2018 was an outstanding and exciting year for the Ultimate Foundation. We made huge strides increasing our total number of donors and contributions, expanding the impact of our outreach programs and bringing our efforts to new communities across the country.

Donors came out in droves in 2018, with over 1,100 donations contributing over $60,000 to different projects geared towards fulfilling our mission: To give everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of ultimate and spread the ethos of self-responsibility by supporting underserved communities, nurturing grassroots programs and inspiring and empowering youth.

In 2018, your support impacted the lives of more than 1,300 youth athletes coast to coast.

Play It Forward got the year started on a bright note by, for the first time ever, providing scholarships to cover the fees for 10 youth athletes selected to try out for the 2018 U-20 National Team. These scholarships made it easier for athletes who dreamed of playing on a national team to get the opportunity of a lifetime.

Photo: Jolie Lang — UltiPhotos

“Being able to try out for the U-20 USAU National Team means a lot to me because my parents don’t usually support me in Frisbee, but having this tryout made them realize that Frisbee, to me, is really important,” commented Nikka, one of the scholarship recipients.

Along with the 10 scholarships, Play It Forward also distributed almost $4,000 to fund more than 200 youth and youth affiliate memberships, allowing athletes to participate in local clinics, leagues and club tournaments.

After National Team tryouts in early January came an influx of Girls’ Ultimate Movement (GUM) and Learn To Play (LTP) clinics throughout the year.   

Photo: Brian Canniff — UltiPhotos

“My favorite part about helping out with these youth clinics is getting to be a part of small, positive, impactful moments in a child’s life,” reflected Nichole Kwee, one of the GUM clinic organizers at the 2018 World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio.

GUM and LTP clinics are designed to teach the sport of ultimate to kids, inspire them to be leaders and impress upon them the values of Spirit of the Game. One LTP clinic participant best exemplified the goals of the clinics when he was asked what word came to mind when he thought of ultimate:

“Sportsmanship, because I always see people high-fiving each other [during the game] even if they are on opposite teams,” explained Brady, a LTP clinic participant at the 2018 College Championships in Milwaukee, Wis.

Photo: Brian Canniff — UltiPhotos

In all, the Ultimate Foundation funded more than 60 clinics across the nation.

Additionally, GUM made huge strides in 2018 in providing more playing opportunities for young girls. Aside from various clinics and leagues, GUM launched the Girls’ Team Startup Project. The program is designed to provide resources and support for new or developing girls’ teams for up to three years, giving them a chance to develop into competitive and self-sustaining teams.

Four schools joined the program in 2018: Cherry Creek High School (Denver, Colo.), D’Evelyn High School (Denver, Colo.), Lane Tech High School (Chicago, Ill.) and Charlotte Country Day School (Charlotte, N.C.). Lane Tech freshman and first-year player Bailey contributed a GUM blog, and she, along with her coach, Robert Berg, spoke on their experiences during the team’s first year.

“I think [ultimate] really gives girls a chance to try something athletic without the pressure of high school sports,” Bailey said. “It helps with getting girls to begin to like sports.”

Photos: Rudy Desort — UltiPhotos

“These girls have an opportunity to grow as a team, collaborate and build leadership skills as well,” Berg added. “Having a girls’ team to empower them really gives them an opportunity to get the same things that I love about this team sport.”

Additionally, GUM hosted the first-ever GUM Ball at the 2018 U.S. Open Club Championships in Blaine, Minn. The GUM Ball was a social mixer that served as an opportunity for club and youth female-identifying players who don’t normally cross paths with one another to meet and share experiences. It gave girls a chance to meet their idols, many of whom they’d only previously seen in highlights or on posters.

Photo: Paul Andris — UltiPhotos

“It’s easy when you see players only on the jumbo screen or YouTube to think of them as other worldly,” said Octavia “Opi” Payne, a two-time World Games team member and member of the 2018 National Champion, San Francisco Fury. “[For the YCC players] it’s nice to humanize and get face time [with us] so that they see we’re just like them and they’re just like us, and to encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing.”

The year ended with the National Championships in San Diego, Calif, but this year’s event was a landmark in the ultimate community for a much bigger reason: the 50th Anniversary Celebration! 2018 marked 50 years since ultimate was founded at Columbia High School in New Jersey, and the Ultimate Foundation played host to all of the festivities.

“There wasn’t one whiff of competition the whole weekend. It was all one team; it just became one community,” remarked Phil ‘Guido’ Adams, the Ultimate Foundation president and 50th Anniversary chairperson.

The celebration included a history exhibit showcasing the sport’s evolution, a fashion show displaying retro jerseys from the past, the induction of the 2014-2018 Hall of Fame Classes and a parade of teams featuring many of the greats from ultimate’s first 50 years. 

Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos

At the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, members of the Hall of Fame called on the ultimate community to give back to the future generation of athletes. 

“[We should start] bringing this sport to communities that might struggle to have outlets for physical activity and [would] benefit from the foundations of conflict resolution, playing as a team and creating bonds that you carry with you throughout your life,” commented Suzanne Fields, a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class.

Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos

In that same spirit, the Ultimate Foundation gave a grant contribution of $10,000 to Ultimate Impact, an after-school nonprofit organization that uses the sport of ultimate to provide increased opportunities, confidence, communication abilities and conflict-resolution skills for boys and girls ages 6 to 18. 

“I feel like ultimate is a good platform for that,” explained Rocky Beach, Ultimate Impact’s founder and executive director. “The way we try to teach it is, even at a young age, to have kids speak up for themselves and find their voice.”

Photo: Ultimate Impact

Thanks to generous donor support, the Ultimate Foundation made a significant impact and difference in the lives of more than 1,000 underserved and underrepresented youth around the country in 2018. Your support of our programs and outreach initiatives is invaluable, and we cannot thank you enough. We look forward to making even bigger strides in 2019 and are counting on your continued support to help us to share the sport of ultimate and Spirit of the Game with our next generation.