Tag Archives: DiscNW

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

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)?

 

William Bartram’s Perspectives on Youth Ultimate Programming for Coaches

William Bartram (aka “Bunny”) had been Executive Director of the Northwest Ultimate Association (aka DiscNW) for almost 10 years when he gave the following presentation at the inaugural 2014 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference.

Below are the notes I took (along time stamps) while watching the recording archived by the Bay Area Disc Association and Skyd Magazine’s YouTube channel.   The first slides offered a little background on Bunny (which is otherwise hard to find):

Brief ultimate bio of William Bartram
Brief ultimate bio of William Bartram

“Perspectives on Youth Ultimate Programming for Coaches”

Overview of youth ultimate in Seattle

  • Time line — Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.14.32 PM
  • Early youth scene in Seattle was all coach-driven.  Key coaches were teachers who formed teams independently at their schools and eventually organized scrimmages
  • Mary would photocopy rules & newspaper clippings and send to PE teachers around town
  • Over time a league developed (MS in lat 1990s)
  • Those middle school players drove development at HS level because they wanted to keep playing
  • Jeff Jorgensen, Mary and Joe started Spring Reign [in 1998?]
  • Joey Gray and others formed DiscNW (mostly focused on adult players)
  • Mike Mullen and Roger Crafts start summer camps (originally in partnership with Seattle Parks with 40 players; 10 years later it would partner with DiscNW serving 900 campers each summer )
  • Over time, DiscNW took on administration of youth programs (web site, registration tools, insurance, communication, scheduling, etc.)
    • 2004: first full-time staff
    • Eventually hired admin assistant
  • League thrives due to DiscNW handing logistics so coaches can focus more on coaching
  • Financial story
    • Originally subsidized by adult leagues
    • Now many youth programs are self-supporting
    • Youth Development Fund provides financial aid and important programs that might otherwise be unsustainable
    • Fall Bid fundraising event
    • Hosted youth summits (to get feedback from community)
  • (6:10) Overview of DisNW youth programs
    • (6:30) Leagues
      • Good financial performer
      • Spring elementary and middle school
      • Fall boys HS; spring girls HS
      • Fall middle school league with Seattle Public Schools
        • Started when Joey Gray & others lobbied District to use funds from the Families and Education Levy
        • SPS pays for fields and coaching stipends
        • Principals love it because $ comes from District budget, not their own, and it’s a great after-school program
        • DiscNW provides expertise, scheduling, free discs
      • Spring club league (but most teams still based on school affiliations)
      • Summer league leads towards YCC; 2014 new winter club league also popular with the U16 crowd
    • (8:45) Camps
      • Very successful as a learning program and financially
      • 2013: 255k$ revenue, 150k$ in expenses (100k$ profit supported $16k financial aid & 4k$ for south Seattle free camps [led by Sam Terry])
      • Camp directors, counselors, leads all paid
      • More popular with MS than HS, but elite HS players getting new elite & leadership training during summer 2014 implemented with Lou Berris (sp? skilled coach)
    • (10:33) Tournaments
      • Many run but most discontinued because they aren’t profitable & sustainable
      • Usually take a lot of energy and serve teams that already have regular playing opportunities
      • Trying now to serve teams that have fewer options?
      • Spring Reign is largest
        • 96 teams (8 elementary, 40 MS, 48 HS)
        • Last week of April
    • (11:45) Elite Club
      • Started with MoHo in late 1990s
        • Not affiliated with DiscNW initially
        • Started when NOMS MS players wanted to keep playing together as high schoolers
        • Interest has waned, but spirit of that program guides current programs
        • Elite player development centered on Youth Club Championships
          • Early summer club leads into Championships in Minnesota
          • League incorporates YCC and other high-level teams
          • Hiring committee for coaches who select assistants
          • Coaches paid by DiscNW and travel with teams, manages player fees, order uniforms, logistics
          • Rusty Brown serves as general manager
    • (14:25) Beyond DiscNW (filling gaps, developing new programs)
      • Fryz – Started by Randy Lim (over 200 players in 2014; travel to play teams across U.S.)
      • RiseUp
      • Ultimate for Peace
      • All Girl Everything
      • Future YUCC focus?
      • Up Dawg (UW Element)
      • Fall Drizzle (WWU Chaos)

(16:20) Conceptual Framework for Events

  • Build it and they will come works for a while; but long-term growth requires more planning
  • Focus here is on local or regional level (not National like RiseUp)
  • Ultimate does not yet enjoy “Varsity Status” — Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 12.05.22 AM
  • Ultimate can grow within a club sport setting with key advanatages:
    • Self-officiation, Spirit of the Game
    • Strong community
  • (22:19) Youth ultimate event components
    • Spring Reign as an example with goal being “celebrate community”
    • State Championships
      • in fall for boys and spring for girls
      • (31:30) tried co-ed a couple times, but interest wasn’t there

(32:00) Building a Coaching Community

  • “Finding coaches to meet player demand is one of the biggest hurdles to growth in our area.”
    • We try to find coaches within our membership
    • Low rate of success, but matches are valuable!
    • Learning ops for coaches
      • Host USAU clinics
      • Educate PE teachers
    • Development ops
      • YCC coaching ops
      • Many returning players choose to coach
      • Fall 2015 Disc NW starts paying stipends to fall HS boys coaches
    • Role of coaches to make organizing easier — Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.04.14 AM
    • (40:00) Couple anecdotes about coaches
      • Ken Round
        • Didn’t know ultimate when he formed MS team and brought to Spring Reign (caused friction)
        • Parents brought RVs, set up tents
        • Took 6th grade cohort through 12th grade
        • Some players went to YCC and Westerns (2nd)
      • Fighting in ultimate!
        • Seattle team and less experienced Vancouver team
        • Fisticuffs in 2nd half
        • Spirit circle later in the weekend (including some parents)
        • Vancouver team made finals on Sunday playing OR team
        • Foul called on final point; resolved without violence; came back to win!
      • Help find more coaches! Builds resiliency
        • Mr. Jamsheed
          • Large program at Bailey Gasherd (sp)
          • Terrible at administration (e.g. Spring Reign registration)
          • Started team at Jane Addams and recruited team parent to handle logistics

(45:00) Q&A

  • (47:00) How do transition from volunteer to staffed organization?
    • (47:25) DiscNW example
      • Managing DiscNW was done by operational Board and voluntary E.D.
      • Lot’s of uber-volunteers doing things, but buy-in from Board and understanding from the community that there was going to be a paid leader
      • 2001: Part-time E.D. Mike Keiran (main job was to figure out how to fund his position!)  IT guy, so he made changes to web site and forced payments (via a waitlist).
      • As you get organized, you can deliver higher-quality events and therefore raise fees.
    • Youth director was hired because Bunny was doing it on his own, but youth was a different customer!
      • Hired a part-time organizer and lost money, but promoted youth programs, and hired Wynne and later an assistant to 3.5 FTEs…

 

Seattle parent’s guide to DiscNW accounts and child registration

Parents: jump to the 2015  2016 2017 DiscNW registration guide

As a coach and team manager I know it’s always a challenge to efficiently use the cool tools that DiscNW offers to the parents of of elementary and middle school players.  The process of rostering players and getting parents and players to all sign their on-line waivers and concussion forms is the logistical crux of the spring season.  But it’s worth it, because if you do it right the web site will do wonderful things, like automatically sending out game reminders with RSVPs, and bypassing reams of printed paperwork.

So, here’s a guide to creating a parent account at discnw.org and then adding your child to your account.  If you can get through this step, then it will be easy for your coach to put your child on the team roster.  Only after the coach is done will e-waivers auto-magically appear in your account for you and your player(s) to read and sign.  The good news is, once the process is complete, you’ll get nifty functionality, like: automated game reminder emails; handy calendars with all your game times and locations; and RSVP emails and back-end so the coach knows who is playing in a particular game.


2016 DiscNW registration guide

Get your child ready to play in a DiscNW leage by following one of the following options, depending on if you DO or DON’T already have a parent account on the DiscNW web site.

(If you’re not sure if you have one or not, you can go to this link and enter emails/usernames to see if you’re in the system and/or to re-set your password.)

If you DO already have a parent account
  1. Login to the DiscNW site here — https://www.discnw.org/login
  2. Click on the Hello message in the upper right corner to reveal a menu like so — Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 12.32.45 PM
  3. Click on “Your Profile” and you should see a page with an “Edit profile” menu which — if clicked — will show an “Add child” option like this —Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.49.09 AM
  4. Click on the “Add child” link and fill out the form that loads.  It should look like this:Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.52.26 AM
  5. Email your coach or team manager to let them know your child is ready to be added to the team roster.  To grease the skids, be sure to give them the first and last names you entered, and the child’s gender.  That way they’ll be able to quickly add the right child to the roster (by using the nifty auto-complete functionality provided by the DiscNW rostering tool).

If you DON’T already have a parent account
  1. Create one here — https://www.discnw.org/@@create-account
  2. After you create your account you should see a handy link (within a light green highlighted message) offering to “create a player record for one of your children” like so — Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.37.03 AM
  3. Click on that link and fill out the form loads.  It should look like this:Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.52.26 AM
  4. Email your coach or team manager to let them know your child is ready to be added to the team roster.    To grease the skids, be sure to include the first and last names you entered, and the child’s gender.  That way they’ll be able to quickly add the right child to the roster (by using the nifty auto-complete functionality provided by the DiscNW rostering tool).

Jude LaRene is new youth director for DiscNW

Jude in action (from his public FB photos)
Jude in action (from his public FB photos)

Congratulations to Jude LaRene who will be the new Director of Youth Operations for DiscNW.  Jude is a talented, serious player (who was on my pod in the 2013 Masters Hat League) who in a game often takes the time to lead strategically or offer guidance to newer adult players (like me).  With his extensive experience playing and coaching with DiscNW, and running small businesses like Izilla Toys and Velocevelo, I hope he will improve how youth ultimate is organized through DiscNW and continue the impressive growth accomplished under the outgoing Director, Wynne Scherf.

The news on the DiscNW site (posted Aug ~12, 2014)
The news on the DiscNW site (posted Aug ~12, 2014)

Jude’s DiscNW history shows that he’s been actively playing and coaching in DiscNW leagues since at least 2006 and has captained the teams “Tofu” and “Vince.”  He has coached the Washington Middle School “Dawgs” since at least 2006 (along with Pam Kraus, Autumn Tocchi, Adam Roca, and Noah Boudra) and coached an elementary mixed team in 2011 (Montlake Epic).   The Dawgs participated in Spring Reign in 2013 and 2014.  He coordinated a USA Ultimate coaching clinic in 2011 and generally seems deeply dedicated to and steeped in the sport.