My first experience commentating was at the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) in 2016. Having stayed to watch the adult portion of the event after coaching juniors, I got pulled up into the booth to help out and didn’t expect that I was going to fall in love with it. The following year I returned to commentate at CUC, where I was mentored by Kevin Underhill who pushed me to continue to pursue this further. In the fall of 2017, I got the job as the communications manager for Ultimate Canada which allowed me to commentate on all Canadian events.
In 2018, I commentated Canadian indoor nationals (C4UC), High School nationals (CHSUC), junior nationals, single gender nationals, mixed nationals and university nationals. Apart from my work in Canada, I freelanced as a commentator and this year I worked at WUCC in Cincinnati, the US Open and USAU Nationals in San Diego.
San Diego was an amazing tournament. What was the best part for you?
The best part of nationals in San Diego was being a part of the incredible Fulcrum Media team. Fulcrum made equity a priority in everything they did, including hiring two female play by play commentators to work on every game and creating the equity through visibility project.
Becky and Tom Styles owning the commentator booth at WUCC
Did you see something different this year than other years? More people attending certain games, more or less spirit, changes in how people are playing, etc.
The main thing I noticed was the use of WFDF hand signals, and the increased use of hand signals in general, by the teams at USAU Nationals. It was extremely useful from a commentary standpoint to see the hand signals as soon as the call was made and be able to quickly communicate to the viewers what was going on.
How was your experience commentating this year?
Overall, 2018 has been filled with good experiences. I have been lucky to work many different events this year, which has allowed me to work with so many different people. There were ups and downs, and my confidence faltered on some occasions. I struggled with feeling that as a female that I could never be as good as the male commentators I listened to because I didn’t think I had the voice for it. I have spent time listening to other female broadcasters, getting used to the sound of my voice on tape and not beating myself up when I think I sound too high pitched (this is still a work in progress).
One thing I’ve learnt is that you can’t take online comments – positive or negative – too seriously. The feedback I have gotten from the people I have worked with this year is so valuable to me and I am so thankful for all of it. Being able to work with so many different people this year has also helped me to learn some tricks on how to practice my commentary, warm-up for a broadcast and improve my mental game.
2018 has been a really educational year for me and I have also realized how much I have left to learn. My experience in San Diego gave me a taste of what I would love to be able to do every day and it inspired me to work harder towards my goals.
Anything else you want to add?
Over the last few years of exploring my career, nothing has come close the feeling I get when I put that head set on. 2018 has been incredibly kind to me, I have been able to commentate on so many games, work with amazing people and learn so much – about commentating and about myself.
I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way this year and everyone I got to work with. The list is really long so I won’t dive into it, but every single one of you has contributed to my growth in one way or another, so thank you!
Mark your calendars, folks! December 3rd is Spirit of the Game Day, put together by the WFDF Spirit of the Game Committee in coordination with E.R.I.C. The goal of this day is to encourage awareness and growth of one of the main pillars of our sport: Spirit of the Game.
In previous years, the International Spirit of the Game Day inspired players worldwide to participate in purposeful activities promoting Spirit of the Game. By utilizing prizes made specifically for this event by various organizations and companies, there is an incentive to participate!
This year’s theme is all about YOUTH. All you have to do is use the #iSOTGDay on your submissions between November 29th and December 5th and you could win amazing prizes. Submissions can be anything from a poem, to a video, to hosting an amazing event! Use your creativity and win big! More details can be found here and on their Facebook Page!
We asked Henrietta Papp and Travis Smith, members of the Spirit of the Game Subcommittee a few questions about what this day means to them.
Henrietta, what is the importance of this day to you?
In my way of thinking, it’s to bring the SOTG closer to players worldwide. Having this celebration people can express their thoughts about SOTG, and get them to think about it more than usual. Make them proud that the sport they love is not just pure athleticism, competition, etc., but it also cultivates a complex way of behavior that is expected from every player and based on fair-play, manner of speech and the joy of the game.
What does spirit look like off the field?
The values SOTG represent can be utilized in our everyday life as well. For example: during any problematic situation, stay calm, listen and ask the opinion of the others and discuss it without shouting, and be empathic; always enjoy what you are doing, if you can’t, try to solve it; cheer for other people’s success; be a mentor for someone who is less experienced than you.
Moreover, there are at least two big organizations that are based on SOTG and not only Ultimate itself: E.R.I.C. and Ultimate Peace.
What does Spirit of the Game mean to you, Travis?
I've found that the longer I play ultimate, the further off the field SOTG extends. First it goes to pre-and post-game activities, then to the way you interact with your team and your league, and then even wider, to how you interact with others in general.
I find I give people the benefit of the doubt much more often now — I extend trust more easily, and I believe that others are also working in a mutual effort to do the right thing — that discussion, not argumentation, is the way to achieve consensus.
SOTG encourages people to play by the rules, even when there's no referee watching, and that's a pretty universally beneficial way to behave.
We've got a full collection dedicated to Spirit of the Game, so if you're itching to look awesome while promoting SOTG, head over to our store today!
Manuela Cardenas. What else do we need to say? One of the youngest players at USA Nationals, but also one of the most talented. Manuela took the time to answer a few of our questions following Nationals to talk about one of the busiest summers to date.
Welcome to a new series we are starting. The goal of our 'Women in Ultimate' series is to chat to women from all backgrounds who have an impact in our community in hopes of putting them in the spotlight that they deserve.
If you'd like to write an article for us, or you know someone who would be perfect for this series, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.
Without further ado, enjoy our interview with Manuela Cardenas
Hey Manuela, how was playing ultimate in the US for a summer?
It was just amazing, 5 minutes ago I just was writing about the amazing experience that I had here, how the people from the team and another had a great welcoming incredible. For sure is pretty different play here and play in Colombia. It was a like a dream, I was playing with and against player that 4 or 5 years were my idols.
This may have been one of the busiest summers for you. What was your best memory?
I can't answer that question haha, each one was pretty different, Worlds with Revolution was a great performance for the team, win a gold is the goal of the team from 15 years ago, so it was so especial. Jr Worlds was so especial because it was the last Jr, so I had to give them (teammates) some of the experience that I had in my life of Ultimate, I was trying to teach them something and it was great, Also won against Canada twice was so especial too (sorry haha)
Will you be back??
For suuuure. I'll figured how can I do, but I'll be back, we have to win a championship
Anything else you'd like to add?
Yes, The way that MB work it just amazing, they work hard, play great and have FUN, this team is great. I'm gonna come back to play because this team deserve a championship. And also I wanna say thanks to Lisa P, her friendship is just amazing, everyone should have a friend like her.
With the 2018 season all wrapped, we began to brainstorm about who we could get on our blog to recap some of the exciting events, stories, and games that happened throughout the year. Finally we thought who better to help us look back at this incredible summer than the people who have been analyzing it the whole time: commentators!
Welcome to our latest series. For the next few weeks, we will be posting articles and interviews with some of the best commentators in the game right now to get their two cents on what went on this summer. These people put in so much time making ultimate an even more enjoyable product, and we thought they deserved the spotlight.
The series starts with Bex Forth. We hope you enjoy our Commentator Series.
Hey Bex, why don't you start off by giving us a quick background on your ultimate experience and your commentating experience!
Ultimate experience (the headlines): GB International player for 24 years, World Games 2013, WUGC 1996-2012, WUCC 1995-2014 (5th, 4th, 4th), WCBU 2013-2017 (3rd, 3rd, 3rd), Captained European champions Bliss and Iceni, GB and EuroStars. Captain and Coach of EuroStars 2017-2018. 11x World Beach Cup Champion. Current Showdown Player.
Commentating experience - NONE. I've done plenty of interviews and as I've been coaching internationally for well over 15 years, the analysis aspect is similar. I believe the invite to commentate was based on live interviews/podcasts with Ultiworld.
What was the best part of USAU Club Nationals for you?
It was compact. The field site felt like all divisions and games were connected. This increased the buzz and kept players near the action. The weather was good and San Diego is lovely - this all helps.
Did you see something different this year than other years? Maybe more people attending certain games
Differences I saw this year included players watching more games in the earlier rounds. Because the layout was more compact, there was less trudging between games and gave players the time to come across a close contest and chill and watch for a while. It's a huge bonus for the atmosphere. I saw many more instances of calculated injury substitutions than i've really ever seen before. Particularly at crucial moments and allowing for a top player to come on. Some definitely seemed calculated and in one case I actually predicted it before it happened. It's not a change that I welcome.
How was your experience commentating this year?
It was a really great experience. It was the first time I've commentated so I was on a very steep learning curve and I was trying to pick up on skills that the experienced commentators had. Initially I was nervous to force my opinion on the listeners but after about the first half I'd shaken that feeling and spoke what came naturally to me which is analysis of the game. Essentially what I do as a coach, captain and player. The mechanics of commentating isn't something I'd spent much time thinking about and that is obviously my weakness–I improved during the tournament but I know there is much to learn.
The feedback I got was very encouraging and I felt proud to be giving a female voice to analysis. I was really impressed with Keith Raynor who seems to be able to do play-by-play, analysis and take stats all at the same time. The experience also allowed me to appreciate what hard work goes on behind the scenes. So much time and energy is devoted by Ultiworld and Fulcrum to get the stories out there and we need the stories!
Anything else you'd like to add?
I really appreciated the vote of confidence Ultiworld had in me without prior commentating experience. It is so important for women to be visible in every aspect and as a push to increase female commentators taking the risk to have a newbie be a prominent voice on their stream is something I appreciate on a personal and a wider level. There was also a very balanced view about the divisions that I commentated on (all of them). Within 24hrs I noticed a difference in Open players' interactions with me. I am the same person with the same thoughts but by being visible, it increased the awareness that analysis can be successfully conducted regardless of gender. There is an ingrained cultural bias that open players know more, make better coaches, should be listened to. I am grateful that Ultiworld gave me an opportunity to help chip away at this bias. Thank you to all the wonderful commentators I worked with: Daniel Prentice, Keith Raynor, Cody Mills and Becky Thompson, to Charlie Eisenhood for providing me this great opportunity and to everyone who gave me encouraging feedback!
Although this summer brought us to different cities and ultimate communities, we always felt one thing: welcomed. We know it’s been said, but it’s important to appreciate how friendly, inviting, and inspiring our community is. No matter where we travel in the world, we know we’ll always have a home with the ultimate community–there’s nothing quite like it.
USA Club Nationals was an amazing event. With the 50th Anniversary of Ultimate running in conjunction to Nationals, San Diego was filled to the brim with multiple generations of ultimate and it led to a great atmosphere. We reminisced about the past, we sat awestruck at astounding plays unfolding in front of us, and we laughed together. USA Club Nationals was the perfect way to end a bustling season.
To all the people we met, it was wonderful to connect with you and we can’t wait to see you again. To all our old friends, seeing you in person makes everything worth it. To every team and player that chose VC, thank you for trusting us and letting us be a part of your team.
As the sun sets over the 2018 club season, we sit here with full hearts, eager minds, and ambitious plans. We can’t wait for you all to see what we have planned for next season.
See you soon, friends.
Our favourite thing about Ultimate is the community and we are always excited about events that bring our amazing community together. Well, lucky for us and everyone else, Huck It Back is THE ultimate reunion event. More information below!
More information can be found here!
HUCK it BACK: Huck it Back is the ultimate reunion event. On the beautiful Coronado Beach in San Diego, generations of Ultimate players (1970's to 2000's) will reunite and celebrate our sport and community in a variety of ways:
Why this October in San Diego? Because Ultimate is turning 50, and there is a big party going down. Keep reading!
HAT TOURNAMENT: Huck it Back will be a mixed (co-ed) tournament. There will be two divisions to accommodate the years that have passed… The "Competitive" Division will involve lots of running and diving. The "Recreational" Division will likely involve more jogging and lunging. Whatever suits you - your choice. On the registration page you’ll be asked if there are specific players (or players from specific teams) with whom you’d like to play. We’ll make every effort to accommodate these requests. There will be plenty of food, friends, and festivities, not to mention the beautiful Pacific Ocean, to make this momentous celebration rock. You will get a sweet high quality team jersey, a beautiful Huck it Back disc, and a bunch of other Ultimate swag. And, the Tournament Director is none other than legendary Ultimate 4th of July organizer, Lou Burke! So come on, drag your old teammates out to San Diego and Huck it Back!
FUNDRAISER: The 5 organizations will be supported in two ways: 1. All proceeds from the tournament after expenses will be split among them. 2. The registration page provides space for you to make additional donations to the charities of your choice. These are the Huck it Back charities, all founded by Ultimate players who wanted to use Ultimate and Spirit of the Game to make the world a better place:
MEMORIAL GAMES: Sadly, many great friends in our wonderful community have passed over the years. We would like to take advantage of being all together, and celebrate their awesome contributions and memories with fun games. At noon, we'll take a break from playing for a community lunch, then those competing in the tourney and those signed up for the Memorial Games will join together and have some fun! Here's how it will work. Anyone can step up and lead a game in someone's honor. For example, this past year, we had to say painful goodbyes to Don "Sauce" Cain and Scott "Masher" Hollinger. Maybe someone will want to facilitate an MTA contest to remember Don, still the World Record holder! Or honor Masher with a long MAC line or one of his favorite reindeer games. Please consider bringing forth a game to commemorate someone you want us all to rememeber together. Just email Bob Riddell, Master of Memorial Games ceremonies, with your idea! email@example.com
50th REUNION: Huck it Back will happen alongside the 50th Anniversary Reunion and Celebration - 3 days of fun and entertaining events put on for Alumni by the Ultimate Foundation. As both events are also co-located with the USAU National Club Championships, we will all be treated to watching the best Ultimate in the world (almost as good as when we played). Just register for different reunion events at the following link once you finish registering on this site for Huck it Back (you can come right back to this page): https://secure.theultimatefoundation.org/np/clients/ultimatefoundation/event.jsp?event=6&
So sign up today, come to San Diego, encourage your friends to join, and live Ultimate once again. Who knows when we will do this again (2068?)?
David Barkan, Ultimate Peace and Jim Gerencser, E.R.I.C.
"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or have been off the grid for the past week, you’ve seen Nike’s new ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the controversial NFL player who took a knee for something he believed in–or how we like to call it, the Ad That Shook The World.
Nike's ad with Colin Kaepernick that shook the world.
We love seeing big companies like Nike creating ad campaigns whose goals aren't merely profit-seeking, but to inspire generations, incite change, and spark conversation. Now, we don’t want to say that Nike took a page out of our book, but maybe, just maybe, a Nike executive happened to stumble across our Call for Models campaign, or our Women’s Development Sponsorship and took notes... I guess we’ll never know.
All kidding aside, Nike’s latest ad has created an exciting buzz all over the world, and will undoubtedly lead to more meaningful campaigns that help promote equity.
Our Women’s Development Sponsorship is something that we at VC wholeheartedly believe in and we’ve taken great pride in offering the sponsorship. Providing equitable support to women's teams is a necessity for our sport and we’re glad we can help.
But how can we be better? After the WFDF Women in Sport Commission workshops at WUCC, Adriana started thinking more about our sponsorship activities and our overall values at VC. Leading up to this point, our focus has been on feminism and growing women’s ultimate around the world, but the workshops made us think more about our own privilege and how deep it really goes. After much inner reflection, we’ve decided it’s time to transition from feminism to intersectionality.
Simply put, intersectionality is a concept used to describe ways in which oppressive institutions are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. In other words, intersectionality considers that various forms of social labeling, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender, do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven together. (This is a VERY watered definition, but we encourage everyone to read more about intersectionality.)
Our first step to focusing on intersectionality is this: we are evolving the Women’s Development Sponsorship. In its new form, we’d like to introduce the Equity and Development Sponsorship. This sponsorship will mirror the Women’s Development Sponsorship, but the key difference is this: any marginalized group can apply and will be accepted.
We are still learning. This step towards intersectionality has led us down a road less travelled and we are unsure what we’ll come across on our journey, but we know that it’s the right choice.
It’s like the ad says: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” While we don’t think that our focus on equitable action is a sacrifice, we do know that our focus on promoting women’s teams and development has lead to interesting imbalances in our customer profiles. There’s always a risk when you take a stand (like the mom who said she’d get her school team to switch providers when we move to non-binary sizing), but that risk is worth it to us.
This is just the first step towards equity–stay tuned for more information on how we will push for intersectionality.
We are elated to announce our new partnership with an amazing organization we've had our eye on since their inception. Elevate Ultimate Academy, based out of Vancouver, is a company passionate about teaching young athletes values through sport. Leadership training, summer camps and an academy program are just some of the programs Elevate are currently offering.
We asked Danie Proby and Ari Nitikman, co-founders of Elevate Ultimate Academy, a few questions as we embark on this journey of spreading ultimate together.
Can you tell the VC community what Elevate is?
Elevate Ultimate Academy provides high-quality ultimate programs for athletes aged 5-19 and leadership training for high school students. The dream and vision is to have Elevate programs all over the world; however, our goal every day, no matter where we are, is to teach values such as honesty, teamwork, and sportspersonship to the athletes we coach
What motivated you to partner with VC?
We love that VC is value-driven, and how well-established they are in the national and international ultimate community. We love how they push for equity, are inclusive in their business and how they operate, and how they strategically partner with other organizations that do good. We strive to be the best ultimate program for youth in the world, and we know VC's network can help us get there.
What's your favourite part of running a company like Elevate?
Both of us (Danie and Ari, founders of Elevate) have very different roles, so we each have our own answer.
Ari: I love that my role changes all the time. Sometimes, I'm a full-time coach. Other times, I'm a full-time sales and marketing manager. I'm even sometimes the accountant (albeit a terrible one). Elevate keeps me on my toes, and there is always room to be creative.
Danie: Elevate has given me a ton of opportunities to grow. I have been pushed to create curriculums that challenge kids at all skill and age levels and I love seeing the games and drills translate into better athletes on and off the field. I have found a career that helps me be creative while doing what I love: working with young people. I used to be terrified of small children and only worked with high school students, but now I love watching 8-year-olds throw full field flicks.
Anything else you want to say?
Watch out world: The next generation of Ultimate players are coming for your roster spots.
Ari and Danie, founders of Elevate Academy
VC works hard to create more than just top-quality jerseys with eye-catching designs; we create clothing that sparks conversation.
Our ‘Future Is Female’ collection’s goal was to get people asking, talking, and thinking about gender equity in ultimate, and the statement is one of will and purpose: it’s about where we are going, the necessary journey to equality for all athletes, and what is needed to get there.
'Nevertheless, she persisted’ is another collection whose goal is to provoke conversation which leads to action, inspired by our partners Without Limits Ultimate, who have worked tirelessly to create learning and competition opportunities since 2010. This expression was adopted by the feminist movement around 2017 and we thought it would help empower, motivate, and inspire*.
In the past, our goal was the get people talking. Now, we want to inspire people to start doing.
2018 has by far been the busiest summer for VC, ever. Boasting 4 WFDF World Championships events and 7 major tournaments in one summer, we wanted to create a shirt design that highlighted our values and inspired those around us.
Thus, ‘Be The Change’ was adopted as our current mantra.
Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world” and we take that to heart here at VC. We love being able to initiate conversations with our different clothing lines, but now we want to incite tangible change. Anyone can talk the talk, it’s time to walk the walk.
We've only talked about this a little bit before as we're not asking for recognition or thanks, but we're proud to give over 15% of our revenue back to supporting our communities teams, events an organizations. We want to put our resources behind supporting the community that supports us.
And we also want to help the community to be more engaged! Our Women’s Development Sponsorship actively seeks out individuals and teams who are allies in the push for equality in ultimate; our Discs for Development program helps spread ultimate to every corner of the world, sharing the message of Spirit of the Game to people of all cultures; and our efforts to highlight people from all backgrounds, shapes, and cultures in our Call for Models program aims to show people that anyone can make a difference.
We understand it’s easier said than done, but the following is a quote that comes to mind when we talk about being the change:
“Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”
We want to motivate you all to break away from the mundane workings of our day-to-day lives and to actively search how you can ‘Be The Change’ in your community; if you’ve been sitting on an idea, we urge you to take a leap of faith and act on it.
Everything we do at VC is focused on how we can better our community and how we can help motivate people by creating amazing initiatives which create change. We are constantly brainstorming, researching, and mulling over ways to live more out of intent and less out of habit.
If you have any ideas on how we can ‘Be The Change’ in our community, or if you are doing something that you think we’d love to hear about, send us a message! Hearing from our community motivates us to continue doing what we do and we constantly get inspired by our community. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d love to hear from you.
Don’t be happy with comfortable; push the boundaries, ‘Be The Change’, and aim to be #OnlyTheBest.
© 2019 VC Ultimate.
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