The United States of Ultimate Map

by | August 26, 2013, 6:00am 19

On June 14th, I had just been green-lighted to attend the EsriUC, the major GIS software conference of the year. In less than 3 weeks, 15,000 geo-geeks would descend onto the San Diego Convention Center. After securing my flight, lodging and conference agenda, I did what any self-respecting ultimate player would do: check if I needed to bring my cleats. I realized that finding a game that fit my schedule would be difficult. Then a thought occurred to bring ultimate to the EsriUC in a unique way.

I decided to make a bid to create a map by utilizing two passions in my life, geography and ultimate. Professionally, I have been creating maps for the past 15 years within the GIS discipline and was introduced to the official game of ultimate 11 years ago, when I moved to the Tampa Bay area.

With the map, I wanted to showcase as many of the playing and viewing opportunities from amateur through professional that ultimate has to offer for the year 2013, since as players we can play at a weekly pickup, a hat tournament, on a college team or club team and now with one and two professional leagues.

One of the major events at the conference is the Map Gallery, which is the ‘showcase game’ of the conference. However, with late notice, I was worried about entry due to registration already being closed. The solution would be to wait in line the day of and secure a no-show’s panel.

I was pressured with less than three weeks to complete a map. Luckily, the data contributors started sending me data that first day. And as I pondered my cleats, I knew that the United States of Ultimate was going to be a crowd-pleaser. I would enter the map into the Most Unique category, which is the hardest to win but offers the most rewarding experience.

The day of the Map Gallery, I was able to reserve a panel and hung the map just before the 2pm deadline for judging. At 3:30pm the doors opened for everyone and I was overwhelmed by the positive response and large numbers of industry colleagues, who were also ultimate players or curious map aficionados.

Nathaniel and Scott Morehouse, Director of Software Development at Esri, pointing to where he used to play ultimate in college

To my surprise, Scott Morehouse, Director of Software Development at Esri, came by and shared his ultimate experience of playing a co-ed pickup game every Saturday in the ’70s at Killian Court, MIT and recalled when he attended Hampshire College the only intercollegiate sport was ultimate. He added that he liked to play loose and barefoot – an aerobic form of team catch with goals to keep things motivated.

Alas, I didn’t win Most Unique but personally the map was a big winner. I’ll be wearing version 1.0 of the map as a pair of custom shorts. Next year, I’ll bring my cleats and organize a game for Esri users at Balboa Park but before then, if you are interested in enriching the ultimate community with geospatial solutions, contact me and lets work on version 2.0 of the United States of Ultimate.

Click here to download the United States of Ultimate Map (PDF, 17.1 MB)

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  • Want

    "custom shorts", you say?

  • rrudnic

    This is pretty cool, but if he was trying to show all playing opportunities why include college teams but not include HS and Club teams on there?

    • Nathaniel

      Hello rrudnic, thanks for your response and good question. A few things, a disclaimer is on the map stating that while my search for data was exhaustive, it was not a complete search of all things ultimate. Also, with three weeks to complete a map, I couldn't geocde or digitize all of the happenings, of which youth, high school and club team data did not have geogaphic component (lat/long). Thanks!

      • rrudnic

        I completely understand the limitations you were faced with on time, and also what the available data offers. I think if you could have those things on the next version that would really bring it to another level.

  • PaigeK

    Yes! I was there! I left my business card on your map to cement the ultimate-mapgeek connection. I will definitely join the ESRI pick up game next year, should it occur, and sign me up for a pair of those map shorts too

  • Nathaniel

    Thanks for the interest. Coming soon to the savage ultimate online store.

  • Caroloopy

    Shorts! also, check out Spin for shorts… they may be able to do something too. <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  • Nathaniel

    From the text box in the map:

    The purpose of this map is to showcase as many of the events that Ultimate has to offer for the year 2013. While this map is exhaustive it is not a complete collection of all things Ultimate.

    Thanks to Chris Oakman of for providing GIS data; his site is a fresh resource (each game verified within last 90 days) but not the only resource to find a pickup game; check Facebook, Meetup, local clubs, etc. for more opportunities. Thanks to Christian Jennewein of for providing lat/long of hat tournaments; while not limited to only hat tournaments, the site has one of the best collections around (ffindr data was promoted over USAU if duplications occurred). Thanks to Matthew Bourland of USA Ultimate for providing lat/long of college teams (Open, Women's and B teams were consolidated to one entry per college). USA Ultimate (USAU) is the governing body of Ultimate for college, club, high school and youth events in North America. USAU is the best resource to start your Ultimate opportunities. Remaining data sources were digitized: USAU club events were collected from, Nexgen (the best college talents playing against the best club teams), AUDL (American Ultimate Disc League – finishing their second season) and MLU (Major League Ultimate – finishing their inaugural season) from their respective websites. All data is within a GDB with cartographic representations and annotation.

  • Awesome! & Beautiful! Well done.

  • yo! super cool when a person can combine their 2 passions, very cool! i did the same with hip hop and ultimate, check – greatest rapping frisbee player

  • Nathaniel

    All of the map downloads broke dropbox's 20GB/day limit, which is now increased to 200GB/day.

  • Tom

    Can you share the .SHP files and layers with some other similarly passionate GIS & Ultimate people?

    • Nathaniel

      Version 2.0 will be addressing this. Contact me via email.

  • Now I have a reason to go to the conference next year!

  • Now available in the SAVAGEultimate online store here!

  • Michelle

    Hey Nathaniel or anyone attending ESRI UC 2014 next week — Any interest in meeting up for a throwing session or two during the conference?? I'm hoping to get a few touches in next week!

  • Nathaniel

    Bringing my cleats. Maybe we can coordinate a game at an existing pick-up on pickup

  • Nathaniel

    From there is an existing pickup game 5.4 miles from the convention center at Roosevelt and Cushing in Point Loma from 5pm to 7pm which may be a good choice or just behind the convention center if not occupied? Maybe a sign up on the community boards, I'll put one up on Saturday.

  • Nathaniel

    The above is on a Wednesday