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

Coach youth ultimate! (synopsis of the 2010 USA Ultimate resource guide)

Google “coach youth ultimate” in 2017 and the top two hits will be these PDFs from USA Ultimate:

  1. Coaching Youth League Ultimate By Carey Goldenberg
  2. PART 4: Teaching Ultimate

It turns out these PDFs were created in 2010 as part of a larger USAU document called the “USA Ultimate Resource Guide” (archived PDF, 08/09/2010 version).  The 2nd Google hit is Part 4 of the Resource Guide, while the 1st hit is one section in that same Part.  It turns out that most of the guide is still quite timely and useful — whether for coaches, team managers, or organizers of clinics, camps, or leagues.  There are even some sections about growing the sport that might be worth reviving — even in Seattle where youth ultimate is already big — like field acquisition, facilitating ultimate in PE classes,  and getting the word out.   Here’s the entire table of contents…

Table of Contents

  • PART 1: Ultimate Organizations
    • Organizational Structures
  • PART 2: Ultimate Leagues
    • Recruiting Players for Leagues
    • Timing Strategy when Starting a League
    • Field Acquisition for Local Leagues
    • Recruiting and Retaining Women
  • PART 3: Ultimate In Schools
    • 10 Simple Steps To Starting a School-based Ultimate Team
    • Starting an Ultimate Club At Your School
    • Starting a High School League
    • Traveling With a Youth Ultimate Team
    • Growing Youth Ultimate Through PE Classes
  • PART 4: Teaching Ultimate
    • Ultimate In 10 Simple Rules
    • Teaching the Spirit of the Game™
    • Teaching Self-officiating
    • Coaching Youth League Ultimate
    • Running a Youth Skills Clinic
    • Starting an Ultimate Camp
    • Ultimate Drills
  • PART 5: Getting the Word Out
    • Gaining Media Attention
    • Building the Ultimate On-line Presence
  • PART 6: Appendices
    • Appendix A: Sample Camp Application Form
    • Appendix B: Sample Camp Evaluation Form
    • Appendix C: Sample Medical Authorization Form
    • Appendix D: Sample Youth Chaperone Consent and Release Form
    • Appendix E: Sample Waiver/Release of Liability Form
    • Appendix F: Sample Player Information Form
    • Appendix G: Sample Press Release Layout
    • Appendix H: 10 Tips For Writing a Press Release

Things that caught my eye:

  1. The idea of getting some official discs for your school’s PE program.  I’ve meant to do this for years at Eckstein.  I bet just 10-15 discs would be a welcome contribution for a typical PE class.
  2. Goldenberg’s coaching suggestions are aimed mostly at high school, but her ideas of teaching defense first, and then letting a team find their own offensive strategy makes good sense.  I also noticed that when she lists off strategies that a (high school) team could consider, the list included not only horizontal and vertical stack, but also “dominator” and “chaos.”  This reminds me we need a historical list of all the offenses ever tried — just to show kids that they can be creative in how the create, defend, and claim open space.
  3. Goldenberg also mentions the compliment sandwich at the end of her piece… as “praise, comment, praise.”
  4. Goldenberg verbally describes a “straight-on throwing” drill which is diagrammed (with much less confusion for me) in the last section of Part 4 (Ultimate Drills).  The other two drills she describes are also diagrammed.
  5. There’s a historical depiction of DiscNW on page 14.  I was interested in the mention of their role in the “Magnuson Park upgrade” and the proud mention of their online tools: the DiscNW “bulletin board” (which still exists!) and photo/video sharing mechanisms (not sure what these were)…

 

2017 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference theme: building to win

The 4th Annual 2017 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference is returning to the Bay Area on Sunday, March 12th, 2017.  Early registration deadline is March 1.

This year’s conference theme is “Building to Win,” which will focus on team strategies and increasing player & team competitiveness. Our highly trained and elite-level Instructors will lead you through how to plan your season and individual practices, how to best utilize your captains, and managing your team during a tournament. Gain hands-on experience teaching drills and working through critical player/team scenarios. All coaches, players, and captains, whether new or highly-experienced, will gain valuable skills and strategies to help your team flourish!

Date: March 12th, 2017

Time: 8:30am – 4:30pm

Location: TBD (web site says Palo Alto, CA, as of 2/8/2017)

Cost: $85 early bird (before 3/1/2017), $95 regular

Financial Aid: Financial aid is available upon request. Please complete this application by 3/1/2017.

See other posts tagged with YUCC

2017 spring youth tournaments hosted by the Bay Area Disc Association

Please spread the word about two great youth tournaments that will be hosted in 2017, this winter (February) and spring (May) by the Bay Area Disc Association (BADA).

Playing on the beach in California is really fun and requires only a small roster.  Spaghetti Western this year is in May and so doesn’t conflict with Spring Reign.  In addition, BADA offers financial aid for teams or players in need.

King of Bongo

2/18/17
SATURDAY 10:00am-4:00pm
Ocean Beach, San Francisco
U19, U19M, U14

Spaghetti Western

5/20 – 5/21/17
SAT – SUN 9:00am-6:00pm
Grogan Sports Complex, Modesto
U19, U14 (only Sunday)

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.