi, who came here from Iran, has built one of Seattle's poorest inner-city schools into the quirkiest of sports dynasties. All as a way of mentoring kids."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pick-Up Problem

Mike Schelle here. It's a little known fact, sometimes even to myself, that I am CUDA's supposed coordinator for pick-up Ultimate. Or maybe I got voted out, it doesn't matter. What matters is that pick-up in Columbus has historically struggled for various reasons. Today I'm going to go over those problems and some possible solutions, then see if enough people are out there to get pick-up back on track.

Right now pick-up is advertised on our main website for Sundays at 3:00 PM at the Park of Roses. I've been here for three years, and only in the first were numbers ever consistent enough to be worth the trouble. Here are the problems as I see it.

1. With lots of college and club teams in Columbus, practices/games get in the way of coming to pick-up.

2. The times often change several times a year, and few people ever show up on time.

3. I lied, there really aren't any other problems.

You can't fix problem one. Club players aren't going to sacrifice practice/tournaments for pick-up. The good news is Columbus has 750,000 people in it, and only about 100 of them are playing club Ultimate. 200 tops. There are players - newer players, youth players, Masters (old) players and those just too busy to commit to club teams that can still make a vibrant pick-up group.

The second problem is the bigger problem, but ironically the easiest to fix. Are you ready? When you show up to pick-up whenever the hell you want, you are wasting everyone else's time. How am I supposed to set a field up at 3:00 and then assume people will show up at 3:30? 3:45? Exactly how much of my time should I waste before deciding to go home? And it's not just me - this is the same question every player is asking him/herself as they get in the car each Sunday. Why drive out to Whetstone when nobody might be there? How do I know I'm not wasting my time? It's a snowball effect that creates apathy until nobody bothers showing up.

There are several things we can do to fix the problem. Social networking is a great way to alleviate the risk in coming out every Sunday. The new CUDA Twitter feed is a perfect way to update the community Sunday mornings on the weather and liklihood of a game. If I know it's going to storm, I can post that pick-up is cancelled and nobody wastes their time. If I know there's a giant tourament that weekend and numbers will be unnaturally low, I can cancel and nobody wastes their time. The less people waste their time, the more goodwill they will have to show up the next weekend.

The second thing we can do is create a group of regular pick-up players right here, right now. If we get a core group together, with phone numbers that we can call when we need a few extra players one day, then we create trust. If I know ahead of time that John Doe and Mary Smith and so on and so forth will probably be there, then I am more likely to show up myself.

So if you want to play more Ultimate on Sundays, then email me at with the subject "Pick up." I will make a list serv to help coordinate games with, and we can decide if we like 3:00 or another time. Then, if the weather's nice, we can get things rolling this weekend.

And be sure to come out to Como Park tonight, for mixed pick-up at 6:00. Only lightning will keep us away, and numbers have been great despite the poor weather. If you have any comments about pick-up or in general, please add them to article with the links below. It's easy and I don't think you have to sign up for Blogger or anything. Feedback is very important!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Disc Golf coming to the Wii!

This might be a little off-topic, but it's something I've been waiting for ever since I first heard about the Wii. The door is now open for an Ultimate game! Think of the hundreds upon hundreds of copies that would be sold...

Seriously, though, it's important that disc sports begin to crack the mainstream like this. Although it's not a stand-alone game, this will have a very positive effect on disc golf and, by proxy, Ultimate.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mixed Club Ultimate Reboots in Columbus

Mixed Ultimate is growing across the country, and in Columbus its no different. Right now there's a core group, led by Natalie Heil, looking to raise a new mixed team from the ashes of last year's Zatfig group and begin the trip to Nationals.

Anybody whose played summer league is familiar with mixed Ultimate. Playing with both men and women can bring on challenges of meshing together varying athletic and physical abilities, but the chemistry of a good mixed team can be unrivaled. It's a unique way to play and takes a different mindset than on an open or women's teams, but the rewards are tremendous.

In years past, Columbus' club mixed teams have had trouble keeping a core group together willing to put in the work for a Nationals appearance. This year the goals are clear, and players willing to commit are already coming out in strong numbers. Several planning meetings have already plotted out some key dates and tournaments for the summer. Right now everyone interested in playing is knocking off the winter rust with pick-up play on Tuesdays night at Como Park. The last two weeks have drawn great numbers despite terrible weather, and play has been refreshingly competitive for April.

If you're interested in mixed Ultimate this year, or even if you just want to play some pick-up, then get over to Como Park tomorrow and every Tuesday at 6:00 PM. We'll be gelling together a few more weeks until May 16th and 23rd, when weekend tryouts will be held to settle a final roster. If you have any questions, come on out to play or email Natalie at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ultimate On the Rise

This article on CNBC found its way to my inbox today.

"In 2006, there were 3.9 million people playing competitive frisbee. In 2007, that number climbed to 4 million and last year, there were 4.9 million ultimate frisbee players..."

I'd be interested in some more information. Where is this sporting goods association getting their stats? That's a pretty big jump to make in one year... makes me a little skeptical, although I'm sure Ultimate is on the rise. Ultimate has nowhere to go but up, just like my bright future (according to one supportive mom I recently interviewed).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

College Sectionals in the Columbus Dispatch

College Sectionals were held this past weekend in Granville, and the Dispatch's online edition carried this video of some of the womens' action. Look for cameos from our own Emily Wallace (Thug) and Emily Puchala (Pooch) as they pimp the Columbus Ultimate scene. Is there a high-paying, nationally syndicated broadcasting gig in their futures? Is my no-look backhand huck known throughout the land as The Frozen Rope-A-Dope? The answer to both questions is no.