What aspect about ultimate are you most passionate about? Why?
I love the challenge to play against players and teams that are either on your level or better. I’m someone who always strives to be the best form of myself, and ultimate always gave me the drive to improve myself. I want to be an example to everyone, not just people of color, that if you continue to strive and focus on the goals you set for yourself, you can achieve them.
Also, ultimate gives other people the opportunity to succeed and reach levels they didn’t think were attainable. I didn’t go to a big name ultimate school and I didn’t really have the money to play, but I was fortunate to have a community of people around me who I met through ultimate to help support and encourage me.
What is your connection to the sport of ultimate now?
At the moment I’ve begun to venture more towards the world of disc golf. I still love the physical challenge of ultimate and the opportunity to compete against many great athletes, but right now I’m finding disc golf very beneficial to strengthening my mental game.
How has ultimate impacted your life or the life of someone you know?
Most of my friends are through ultimate, and I owe everything to it. When I started playing, I was introduced to people who were nice, caring and welcoming. It was exactly what I needed to help me get through a difficult period in my life entering and adapting to the college environment.
Describe the original inspiration for the Delrico Johnson Fund.
I didn’t initially know there was a U-24 National Team when I started playing and would have loved to try-out. However, even if I had the opportunity, I didn’t have the funds to fly myself across the country or the ability to take time off from work. When I eventually moved into a better financial position for myself, it really struck me that there were kids in ultimate facing financial barriers preventing them from similar opportunities.
Also weighing heavily on me was the lack of representation of black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) on ALL of the U.S. National Teams in each division. So, I started this fund because I didn’t want BIPOC missing out on opportunities to achieve great success and make a name for themselves simply because of money, and in the first week I believe we raised over $3,000!
Why does this cause matter to you?
I want to see more people who look like me at the top of this sport. There are so many talented BIPOC players who aren’t getting the spotlight because the sport hasn’t given us the proper chance to showcase our skills. It bothers me that for a community that prides itself on inclusivity, we still have teams that lack diversity. There are certainly people out there making great strides towards being inclusive, but when you don’t see representation, how do you expect to attract BIPOC players to the sport?
Your initial efforts have been expanded upon to provide membership support for college and adult BIPOC. How do you see this fund and this support advancing our sport and community?
The membership support from this fund helps ease some of the stress of joining ultimate, as you can’t really play on a college or club roster without it. I don’t want someone who’s interested in playing to have to worry about that.
I’m hoping that people who have the means are willing to give to the fund and help those who need it, because this is a small but necessary step towards actually making the sport more accessible to BIPOC. It would be exciting if this fund became an inspiration for teams and for the broader ultimate community to ask what more they can do to be inclusive and supportive for current BIPOC players and those interested in joining.
The Delrico Johnson Fund is currently active and available to accept donations and receive requests for support with memberships, starting with Adult Affiliate Memberships.