We know it’s critical to provide consistent exercise and playing opportunities for all children regardless of their zip code or families’ income. Since time and money are precious for schools in under-resourced communities, structured physical education classes and team-based programs are often limited. Countless studies have shown the benefit of sports activities to children’s physical, social and emotional well-being. In the Bay Area, Calif., a place with one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country, opportunities available to school-aged youth have a direct impact on their access to well-paid work and future financial stability.
In order to help address these challenges, the Ultimate Foundation awarded Ultimate Impact with a matching grant at USA Ultimate’s 50th Anniversary Celebration to further their great youth-development work. As part of the Ultimate Foundation’s efforts to support local groups that focus on providing playing opportunities for underserved youth, the grant supported Ultimate Impact’s work and helped to expand their reach during the 2019 calendar year and beyond.
Ultimate Impact is uniquely positioned to improve the lives of youth in underrepresented communities through the sport and community of ultimate by providing structured athletic instruction from experienced coaches and leveraging the talents, connections and resources of the Bay Area ultimate community. Serving primarily youth from the Bay Area’s most underrepresented communities, Ultimate Impact uses ultimate to provide increased opportunities, confidence, communication abilities and conflict-resolution skills for boys and girls ages six to 18.
“Ultimate Impact has been a wonderful experience for my son. It has shown him how to be responsible, work hard, be on time, enjoy people and love himself,” commented Simone, the mother of an Ultimate Impact program youth.
Ultimate Impact entered 2019 with many lofty goals, and with support from the Ultimate Foundation’s grant, they achieved all of them! “Thanks to our amazing team of coaches and awesome supporters, we did WAY more than we anticipated,” described Rocky Beach, Ultimate Impact’s founder and executive director.
In 2019, Ultimate Impact expanded their program from 11 to 15 schools, now coaching more than 240 kids per week at some of the Bay Area’s most challenging schools. Every week, Ultimate Impact provides 1-2 hour training sessions focused on structured learning through participation in ultimate. Not only do the youth stay active and improve their athletic skills, they also build positive peer interactions, learn how to resolve conflicts and establish a community with youth from other neighborhoods.
“Our students have really learned a lot from Ultimate Impact and it’s great to see them now play as a team/family,” mentioned Sherry Galdamez, one of Ultimate Impact’s program partners. “After the first session, the students returned excited, prepared and ready to learn.”
In addition to the mentorship programs, Ultimate Impact has also worked with schools to coach P.E. sessions to help expand the visibility of ultimate in surrounding neighborhoods. These high-quality mixed-gender workshops focus on team building, ultimate-skills building and physical fitness.
“Their team naturally connects with our youngsters and is especially effective with some of our most struggling students,” commented Joe Truss, the principal at Visitacion Valley Middle School.
Ultimate Impact also provides other programs that focus on the retention of girls in ultimate. Their Girls & Company program focuses on creating healthy spaces for girls of all skill levels to engage in sports. Specifically, Ultimate Impact focuses on growing girls’ confidence as athletes and staying involved in sports during critical transition periods between elementary, middle and high school. Ultimate Impact holds eight field trips to both connect the program’s girls with the ultimate community and to help develop a competitive girls’ team.
“It’s such a joy and a privilege to witness the improvement and growth of our students!” exclaimed Michelle McGhee, a U-24 Women’s National Team member, player on San Francisco Nightlock and program volunteer. “From learning a new throw to gaining confidence on the field to communicating effectively with their teammates, the kids we work with are gaining important skills and having a lot of fun while doing it.”
In 2019, Ultimate Impact partnered with both Nightlock and the Bay Area Disc Association (BADA) to have local adult players help coach and provide leadership to the young girls through various workshops and tournaments on these trips.
Lastly, Ultimate Impact is helping address the need for coaches and leaders in their communities through their Developing Leaders Program. This program fosters young leaders by providing coaching training, project-based skills-building opportunities and access to top Bay Area companies through their “See It To Be It” leadership series. This summer-job opportunity helps cultivate diverse leadership from the local community to serve as community connectors and mentors for other youth.
“Meeting new people and finding the communication skills I didn’t know I had was fun,” said Edwin, a student participant in the program. “Learning new things every day and speaking up helped me in school and work with my peers.”
Ultimate Impact has experienced the lack of youth mentors at each level of sports participation (i.e. elementary, middle and high school) and is addressing it through the Developing Leaders Program.
“We think it’s more impactful to have our high school leaders/players mentor our younger participants, because they have shared experiences and are able to lead by example,” commented Beach.
With this program, Ultimate Impact provides training, employment, positive modeling and experiences that are fun, engaging, challenging and educational. In 2019, the program doubled from six Junior Coaches to 12.
“Through Ultimate Impact, I get to do so many different things like travel, meet new people and bond with others,” added Taleni, another student participant in the program.
We at the Ultimate Foundation are extremely happy for the success Ultimate Impact has achieved, and we are both proud and humbled to support the impact they’ve had in their communities. If you would like to support local ultimate playing opportunities in your area, we encourage you to visit our website and consider donating so that we can continue to support organizations like Ultimate Impact.