Category Archives: Co-ed

DiscNW Executive Director job opening, leadership history, & investment in youth

Last week the lead post on the home page of DiscNW was the announcement that the current Executive Director, William Bartram (aka “Bunny”) will leave the organization and the search is on for a new leader.  The announcement (text appended) included a job description (archived PDF) which referenced the 2016 strategic plan (text also appended).

What does this mean for youth ultimate in the greater Seattle area and the Northwest region?  I offer a few inferences from materials posted on the DiscNW web site, as well as some historical perspective gleaned from the organization’s annual financial reports (Form 990s for DiscNW, 2002-2014).

Reading through the announcement, job description, and overview of the strategic plan, there’s not a crystal-clear vision for youth ultimate.  After all, youth programming is only about 1/3 of DiscNW’s annual efforts.

The documents, however, do contain a few hints about where DiscNW may take youth ultimate in the next few years.   The announcement rightly applauds Bunny for increasing “youth participation from about 1000 to 4000” players per year, and for establishing the “Youth Development Fund now in excess of $130,000 annually.”  The job announcement seeks candidates who will “direct industry standard youth programming” and “ensure gender equity and accessibility.”  I’m not sure if “industry standard” means that the board considers the awesome programs that Bunny has grown to define the industry standard, or if DiscNW intends to emulate some other regional or National programs (e.g. the Canadian LTAD model).  It could also be an allusion to the LTAD benchmarks and re-vamped coach development program (CDP) that USA Ultimate has been working on for the last year or two, or to the roll-out of State chapters by the National governing body which began last year…  The call for gender equity in both the job description and the strategic plan, combined with the emphasis on promoting gender equity in the recent DiscNW coaching clinics, suggests that the organization may be seeking leadership that could incorporate new structure (e.g. the GUM middle school girls curriculum) into the DiscNW youth programs and coach development.

It’s exciting to consider who will lead DiscNW for the next era, especially when you look back through Bunny’s long run (from ~2004-2017), the evolution of the administration, and even into the early leadership.  Here’s a Google spreadsheet that characterizes the history of DiscNW with an emphasis on the organization’s “youth activities.”  It’s clear from the associated graphs (below) that DiscNW has grown consistently over the last 15 years, both in total revenues and in its expenditures on “youth activities” (which according to the IRS documents includes youth leagues, tournaments, camps, clinics, and total youth players served).

Youth expenditures were less than 10% of revenues when they were first reported separately in the 2004 Form 990, but in the next few years they rose to ~30%.  They have remained near 1/3 of total revenues since then, though there was an interesting (yet to be explained) dip in 2012.

Administrative costs (also as a % of total revenue) have also risen.  In 2002 when Mike Keran was the E.D., administrative costs (compensation) were about 10% of total revenue.  The percentage stayed pretty constant until ~2008, about the time the organization’s staff started to grow.  In 2004-2006, the E.D. changed from Mike to Bunny, with Morgan Ahouse serving as an interim E.D. as first Wilma Comenat and then William Bertrand (Bunny) were hired and trained, with paid assistance from Mike for Wilma.   Then in 2007, Bunny brought on Frank Nam as the first Youth Director.  The next year Wynne Scherf was hired and paid along with Frank (who presumably brought her up to speed).  About the same time (2008), Jeff Dairiki began being paid to help maintain the web site which he’s continued to do since, with some help from Mike in 2010-11 and a concerted paid effort (to rebuild the site?) in 2013.  Finally, in 2011, Elizabeth Brown was paid as an Operations Manager, a position which switched to Rusty Brown the next year.

The growth in adminstrative staff has brought total compensation to about 20% of total revenue.  This seems quite reasonable (for an organization that doesn’t maintain a central office and has staff living in Seattle where expenses are high) but it would be interesting to compare to other comparable regional entitities, to the extent that the exist.  Perhaps the Bay Area Disc Association (founded 2008) or Minnesota Youth Ultimate (founded 2003)?

Know of any other organizations that might be comparable?  Leave them in the comments!


Archived text of the DiscNW home page announcement:

Message from the DiscNW Board

Our Executive Director (ED), William Bartram, has recently informed us that he will be leaving our organization.

Bunny, as he’s known around the community, has graced us with his leadership for the past 12 years. In an organization like ours, this is a lifetime. Bunny has brought to DiscNW a sense of wisdom, patience, and caring instrumental in helping us grow into the tight-knit community we are now. Under his tenure, DiscNW has experienced extraordinary growth, in many dimensions:

  • Increased youth participation from about 1000 to 4000
  • Established Youth Development Fund now in excess of $130,000 annually
  • Expanded adult league participation by more than 60%
  • Led budget growth from $220,000 to more than $1,100,000
  • Grew from one employee to four full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, and several contractors

The board thanks Bunny for his work, love of the sport, and commitment to our community. We are lucky to have a resilient organization with dedicated staff members, who will continue to provide excellent programs to the community as we begin recruitment for a new ED.

The job description is now available and the position is open for applications — please spread the word if you know of a motivated, sport-loving, non-profit leader. Bunny will continue in his position in the interim, and will work with the new ED to transition his responsibilities by early summer. For questions about the position, contact jobs@discnw.org.

DiscNW will be posting occasional updates on our social media channels about our recruitment process. If you see Bunny on the fields this spring, please thank him for his years of service to our community!

Sincerely,
DiscNW Board of Directors


Archived text of the 2016 Strategic Plan

Strengthening Our Community – DiscNW Strategic Plan 2017-2019

In 2016 DiscNW developed a new strategic plan to guide the organization through the next three years. Through this new plan, DiscNW will strive to strengthen our ultimate community. The plan will allow the organization to be more nimble, and it will empower staff to take action. DiscNW will serve as a regional resource by being a model organization and reaffirming our commitment to the Spirit of the Game.

 

Prioritize building community relationships

  • Through improved and strengthened communications to our constituents
  • Through outreach to other coordinators and organizers
  • Through our business partnerships
  • Through messaging, branding, and promotion

Continue improving upon and delivering excellent programs

  • By emphasizing Spirit of the Game at the forefront of our decision making
  • By ensuring gender equity
  • By ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness
  • By developing and supporting high quality leadership and coaching
  • By continuing to focus on efficient operational procedures and best practice

Devote resources to organizational resilience

  • To provide the agility to address rapid changes in our regional Ultimate community
  • To grow the sport by more thoughtfully expanding regional services

Video analysis of throw mechanics by Seattle’s Kyle Weisbrod

Screengrab of spline curve tracking throwing hand and forehand-core angle measurement.
Screengrab of spline curve tracking throwing hand and forehand-core angle measurement.

A couple Spring Reigns ago I noticed a guy with a laptop and video camera offering to analyze kids’ throws for free.  I watched briefly over his shoulder and thought it was cool that he was able to quickly give some feedback to the passing players by comparing their backhand or forehand throw mechanics side-by-side on the laptop with an “ideal” thrower (typically footage of an exceptional adult player).

It turns out the guy was Kyle Weisbrod, head coach of University of Washington’s women’s ultimate team, Element, using Dartfish software.  Kyle is based in Seattle and I later learned that he offers a rigorous “expert video analysis” to any player for a fee.  The service is described on the DiscNW web site where you can register for analysis of your forehand, backhand, or both.  Analysis of one throw costs $50, while both costs $80 (2016 prices).

I signed my 13 year-old son, Liam, up for analysis of his forehand and backhand as a birthday present last spring.  He likes to handle so I hoped he’d put the feedback to good use.  Plus, as a youth coach, player, and scientist I was curious to learn more about what information Kyle and his technology could provide.

It took us a while to find the time to get down to a local field with Liam’s 30-fps 1080-pixel video camera on a tripod and a stack of 10 discs, but once we got there the filming went fast.  We set up the camera following Kyle’s guidelines (after a little confusion about the spatial arrangement which the following sketch should resolve).  It would have been better to borrow mom’s new iPhone to get 60-fps footage, but it worked out.

Plan-view sketch of how thrower and camera should be arranged for filming
Plan-view sketch of how thrower and camera should be arranged for filming

To actually acquire the footage, a friend pressed the record button.  Liam took the stack of 10 discs and tried to throw consistent throws aiming to maximize their distance (not accuracy).  I ran around about 30 meters down-field and fetched the discs.  The actual filming took less than 10 minutes.  The total door-to-door time to set-up and get the footage took no more than an hour.

When we got home, we uploaded the videos to Youtube without editing the footage.  Later in the fall, Kyle sent over two links to Youtube videos containing his analysis — 13 minutes on the forehand, 14.5 minutes on the backhand.

From initial registration on the DiscNW site to delivery of the videos took about 4 months, but that was due to multiple delays on our end trying to get the filming done between summer vacation activities and a few busy periods  in Kyle’s schedule after we submitted the footage.  Apparently a more typical turn-around time is 2-4 weeks.

Here are the resulting videos.  In each analysis, Kyle chose 4 throws from the 10 we filmed.  First he compares them side-by-side synchronized on the release moment.  Throughout, he talks about best practices, throwing mechanics, and provides both observations and recommendations for improvement.

Juxtaposition and synchronization of 4 throws.
Juxtaposition and synchronization of 4 throws.

Second, he analyzes a single most-characteristic throw more deeply, overlaying it with an elite thrower’s mechanics.  In Liam’s case, Eddie Feeley, a handler for the Rainmakers in 2016 is overlayed for the forehand; George Stubbs of Revolver fame is overlayed for the backhand.

Screengrab showing overlay of expert thrower on youth thrower.
Screengrab showing overlay of expert thrower on youth thrower.

Forehand analysis

Observations and tips:

  1. Remarkably consistent form!  If you can improve it, your throws will likely be consistently better.
  2. As throw begins with planting foot, flatten disc more (and earlier) and drive off-side elbow back (with arm bent and turning shoulders more) a little later
  3. During release, raise wrist (or lower elbow) OR tilt axis of core more to achieve closer to a 90-degree angle between forearm and core axis (it’s about 100-degrees in the video)
  4. Think about getting chest to face more forward and less up through throw, especially at release moment.

Backhand analysis

Observations and tips:

  1. Good consistency across 4 throws.  You maintain both hands on disc during wind-up which is considered best practice.
  2. Try to maintain downfield view throughout throw as much as possible.
  3. Aim for a straight, smooth swing of your throwing hand, ideally in a plane that is aligned with your forearm line at the release moment
  4. Keep your core strong throughout throw, trying not to bend over so much at the release moment.  
  5. Let your trailing arm continue around, as you do with your throwing arm, to get even more power into the throw.

A few months later, Liam reports that he enjoyed the process and feels like he’s been able to incorporate Kyle’s feedback during the subsequent season.  I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference when watching him play, but I look forward to having his throws re-analyzed in a year or two — just to see if the same issues are present or have been trained away.

Next spring I’ll ask Kyle to analyze my daughter’s throws.  I hope if we do the filming mid-January that she’ll get some feedback during the spring season and have lots of opportunities to consider and  incorporate it.

And I’m thinking that I, too, would benefit from some feedback about my throws, especially my forehand that seems fine when throwing with my kids, but often bombs  when I’m playing under pressure.  And then there’s the question why it seems so tough for my old body to significantly increase the max distance I can throw…  The soreness I feel after a session of throws suggests I could definitely build stronger throwing muscles, but how important are mechanics vs strength?

Thankfully, Kyle is ready and willing to share his insights and detailed observations to help us all improve.

Youth ultimate summertime opportunities near Seattle

There are LOTS of summer playing opportunities in and near Seattle in 2016!  In addition to the normal summer camps and clinics, we are seeing a blossoming of new youth ultimate opportunities this summer.  It’s complicated to sort out all the dates, times, age-levels, and program details, and some are just opening this week for registration, so we’ve compiled a Google spreadsheet of seasonal youth ultimate playing opportunities to help you sort out your options.

Note that in addition to the start and end dates, there are columns that list the format, age range, grade range, etc., as well as links to more information and/or registration pages.  Feel free to sort the columns (e.g. chronologically by start date, or by the school group columns (ES=Elementary, MS=Middle school, HS=high school).  We’ll add playing opportunities for other seasons, including any that you suggest in the comments, to both the Google spreadsheet and this Google calendar (though the latter is a work in progress — and help is welcome).

 

Elementary school options

Here is a synopsis of the options for current 3rd-4th graders —

6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/24/2016 7/29/2016 TUC summer league
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
8/8/2016 8/12/2016 TUC U12 camp
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August

 

— and in addition to the above listings, here are extra options for current fifth graders (many middle school summer programs incorporate incoming 6th graders) —

6/4/2016 6/4/2016 UpDawg MS Tournament
7/5/2016 7/8/2016 TUC summer camp – Jane Addams
7/18/2016 7/22/2016 TUC summer camp – Eckstein

 

There are also other TUC camps in the spreadsheet aimed at kids heading to other middle schools around the city…

Middle and high school options

There are really too many middle and high school options to summarize! Take a look at the spreadsheet and sort accordingly… but here are two quick cut/pasted lists of middle school and high school ops.

Middle school:
6/3/2016 6/3/2016 Seattle Jam
6/4/2016 6/4/2016 UpDawg MS Tournament
6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Hat League
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Performance League
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/5/2016 7/8/2016 TUC summer camp – Jane Addams
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 TUC summer camp – Hamilton
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Rise Up leadership camps
7/18/2016 7/22/2016 TUC summer camp – Eckstein
8/1/2016 8/5/2016 TUC summer camp – Washington MS
8/1/2016 8/5/2016 TUC summer camp – Salmon Bay, Whitman, & Broadview
8/8/2016 8/12/2016 TUC summer camp – Southwest Seattle Camp
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August
High school:
6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Hat League
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Performance League
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
7/30/2016 8/4/2016 VC leadership camp – session 1
8/6/2016 8/11/2016 VC leadership camp – session 2
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August

 

Again — please comment if you have other suggestions, or just request to edit the Google spreadsheet directly.  Any help is mapping out the increasingly, wonderfully complex ultimate landscape of the Pacific Northwest is welcome!

Seattle DiscNW spring elementary league coach meeting

Notes from the mandatory pre-season meeting run by Jude Larene, Youth Coordinator for Disc Northwest, on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from 6-7:30.  Impressively the number of teams has increased by ~20% this year (including 5 new teams within Seattle) — the fastest growth of all the youth spring leagues run by DiscNW.  The meeting was attended by ~40 coaches, as well as Jude and the DiscNW Account Manager, Kate Speck.  A highlight was receiving 5 free J-star 140-gram discs with an entrancing rainbow print of the DiscNW logo!

140-g J-star youth ultimate disc with RAINBOW DiscNW logo!
140-g J-star youth ultimate disc with RAINBOW DiscNW logo!  You can buy more for $7/each!

Here is a (low quality) audio recording of the meeting…

Jude on spring season orientation

  • Private Facebook group: DiscNW youth coaching forum
  • 11th edition rules
  • Gender ratio
    • Always at least 3 girls on the team in 7v7
    • In 5v5 teams, offense chooses 3:2.
    • Goal is to ensure equal playing time for girls and boys
    • Jude’s team has an all-girl line
  • Non-contact sport
  • Encourage egalitarian subbing (no “kill lines”)
  • Kids make the calls (coaches need to educate parents about this)
  • Coaching Code of Conduct (Archived PDF of 2015-2016 DiscNW Coaching Code of Conduct)
    • Revised last year after a lot of work
    • Please read it before you sign it!  (Feedback is very welcome)
    • Consider the role you play as a coach in the lives of your players
    • Set the coaching bar very high!
  • You may also need to sign a coach’s liability waiver
  • Spirit scores
    • Average will be visible after 3rd week of play
    • Please enter after each game, along with point score
    • Get your team together at end of game and ask their opinion
    • Provide feedback to the opposing coach via on-line form
    • Score of 2 or 1 will require a comment this year; please provide a detailed explanation; Jude will contact the other team and help educate.
  • If you can’t field a team for a Saturday game, please notify other team and Jude by Thursday
  • Games to 11; 75 minutes; hard cap at 60 minutes.
  • Only one field marshall hired for whole league!
    • So, don’t expect timing horns (except at Magnuson); bring cones & keep time; know field dimensions (It’s OK with Jude if agree with other coach on smaller field, e.g. in high winds!!)
    • Send responsible high school seniors to Jude to be additional marshalls!
    • Please manage your own lost and found items (use Facebook group if necessary, not Jude!)
  • Weather hotline

Kate on rosters & waivers

  • Hard copy hand-out
  • Minimum roster requirement is 3 girls and 4 boys (by Saturday deadline)
  • There is sometime a ~1-2 hour delay between roster additions and waiver availability
  • Advice if you are still placing kids (e.g. by skill) onto teams: put them all on one roster so they can sign waivers, then re-organize later.
  • Paper waivers can be scanned and emailed, or snail mailed; be sure to use current version of waiver!
  • Encouraged but not required: Have medical authorizations on hand; there is a template on the DiscNW web site
  • Report incidents to Jude so he can check in and utilize DiscNW insurance coverage (can help improve access for future emergencies)

7pm

Jude on other topics

  • J-star discs (one for free to each coach tonight!)
    • Can get thumb further on top to help stabilize forehand
    • New throwers have a lot of success with them
    • May be less stable in high winds
    • Kids may develop better form and throwing mechanics using smaller discs
    • Buy more (rainbow!) for ~$7 through Disc NW
    • Vision is for all 3rd and 4th grade teams to use
    • If you like them want more, there are some emerging options for buying J-star discs in bulk (but they’re much less pretty than the DiscNW ones)
  • Issues with our growing youth population
    • Field access
    • Coach shortage
      • If one coach of multiple teams needs sequenced games in one location, it increases scheduling challenges
      • Working on Coach Development Program (but may be ~5 years behind)
    • May need to make league changes
      • E.g. go to 5v5 in elementary
        • fixes field problem by allowing
        • but requires even more coaches
      • E.g. go to 4v4 to for gender equality
      • As one of biggest youth program in world/U.S. we have a chance to influence

7:30 end

  • More growth and teams will require more financial aid to maintain access for all
  • Save the date and start planning bid items — 2016 Fall Bid is Saturday Nov 12 is Fall Bid

Questions:

  • Are there AEDs available at major fields like Magnuson?
  • Phillips deal through Michael Lapin on AEDs for kids (cardiac risk is relatively low for elementary students; risk increases dramatically around grade 9)
  • John Leahy: is going to 5v5 a sacrifice or not?
    • Jude personally thinks it works better for elementary kids
    • Scores are higher; more touches per game; more success
    • Jenn
      • voluntarily signed up new 4th graders
      • expectation is that girls will have a more equal experience
    • Shannon’s 5v5 fall league packed a lot of kids onto the Roosevelt field

Ideas:

  • What about playing on other days of week, e.g. after school?
  • Could elementary teams play in other seasons?  (Conflict with soccer?)
  • Field advocacy group (in 80s?) used to go to city council meetings and wave discs around (John Beal is still at Seattle City Parks)
  • Jude: City wants to put turf only where lights already exist (due to NIMBY light pollution concerns)
  • Sometimes less is more
    • Maybe 3 game tournament once a month is as good as weekly Saturday games
    • Do playoffs make sense for elementary school?
    • Maybe play 2 weeks out of 3?  Weekend conflicts are tough, e.g. jazz
    • Fridays?  Some elementary soccer teams like a Friday evening practice
  • Could fields along I-5 corridor expand capacity (e.g. Shoreline)?

 

2016 Junior World Championships venue and coaches

The 2016 Junior World Championships will be held in Wrocław, Poland.  The event will be held from July 31-August 6, 2016 at the facilities at the Pola Marsome fields and the finals will be staged in the Stadion Olimpijski (Stadium), a venue of the 2017 IWGA World Games.  The sponsoring organization in Wrocław has budgeted for 40 teams from 20 nations (about 1,000 players) while the previous events (combined with other European Youth Ultimate activities) were slightly biggger: the 2014 event in Italy hosted 25 nations (1,200) and the 2012 event in London supported 47 teams (1,100 players).

Satellite view of Olympic Stadium complex in Wrocław, Poland.
Satellite view of Olympic Stadium complex in Wroclaw, Poland.

The coaches for the U.S. U-20 Open and U-19 Women’s teams will be Chase Sparling-Beckley (Portland, OR) and Jamie Nuwer (San Francisco, CA), respectively.