21 Influential People in Ultimate Today

by | May 13, 2014, 7:00am 70

What makes someone influential in the ultimate world? Is it a coach who teaches someone the finer points of throwing? A community organizer that builds a foundation or league from the ground up? A mentor who instills a lifelong love of the game in her team? A business leader that impacts the direction of the sport? A player that dominates the competition while winning with spirit of the game? An influential person in the context of this list does these things too. But influencers also bring growth and global impact to ultimate as a whole through their ideas, innovations, and inspiration.

In this article, we highlight 21 individuals with considerable influence on ultimate in the modern era. In crafting this list, we took into consideration a person’s public profile and the magnitude with which their ideas are shaping and impacting the landscape of the sport today. Special attention is paid to their work over the past 12 months. While researching the people on this list, it became very clear how good we have it in the ultimate community. The sport has never been in better shape, and it’s in no small part due to the tireless effort of the people mentioned below. As is the case for just about every list, there is a large amount of subjectivity involved. Who is making a difference in your commnity? Let us know in the comments section.

Gwen Ambler

2012_Gwen_AmblerAmbler is one of the most accomplished players in the game, having won five national championships and two world championships over a 15-year career and coached several more. She is also intimately involved with the growth and development of the sport in multiple capacities. Her work with the Seattle Ultimate Foundation administers college scholarships to local ultimate players each year and plans and coordinates fundraising efforts. Nationally, Ambler has been a Vice President on the Board of Directors for USA Ultimate for over five years, serving on the Executive Committee, Spirit of the Game, Observers and Rules Committee, and Conduct Committee. She is also a member of USAU’s Disc Standards and Hall of Fame working groups. Ambler has also coached at the National Ultimate Training Camp, Seattle Youth Camps, and AGE UP.

David Barkan

david_barkanAs co-founder and CEO of Ultimate Peace, Barkan uses the sport of ultimate to promote inter-faith dialogue and provide a fun outlet for children caught up in the crosshairs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He founded Ultimate Peace in 2008, with a vision of using the sport of ultimate and spirit of the game as tools for peace and bridge-building in conflict zones. His camps promote listening to another point of view, finding common ground, and resolving differences amicably – all core competencies of a great ultimate player. Barkan has coached youth ultimate for over 30 years on four continents, won a world club championship as a player in 1995 with San Francisco’s Double Happiness, and was inducted into the USA Ultimate Hall of Fame in 2010.

Tiina Booth

Boston Whitecaps vs Philadelphia Spinners

Photo by Pete Krautscheid – UltiPhotos.com

Booth may have retired from full-time coaching last year, but her schedule is as packed as ever. She is a guru of the sport, founding the Amherst Regional High School ultimate team 24 years ago and coaching the squad through a period of unprecedented growth and success. Booth’s Hurricanes won 19 state ultimate championships, three national titles, and too many regular season tournaments to count. Under her tutelage, the ultimate program expanded to include a varsity and two junior varsity squads for both boys and girls. Booth also guided the US Junior National team to a pair of gold medals and a bronze. Her future plans include either franchising or expanding her National Ultimate Training Camp, continuing to lead coaching clinics and certifications for USA Ultimate, and exploring the option of coaching at the college or club levels.

Tom Crawford


As CEO of USA Ultimate, Crawford has steered his ship through turbulent waters of late. Responding to surveys of USAU members calling for a more meaningful and consistent regular season, Crawford has spent the better part of two years designing, tweaking, and defending his organization and the much-maligned Triple Crown Tour from accusations that money and the elite men’s division are being prioritized over the needs of the average player. Despite the controversy, membership has increased under Crawford’s leadership, sponsorship dollars are up, and more youth are playing the sport than ever before. He also bagged a much-coveted broadcast deal with ESPN that expands ultimate’s profile nationally, all while beating back challenges from several upstart professional leagues hell-bent on prying away his elite club teams. The sport is thriving under Crawford’s watch, and a clean sweep of the open, women’s, and mixed divisions at the 2013 Under-23 World Championships shows that American ultimate is poised to continue its dominance for the foreseeable future.

Will Deaver

Deaver_WillLove it or hate it, Deaver was the mastermind behind USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour. As Managing Director of Competition and Athlete Programs, Deaver was the lead power broker behind restructuring a more meaningful and consistent club regular season. He spearheaded behind-the-scenes negotiations with elite club teams at the outset of the plan, and has thus far prevented defections to professional leagues. Last year, Deaver fended off his most serious challenge, a new proposed league from NexGen (a plan that would have destroyed elite USAU men’s club ultimate), and has remained one step ahead of the MLU and AUDL by continuing to improve USAU’s Triple Crown Tour offerings. His unequivocal response to MLU Commissioner Jeff Snader’s attempt at reconciliation shows that he is not taking his competition lightly. Deaver is also the Deputy Chair of WFDF’s Ultimate Committee, tasked with overseeing any and all global issues affecting participants in ultimate and overseeing world championship competitions, and was one of the brains behind the Callahan award.

Charlie Eisenhood

US Open 2013 -- Thursday Action

Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Growth has been explosive for Eisenhood, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Ultiworld. Eisenhood burst onto the scene two years ago with a detailed breakdown of the landscape of professional ultimate leagues, bringing a serious media background into a sport that typically eschews sincerity for the ironic. Eisenhood carries a journalist’s sensibility, tirelessly networking and scooping stories of major interest to the ultimate world. Recently, he has expanded Ultiworld’s focus into Grantland-style analytic breakdowns of teams and strategies. The effort paid off when his two statistics editors, Jeremy Weiss and Sean Childers, had a research paper accepted to MIT’s prestigious Sloan Conference on sports analytics, where they were selected to present a poster and rub elbows with a who’s who of sports wonks. Eisenhood has also experimented with a wide variety of monetization strategies of late, hoping to secure Ultiworld’s place as the number one website for ultimate news and insight.

Alex Ghesquiere

Alex_GhesquiereAny coach who defeats the 7-time defending national champions in the first year on the job is going to get noticed. Under Ghesquiere’s tutelage, Scandal knocked off seemingly invincible Fury in dominating fashion to upend the women’s division. “Dutchy” brought his championship pedigree to Washington from San Francisco, where his steady leadership helped bring Revolver two club national championships (one as captain, and another as player/coach) and one world club championship. He also coached Team USA to victory at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. Trademark patience and calm, combined with a keen strategic mind and coaching experience in open, women’s, and mixed club divisions, ensures that his services will be in demand for years to come. 

Beau Kittredge

Photo by Brandon Wu – UltiPhotos.com

Ultimate’s most dominant player has expanded his repertoire to include a series of children’s books and humorous columns. His article exploring existential angst surrounding employment, ultimate, and his place in the world struck a nerve with the ultimate community and pulled back the veil of ignorance on a complex individual. On the field, vastly improved throws have complemented the most consistent deep threat and quickest first step in the game. His growing series of titles now include one college, three club, and four world championships. Kittredge’s defection from the MLU’s San Francisco Dogfish to the AUDL’s San Jose Spiders almost single-handedly altered the trajectory of the two leagues.

Rob Lloyd

lloyd_rob_cisco_400Lloyd brings serious financial heft to the sport as owner of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). He purchased a 90% stake in the AUDL from then-President Josh Moore following a less than ideal first season of small attendance numbers, multiple disbanded franchises, and a lawsuit that tore the league apart. Lloyd’s financial muscle and business acumen as President of Development and Sales for networking multinational Cisco brought a measure of stability to the fledgling league. A flurry of offseason activity has brought the AUDL back ahead of the MLU in a two-horse race for professional supremacy after seemingly being left for dead. The defection of superstar Beau Kittredge to the AUDL brought most of his Revolver teammates with him, and the league is poised to continue its growth into more traditional ultimate hotspots.

Kevin Minderhout

20101124103224971Call him the comeback kid. Minderhout was on top of the world as recently as 2013. His NexGen Network filmed crisp, high-definition video at seemingly every high-profile tournament in the country. They had an exclusive relationship to film USAU’s club championships and were the first to consistently cover tournaments with a play-by-play and color commentary crew. The NexGen summer tour drew large crowds showcasing the best players in the country for a reasonable price. Then, amidst the turmoil of start-up professional leagues, Minderhout proposed his own league that would poach the top 16 club teams in their entirety from USAU. Behind-the-scenes accounts from players involved in the negotiations indicated heavy interest in the league save for its conflict with qualifying for the world championships. Minderhout may have lost that gamble (and the NexGen Tour due to financial difficulty), but a new deal to broadcast part of the USAU club championships this Fall show that we haven’t heard the last of him yet.

Tim Morrill

972111_685302034828826_954974555_nAs owner of Morrill Performance, Tim is now the go-to trainer of record for ultimate teams. Tim is the head trainer for Boston’s Ironside, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist who has worked with youth, collegiate, and professional athletes through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning Boston, High Intensity Training, 365 Performance, and NCAA Divisions I and III. He expanded the business internationally in 2013 by flying to Germany for an intense two-day session of clinics and combines. Whether its consultations, out-of-the-box training programs, articles, public speaking tours, performance clinics, or combines, Morrill has quickly diversified his offerings as a one-stop shop for everything devoted to ultimate fitness.

Michelle Ng


Photo by Brian Canniff – UltiPhotos.com

Tireless is the word most used to describe Ng, founder and head of Without Limits, club player with Raleigh’s Phoenix, and Events and Relationship Manager for VC Ultimate. Ng is almost single-handedly responsible for promoting the growth and development of women’s ultimate, and puts together tournaments, skills clinics, and resource manuals across youth, college, and club divisions. The past year has been rough on women’s ultimate with media attention and an increasingly bottom-line driven sport focusing its attention elsewhere. Ng continues to toil away full time in the background despite this new reality, putting on upwards of seven tournaments/clinics per year while living out of her car. The year has been challenging for Ng because of horrendous weather and other tournament snafus, yet she continues to toil away, inspiring current and future generations of ultimate players. 

Mario O’Brien

Mario_OBrien240x240-240x240As Producer and Creative Director for RISE UP Ultimate, O’Brien has done more to democratize knowledge of ultimate’s fundamentals than anyone in ultimate history. The longtime Rhino captain (now Sockeye player) has flown around the world tirelessly promoting the video series, and has received glowing responses for its impact on emerging teams and countries. O’Brien is further involved with growth and outreach through ultimate camps Spin Academy and Next Level Ultimate Camp and has participated in clinics in six different countries. He also promotes dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth through outreach organization Ultimate Peace. O’Brien has proven to be an adept commentator, calling numerous broadcasts as an analyst for the NexGen Network.

Robert “Nob” Rauch

RobertRauch_1 Just as he developed the Ultimate Players Association as its fourth Executive Director from a rag-tag organization into a professionally managed governing body, Rob Rauch led the World Flying Disc Federation in 2013 to its biggest accomplishment yet: provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee. In the ongoing quest for the sport’s legitimacy, Rauch brought in monetary support, an ongoing dialogue with the IOC for future inclusion in the games, a great shot at permanent recognition for ultimate in 2015, and did it all while emphasizing spirit of the game as a key selling point. As President of WFDF, Rauch has helped expand the organization to 56 formal member countries and will be coordinating 160 teams and 4,000 athletes at the World Club Championships in Lecco, Italy this summer. Rauch is also increasing his public profile by wading into some of the most pressing issues in the contemporary ultimate world, exploring a move to implement observers in international competition and voicing his displeasure with the founding principles of burgeoning American professional leagues. Rauch has quietly brought a professionalism and managerial rigor to WFDF, and is poised to lead the growth of ultimate’s global footprint.

Matt “Skip” Sewell

Photo by Brian Chu

Photo by Brian Chu

Sewell has been one of ultimate’s main power brokers in the last decade, serving as an informal liaison between the elite player community and the lead organizational bodies. Many of the biggest changes in structure and format of USAU events have come about largely because of a push from Sewell, from founding Cultimate as a for-profit tournament venture, to establishing the Ultimate Invite Championships as an end-of-season alternative for teams on the cusp of Nationals, to agitating for changes to the overall structure of the club season. He is currently serving as Creative Director and Brand Manager for the MLU, where he has been outspoken about his displeasure with the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour.

Brodie Smith


Photo by Nick Lindeke – UltiPhotos.com

Social media superstar and Doublewide national champion, Smith has the most powerful branding of anyone in ultimate frisbee. His trick shot collaborations with well-known Youtube channels have earned Smith over 550,000 subscribers and instant name recognition outside of the ultimate world. Smith maintains powerful connections with personalities at ESPN, and earned the AUDL numerous clips and shoutouts on Sportcenter’s Top 10. Oh, and he’s not bad at ultimate either, having won two college championships and a club title. Smith is rumored to have signed the biggest deal in professional ultimate history, worth upwards of five figures a season.

Jeff Snader

d402567a02f817d63c2583aa257590c7Over the last several years, MLU Commissioner Jeff Snader has shown a knack for stirring the pot. He brought military precision as coach of Philadelphia’s Southpaw, and led the Philadelphia Spinners to the first AUDL title. In a shocking move, Snader broke the Spinners off from AUDL and formed his own independent league, attracting a who’s who of superstars from the club circuit and premier sponsors such as Puma. 2014, however has been trying for the MLU, as main rivals AUDL poached a number of key players from the league during the offseason. Snader has also frequently sparred with USA Ultimate. In January, USAU blocked the MLU from sponsoring team jerseys for college and youth participants in championship events. In a series of controversial moves, Snader blasted USAU for doing a “horrific job” and specifically called out CEO Tom Crawford’s salary. A week later, he sent a letter to USAU proposing a partnership and offering to donate $10,000 to youth development initiatives. Snader will have a lot of work to do to keep his league afloat in the coming months.

Elliot Trotter

elliotvoodooAs founder and Editor-in-Chief of Skyd Magazine (disclaimer: the website you are reading right now), Trotter sparked a revolution in ultimate media. Before his creation, ultimate news was filtered through dozens of ad-hoc blogs and hasty after-action reports on rec.sport.disc. Trotter calculated correctly that the ultimate community was starving for information, and the site continues to expand its coverage following a successful crowdsourced fundraising campaign in 2013. His entrepreneurship doesn’t end there. Trotter co-founded RISE UP – ultimate’s first professional instructional video series – and High Release, a magazine that brings strategy, insight, and stories about ultimate from some of the top minds and players in the game. He played ultimate for the MLU’s Seattle Rainmakers and USAU club team Voodoo, becoming one of the first outspoken gay male players in elite ultimate in the process. In case all of that wasn’t enough, in 2014, he launched Ultimate Globe Trotter, a travel-focused web series featuring the world’s best ultimate teams and their stories.

Matty Tsang

matty-smile-at-wc-tryouts-croppedTsang’s roots in the ultimate-crazed Bay Area run deep. He began playing as a sophomore in 1992 for defending college champion UC Santa Cruz, coached UC-Berkeley’s Pie Queens to multiple national championship births, and coaches a middle school team in the East Bay Youth Ultimate League. Over his eight year tenure with San Francisco’s Fury, Tsang has experienced more success than any coach in ultimate history, winning seven straight national titles and two world championships. Under his guidance, Fury fine-tuned its horizontal stack and enhanced the team’s offensive efficiency, while tirelessly working to refine the team’s on-field strategies and mental toughness. Fury may have come in 2nd last year for the first time since 2005, but with strong recruitment year after year, a full offseason of rest, and Tsang’s steady coaching, don’t be surprised if they begin another run. He joins the AUDL’s San Francisco Flamethrowers this year as Director of Player Development for their inaugural season.

Patrick van der Valk

Photo by Edgar Nuñez

Photo by Edgar Nuñez

Known as the “King of Beach Ultimate”, Patrick has been almost solely responsible for the growth of beach ultimate around the world. He started playing grass ultimate in 1979 in his native Holland, but his love affair with beach started after a move to Portugal in the late 90s. Finding grass fields too expensive to rent, he took to the beach and single-handedly started the ultimate scene in Portugal. His passion for beach ultimate was so great that in 2001, he transformed a conversation over drinks at Paganello into an official entity: the Beach Ultimate Lovers Association. Over its nearly 15-year history, BULA has helped standardize beach rules and provide support for growing beach tournaments and leagues. Beach promises to be at the front of people’s minds in 2015, as the World Championships of Beach Ultimate will be held in Dubai and the Beach Ultimate Championships will be played in the United States for the first time. In addition to his work with beach ultimate, Patrick is also a WFDF board member and serves as the head of the WFDF Spirit of the Game committee, where he has been an outspoken proponent of spirit and self-officiation in ultimate.

Ben Wiggins

moscowIt’s a safe bet that wherever ultimate is played, Ben Wiggins will be there. Whether it’s an up-and-coming tournament in Amsterdam, Seattle’s Riot, a development clinic in Russia, or explaining the finer points of footwork to a 14-year-old in Colombia, Wiggins is the consummate teacher. He constantly seeks out new opportunities to spread his love of the game globally, and has become a brand in his own right. Wiggins’ knowledge of the game is encyclopedic, but what really stands out in his sincerity and kindness. He was never the most athletic person on the field during his playing days, but his intelligence and creative throwing ability earned him the respect of all of his competitors. More recently he has taken his coaching virtual, playing a starring role in Mario O’Brien’s RiseUp series of online instructional videos. Despite doctors orders sending him to an early retirement on account of too many concussions, Wiggins showed the young guys he still has it with an impressive out-of-nowhere performance in the 2013 MLU Western Conference championship.

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  • carlosdavis

    Jeremy, to what would you attribute the split of 3 women to 18 men in this list of 21? Did you notice that inequity in the list before you published it, and, if so, did you follow any process to identify possible biases and adjust accordingly? From what people and sources did you draw this information?

    • Ridiculous

      It's Jeremy's job to make sure there are more influential women in ultimate?

      • Carlos isn't asking for more women to be on this list, necessarily. He's asking for some reflection on why there is inequity in the list. How was the list created, what possible biases may have played a role, etc. My comment below (mentioning three more very influential women) was intended as a reply to Carlos.

        • guesta

          Carlos asked for an "adjust[ment]", so he kind of did.

          • guestb

            He asked if there was an adjustment… not for an adjustment

      • Heads up

        If he's a journalist, then it's his job to note it, get the story about why it's so, and tell readers. I'm pretty interested in why there's so much money floating around, and so many rich guys involved, and yet the person who's done the most to make women's ultimate happen is living out of her car. Occurs to me I ought to port the story over to Jez now.

      • William Wilcock

        Since the list is in good part subjective, yes it absolutely is Jeremy's job to ask himself why only 3 out of 21 in the list are women in sport that on the face of it has pretty good gender equity.

    • Marianna

      What about the racial inequality that ultimate maintains? Look at both this list and the list of callahan nominees for 2014, does it bother anyone else that its predominantly white? Obviously there are complex issues behind this like how success in sports ties to income level and how race affects income level, but ultimate is progressive. Don't we want to push past this and make a change, doesn't this bother us? Ultimate should be one of the cheapest sports out there if you take out transportation cost.

    • Why has ultimate become a target of oppression and inequality? There are so many more REAL areas of oppression in the world and in America. I am a social worker and work with at risk populations. I can imagine their response to comments like this and articles about the gender inequality and become complaining that they don't get the disc thrown to them as much as they like while playing a game once a week; when my clients struggle how to make $5 for food for a family of 4 stretch for the entire week. Ultimate players need to get over themselves. If you want to play ultimate and live relatively close to a city, there are plenty of options. I have never seen anyone turn someone away from a pick up or league.

  • Guest

    Tallis Boyd – brings serious recognition to the sport when people mistake him for Macklemore. What a stud.

  • Guest

    On Charlie Eisenhood, you wrote he is "hoping to secure Ultiworld’s place as the number one website for ultimate news and insight." Do you, in fact, know if Skyd or Ultiworld is more frequented?

    • Guest

      Or wonder if USAU is more frequented for news/etc by the more casual fan base?

  • Seconded. A few other people that off the top of my head are definitely worth consideration:

    Miranda Roth – Decorated player at all levels, international influence, founder of the Fryz Ultimate program, Director of Coaching for Ultimate Peace, Head Coach of Paideia Women.

    Adriana Withers – Co-Founder and Owner of VC Ultimate – I believe the the longest running and largest Ultimate company that wasn't founded for the purpose of coordinating Ultimate play.

    DeAnna Ball – Coach of OSU, USAU Board Member, Pufahl Award Winner, National Women's Director (2002-2012).

    • Alex

      what does this mean?

      "wasn't founded for the purpose of coordinating Ultimate play"

      • Anon

        If I had to venture a guess, it means that VC wasn't founded for the purposed of coordinating ultimate play.

    • carlosdavis

      I'm just going to go ahead and say Pauline. If you know, you know.

  • AGE UP

    I also think Hana Kawai and Lisa Nieman deserve recognition for organizing and starting AGE UP in Seattle, a program that incorporates ultimate frisbee while also teaching young men and women about life through guest speakers and field trips to various places. Sam Terry has also been a driving force in the Seattle ultimate scene, taking middle school ultimate to a new level.

    • CantStopWontStop

      Don't forget Rex Gaoaen – co-coach of Asa Mercer MS with Sam Terry. I'd add Mike Kaiser at Aki Kurose MS and Christopher Quigley at South Shore K-8. In Seattle I'd be remiss without mentioning Mary Lowry and Jeff Jorgenson – the founders of Spring Reign and really youth ultimate in Seattle! William Bunny Bartram and Wynne Scherf have been leading DiscNW and deserve recognition as probably the most advanced regional ultimate organization in the country!

      • kraynolds90

        Frank, I was going to mention you! -It seems fitting that you would have already commented and nominated countless others :)

        And a second vote that Miranda Roth should have been on this list. Can't believe she's not.

  • Guest

    Windmill Windup is not an "up-and-coming tournament in Amsterdam" but rather Europe's biggest and most competitive / prestigious tournament… I'm pretty sure it even is bigger than the continental club and national team championships.

  • Liam Grant

    I was hoping to see a few more names from outside the US. There is plenty of people in Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland etc that could be on that list. Great to read about the inspirational work of these heroes though. I'm glad Patrick is in there reppin' for Europe.

  • Ben

    There are hundreds more who deserve to be on this list. Proud of those on it!

  • Guest

    Wow… bar Patrick do the States realise there is a game outside of the USAU and your god forsaken 'professional leagues'.

    The comment about the Windup tournament sums up the ignorance of this post. You have skipped the highly successful EUCS from Europe bringing together the top teams from across Europe for the past 8 years.

    There are numerous other influential people outside who are worthy of recognition ahead of the people on this list. Could have been brilliant end up pointless

    • Anonymous

      American? Quick, name the top finisher from the EUCS over the past three years.

      European? Quick, name the teams who won the USAU Club Championships the past three years.

      That, my friend, is influence.

      • Really? Or is it because europeans are better informed and read sources about Ultimate on other countries while USA players are totally focused on their own nationals ;)

        • huh?

          It's almost like they just prefer focusing on the best the sport has to offer. Tsk tsk.

  • Seriously. Sure can't wait til some other countries learn the game.

  • Guest

    Pretty good list.

    Lower profile, but highly influential is Danny Saunders the director of Ultimate Canada. Ultimate Canada has has more people playing in leagues than anywhere else in the world.

    Coach of the AUDL (undefeated-champion) Toronto RUSH and creator of Ulticards Evan Phillips deserves recognition has done a lot for the sport as well.

    William Bartram and Wynne Scherf at DiscNW also do great work.

  • Jeeeezuss! Some of you are really just terrible. Everyone on this list is worthy of recognition, right?

    No "top [insert number here] list" is perfect, because these lists are created by people, and people are fallible. If you want to add to this list and/or make your own list, then just do so respectfully, as some here have done.

    Asking "why aren't there more women/is there bias", as Carlos did, is (contrary to Kyle's point) pretty much saying "There should be more women on this list." Should there be? Maybe, OK, even putting aside the fact that men have coached like the last 8 women's club championship teams and plenty of the women collegiate teams. And putting aside the fact that most of the movers and shakers in the "pro" leagues are men, which goes to influence, even if you think these leagues are a bad influence.

    Citing something which is a good cause in general (ex" fighting sexism) does not give you a free pass for being annoying in the specific. Nitpicking and friendly fire is not good for growth of the sport. Congrats on continuing the long tradition of ultimate players coming across as spoiled brats.

    p.s. When was the last time you did something to promote ultimate growth that didn't involve use of your keyboard?

    Jacob Sider

    • Jacob, the issue is that articles like this reinforce the idea that certain kinds of influence are more important than other kinds of influence. Or that the world of Ultimate that the author (and contributors) to the article care about are some how more important than other parts of the Ultimate world.

      I'm sorry if you feel that pointing that out is annoying. What I'll say is that most of the commentators that have pointed out the male/US centrism of the article have done it in a much more respectful way than you have in your argument against them. For the most part, they didn't resort to calling people "brats" or claiming that the authors (or the people listed) weren't doing anything for the sport.

      • Longtime Reader

        "Why aren't there more _______?" = annoying
        "Jane Doe and John Smith have been fantastic for the community round here and deserve recognition." = insightful contribution with gratitude.

        Sider came out guns blazing, Kyle, I give you that. But I kind of agree with him. More people need to use their keyboards for praising rather than critiquing. Harder to create with words than destroy. Sir Lancelot Carlosdavis missed a pretty good opportunity there to do just that.

        • Kyle,

          I know you've done a lot for the game, certainly more than I have. I think I've written to you individually to tell you that before, which is why I didn't bother to state in the above post that the "p.s." was not intended for you.

          As to Carlos, it wasn't a "claim" that he hadn't done anything, it was a question. A legitimate question which has yet to be answered.

          And while I really try not to stoop to name-calling online, I don't think "spoiled brat" is that bad, and I think it applied here to people whose PRIMARY reaction to this list is to point out that there are more many men on it than women. It is of course not per se annoying to point this out (please accept my mea culpa if I failed to make this clear at first)-I noticed it too.

          But it is indeed very annoying that the FIRST person to post regarding this fantastic list of people doing fantastic things for Ultimate posted ONLY about the gender imbalance, and also that he did so in a tone implying he was entitled to and qualified to perform some sort of after-the-fact interrogation: "[D]id you follow any process to identify possible biases and adjust accordingly?" Are you kidding me? This is just arrogance dressed up as progressive politics.

          You write: "[A]rticles like this reinforce the idea that certain kinds of influence are more important than other kinds of influence."

          You mean like Tina Booth? "founding the Amherst Regional High School ultimate team 24 years ago … Under her tutelage, the ultimate program expanded to include a varsity and two junior varsity squads for both boys and girls." You mean like Matty Tsang and Alex Ghesquiere, whose collective coaching efforts have led to the last 8 women's club championships? You mean like Elliot Trotter, "one of the first outspoken gay male players in elite ultimate"? This isn't good enough for you and Carlos? Are you kidding me?

          You write: "[A]rticles like this reinforce the idea that … the world of Ultimate that the author (and contributors) to the article care about are some how more important than other parts of the Ultimate world."

          You mean like Ultimate Peace? Israeli Jewish kids playing Ultimate with Palestinian kids? Do you realize what a mis-fire your critique is here?

          Or that the world of Ultimate that the author (and contributors) to the article care about are some how more important than other parts of the Ultimate world.

          • Kyle,

            You write: "You know, I'd rather not have to discuss the gender issues either honestly. It would be nice if article authors and editors would take a second to review articles with a lens toward this important issue and address it before it goes to print."

            But why stop there? Almost every person on this list is able-bodied and White. Shouldn't the authors have taken "a second" to review the articles with a "lens toward [those] important issue[s]", too? Maybe just scrap all the text covering all the cool things the people on this list have done and are doing, and replace it with an essay about social injustice.

            You write: "In an article like this .. if the author believed it to be an unbiased list he could state that this is a concerning problem for the Ultimate community."

            Is it so crazy to think that maybe the article titled "How Can We Facilitate Women Having Greater Influence in Ultimate" be a separate article from one titled "21 Influential People in Ultimate Today"?

            You write: "so many potential female leaders who are reluctant to have a larger role in the "public sphere of Ultimate" because of the tone of the conversation and how people who speak up about this issue are addressed."

            Really? Because I'm friends with a lot of smart, tough women Ultimate players. Some of them are leaders, some of them are (or have been) leaders in Ultimate. I speak freely with them about this sort of thing and believe me, even if I wanted to make them "reluctant to have a larger role", I would be unable to accomplish this.

            I also think it's important that we consider WHO we are really talking about and HOW they present their position when we refer to "people who speak up about this issue." For example, if Tina Booth had written a comment long the lines of "I appreciate seeing my name on this list, but I wish the list had included more women, and I wish that there were fewer obstacles to women gaining influence in Ultimate. Here are a few ways this could happen …. " then that would have been a very, very different situation. You gloss over the fact that I did not in fact write that nobody should point out gender inequity in Ultimate, I only wrote that I didn't like the way Carlos did it and I questioned whether he had earned the right to so pompously critique the authors, so your response here is a bit of a straw man argument.

            While you do not name me specifically, I infer you may be referring my comments when you write "And then sarcastic/unproductive/harsh comments follow."

            Hmmm. Kyle, I think you may be showing a little bias when you use the term "unproductive" here. Don't you just mean "I didn't like the content"? Isn't that a more objective measure than referring to level of productivity? Before writing this, did you "identify[] potential bias, doing research"? Or "did you follow any process to identify possible biases and adjust accordingly? From what people and sources did you draw this information?" See? See how freaking annoying that is?

            I'll give you "harsh", but Carlos was being harsh, too, just hiding behind women while doing it.

            "Sarcastic"? Well, now, yeah. But not in my original post. I think it was pretty direct.

            You write: "Balance it out. If balancing it doesn't work, give me a paragraph explaining why there is a lack of equity and what that means for the community. I mean, that's what an editor does right?"

            I'm not 100% sure what an editor does, but I don't think an editor's job includes "insert reference to all social problems which may effect the subject of the article."

            Anyway, thank you to Jeremy Ziskind and Skyd for writing and publishing this article. It's great to read about all the terrific things these people are doing for Ultimate.

        • You know, I'd rather not have to discuss the gender issues either honestly. It would be nice if article authors and editors would take a second to review articles with a lens toward this important issue and address it before it goes to print. In an article like this it could take one of a couple forms: (1) identifying potential bias, doing research and adding greater gender equity to compensate for bias or (2) Addressing (in the text of the article) the issue in a straightforward and respectful way. For example here if the author believed it to be an unbiased list he could state that this is a concerning problem for the Ultimate community.

          I think both probably need to happen. While I think there were omissions due to bias, I also know of so many potential female leaders who are reluctant to have a larger role in the "public sphere of Ultimate" because of the tone of the conversation and how people who speak up about this issue are addressed. The issue then reinforces itself when articles like this come out that both undervalue women's contributions to the sport and fail to address the lack of influence. And then sarcastic/unproductive/harsh comments follow.

          I know Skyd cares about the issue and I know I and many would appreciate it if they took their power as conversation starters and used it thoughtfully to move the issue forward. Elliot (or whoever was responsible for editing) could take the draft and say "Jeremy, great idea – love it but how does this read for women or internationally? Balance it out. If balancing it doesn't work, give me a paragraph explaining why there is a lack of equity and what that means for the community." I mean, that's what an editor does right?

  • Tim Morrill

    Great list and I am humbled to be included! Thanks Jeremy! Go Ultimate, Go Skyd! Cheers to chasing the human potential!

  • Also, I want to say that Michael Baccarini is a huge omission. While he's not on social media like most of these other people his influence on the game today is incredible if you look at the huge number of leaders throughout the community that have learned the game from him and communicate his vision and values.

    • Tim Morrill

      agreed, good call Kyle!

  • Jeremy

    Hi guys, Jeremy here. I really appreciate all the thoughtful replies to the list. First off, let me state my biases and subjectivity up front. I'm a male who plays pickup, league, and club ultimate (all Mixed) in the United States. I also played for a club national championship in Israel in 2008. I was born and raised in Seattle and have lived in Los Angeles off and on for the last 10 years.

    The purpose of this list was to spark a conversation about the most powerful and influential movers and shakers in the ultimate world. It's not even remotely the end all be all of people impacting our sport, but rather the people who are in the public eye doing really interesting things.

    It was, in fact, pointed out to me that maybe we should focus the list solely on organizers behind the scenes doing great things in their communities. I would love to write a list like that (an "unsung heroes" list), where we highlight the youth organizers in Seattle, camp directors in the Midwest, teachers in Colombia, and people who run clinics in the UK. But that's not what this particular list of 21 is about. This is about the people who we talk about, who are known almost everywhere, and yes, who write and who are written about.

    Yes, gender imbalance was a huge issue. I wanted to put more women on this list and went round and round trying to figure out more, but failed to in the end. Miranda Roth, DeAnna Ball, and Adriana Withers would have been worthy additions. Chalk this one up to lack of familiarity, not malicious intent.

    US-centrism is another valid point. I'm simply not as knowledgeable about local influencers in other countries. However, most of our readership is based in the US, and frankly there are few other countries that actively extend the global reach of our sport and grow its profile to the same extent. Many of the people on this list constantly fly around the world teaching clinics, playing in tournaments, and produce materials designed to be consumed globally. The sport was invented here, its players dominate internationally, and events that impact the sport here reverberate around the globe. This is why most of the list is based in the US.

    In the end, I'm glad that this list has sparked debate and prompted others to highlight all of the wonderful people slightly below the radar that work hard to promote and grow our sport.

    • Thanks for replying, Jeremy. While I realize I'm just reiterating a point that I and others have already made, I think the concern is that lists like this that don't do adequate research into specific demographics of influencers who are having a serious and widespread impact on the sport it marginalizes them, their work, and the demographic they come from.

      Saying "I saw the gender imbalance but couldn't figure out more women" and the sentiment that you feel the comments are giving adequate recognition to those not recognized in the article strikes me as lazy journalism. I agree it's not malicious but it's just negligent in your work.

      And if the article is just "let's talk more about people we already talk a lot about" what's the point?

      I hope this criticism doesn't come off as overboard. I've been critiqued in my writing and other Ultimate work as well and I've taken it to heart with positive improvements.


      • Jeremy

        Kyle, the point of the article is entertainment. There is no objective, holistic criteria for what makes someone influential, but public profile, magnitude of impact, and recent activities are three that I weighed pretty strongly. The fact that fewer women made this list could be chalked up to my personal bias or journalistic laziness, but it also means that we need more women to step into the public sphere and shape the direction of our sport in a way that reverberates globally. Being absent from this list doesn't mean you're uninfluential in the same way that not making Forbes' Top 100 People in Business list doesn't mean you're a terrible businessperson. It just means you're not on the list.

      • carlosdavis

        Thank you, Kyle and Jeremy, for continuing to drive this discussion. I asked my initial questions earnestly, and then have been in meetings all day without a chance to rejoin the thread.

        I've had a few ideas kicking around today.

        First, let's posit that the list is accurate. That is to say, men are 6 times more likely to have influence in the Ultimate community than women are. (I'm not sure that's an accurate statistical phrasing of the list: my apologies.) If so, the community should be addressing that inequity of influence and the discussion of that problem would be, to me, a more interesting and significant article than the list of influencers. (With no disrespect intended to those who contribute so much.)

        (Possible fodder: demographics of USAU board, Hall of Fame, Skyd & Ultiworld writers and editorial staff, World Games youth coaches; how certain groups [Five? VC?] have been successful in growing with diversity as a value…)

        Alternately, let's posit that the list is NOT accurate, that it is not representative of the demographics of influence in the Ultimate community. Kyle discusses this point well and I agree with him. Whether or not Skyd is intended as entertainment, it has a strong platform with its own influence. To disincentivize certain demographics from contributing by virtue of marginalizing their work is reprehensible. In other words, yadda yadda Spider-Man great blogging great responsibility.

        You want a stark example of how to disenfranchise a certain group by making them feeling invisible/nonexistent/anomalous/insignificant? An analysis of Silicon Valley/SF fashion, written by a woman, did not profile a single woman: http://readwrite.com/2014/05/02/soma-street-style

        • SMH

          Looking forward to this guy's column here that will weekly tackle all the ultimate community's issues of inequality and injustice comprehensively and with rigor.

          and yeah pun intended

          • knappy

            A fun article to read & good discussion in the comments. I do think that Kyle makes some interesting points, and I thought the same thing at first read: how does this list only have 3 women on it? But, after I thought about it some more, I do think that we are just attempting to shame the messenger here. The truth is that about 70% of USAU members are male (http://www.usaultimate.org/assets/1/Page/Member_Trends_2010update(web).pdf) . This is consistent in mixed leagues that I have run or participated in over the past 20+ years — usually a 2-1 m2f ratio in adult leagues, and thankfully many more women playing today than 20 years ago! Given those participation levels, the list should have been ~14 men & ~7 women. Next, you have to consider that men share a disproportionate role in leadership positions in the most prominent & visible ultimate orgs: USAU CEO, managing director, BOD pres are all male. MLU, AUDL, Skyd, Ultiworld, most Ultimate "vendors" — run by men. Even the 2 coaches in the womens' club final were men. If "influence" in ultimate is defined as a combination of name recognition, power to change, and visibility — it's difficult to argue with the majority of the 21 names on this list. Would my list have been different than Jeremy's? absolutely. But the deeper issue, which Kyle states more eloquently than I can, is that the gender inequity in power positions in ultimate is a reality & something we need to work on as a community. Many great Skyd/ultiworld/blog articles have discussed the issue and I am confident that we can make things better. But, this was supposed to an entertaining article — not sure Jeremy was trying to do anything deeper than name 21 people who he thinks are influential in (US) Ultimate and start the conversation about who else should be on the list. (An aside –I think an omission, especially since this is qualified as influential in the past year, is a player like Opi, who was a dynamic player on the national champs & worlds team, as well as one of the new "faces of ultimate" — it seems like she was the most photographed player in all of ultimate last year! Plus, Beast Coast is best coast.)

          • Alex

            Opi is a fantastic player, but… influential for being most photographed???

          • knappy

            First of all, that was a secondary observation and you oversimplified what I wrote — you must have missed the part where I wrote "dynamic player on the national champs & worlds team." But, to answer your question, yes –visibility counts when it comes to influence. I understand that is not the #1 thing she brings to the table — skillset, leadership, athleticism are just a few that come to mind. Beau is on this list primarily because he is the reigning "greatest player in the game" — I am picking Opi for the elite women's counterpart. Whether that name should be Cara, Alex, Surge, etc, players who are more knowledgeable than me can make that call. (I realize Gwen is a top player, too, but she is on this list for her other amazing contributions & current influence on USAU direction.)

    • Alia

      I think it's an awesome starting point! And sometimes we as a community are apathetic about cheering on the unsung heros. You have spurned folks on to do just that, so thank you! : )

    • heads up

      Here you go, then: Mike will help you out. http://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/21-… . A follow-up piece might be nice.

  • Vinny

    Kevin Leclaire?

  • Dan Curme

    I've been involved with Ultimate Peace for 5 years and Mario O'Brien hasn't done anything with the organization that I'm aware of. Thanks for including Barkan, though.

  • Ben

    I think Henry Thorne should be somewhere on this list. That man has single-handedly done more to grow the Ultimate community in Pittsburgh than any one I know. Not only is he father of one Callahan finalist, and one future Callahan nominee (both 2 time college champs), but he has donated incredible amounts of money to the community, and personally sponsored many players to go to YCC's to get them to fall in love with the game. He is an incredible philanthropist, and amazingly nice and outgoing.

    • Jim

      I've never met the guy and have no exposure to Pittsburgh area ultimate, but I've really appreciated his candid voice in these and other comment sections, often providing unparalleled insight from inside usau on their reasoning concerning some difficult issues. While I may not agree with everyone of his opinions, his election to the board and subsequent interaction with the public has been refreshing and noteworthy.

    • Guest

      Max is going to get the callahan nomination over Trent Dillon? Unlikely.

      • 5thYearsAThing

        They can both be nominated. Also Trent may have the big name but you're blind if you think Trent is better.

  • Guest

    Who is Jeremy Ziskind?

    • Jeremy

      Not all that influential, that's for sure ;)

  • How can Mike Payne not be on this list?

  • Will Deaver far more involved with Callahan Rules (predecessor of 10th Edition rules and modern Observer system and featured the idea of the Callahan Goal) than the Callahan Award.

    But over the last 15+ years he's had his fingers in almost everything good that's happened with ultimate.

  • Ken

    Great article, excellent list, though agree with the comments that there should be more women, and that it underweights international contributions. That said, I'm especially glad to see Charlie recognized – I don't know how he does all that he does (even with his great crew). Ultiworld is now indispensable – and Skyd is the perfect complement.

  • Maddy

    I was really surprised to not see Miranda (Roth) knowles on this list.

  • Guest

    Miranda Knowles! Awsm coach

  • @Biased: Yes, there is an imbalenced in the male-female-ratio. But this is naturally, because there are more male than female players. And the maybe the most influcing people are men. A analysis and reason finding is a very good idea, but not on this list. This is a list, not a insight about gender ratio. But this list could be a milestone on the way to an article about equalitity on lists.

    @USA-centralized: Sure it is USA focused. Because all european players read the USA stuff. We invite coaches and players from sockeye and riseup to europe to learn from them. But it is not the other way round. Maybe there is nothing a USA player can learn from european teams or maybe there are just not interessted or have enough resources in the USA.

    @what about XXX: This is just a simple, subjective list. Thats why the author call on the commentators to add names to the list. It is not the "21 MOST influantial people". That means, that there may be some (female?) people who are more influantial as the names on the list. The list is just persons, the author looks up to or uses as an inspiration. My list would be totally different ;)

    @Who to add from Europe?
    I would love to add the following persons to the list, if I had a choose people who have a influence on the usa readers.
    – Johan Bommerez aka Bommie: Founder and author of Get Horizontal. The No1 Ultimate newssite about european ultimate.
    – Benji Heywood: Writing about statistics and economics in Ultimate in his blog http://understandingultimate.wordpress.com/
    – Bloggers in India: A bunch of people who bring in ideas and insights of development of Ultimate in India http://www.indiaultimate.org/
    – Andrea Furlan: President of EUF

    @What could help yourself?
    It is just a idea, but maybe it could be helpfull for a player to think about what persons around you influence you by doing what ;)

    Just my 2 cents,

    • benheywood

      Thanks awfully, as we British should say in these circumstances – but I certainly don't belong in this company. On the other hand, I think Rueben Berg, as the chair of the WFDF taskforce on officiation, ought to be considered pretty influential…

  • Heather Ann Brauer is another woman to consider. She has coached and organized youth ultimate for years in Seattle and North Carolina, with a special focus on girls' development. She was influential in the recent rapid growth of the youth scene in NC – including the girls' program Take the Field, which was modeled after Seattle's AGE UP (whose female and male leaders – Lisa Niemann, Hana Kawai, Sam Terry, and the many coaches from UW, Riot, and Underground – were mentioned above in Frank's comment and also deserve recognition). She was/is USAU Regional Youth Regional Director for the South, and she is currently leading the national Girls Ultimate Movement task force with Mike Lovinguth and Zara Cadoux. She was recently hired as head coach for DiscNW's YCC U16 girls' team

    Shannon O'Malley is running two giant school programs in Seattle with a total of 9 youth teams and is coordinating them with the utmost level of professionalism. She was the youngest player ever accepted to Seattle Riot and is still a major contributor today. She is an influential coach of kids ranging from 3rd graders at DiscNW's summer camps to middle schoolers in her two school programs, to girls in AGE-UP to Seattle's
    high school elite on the DiscNW girls' U19 YCC team and the Seattle Fryz club team. She works tirelessly, using her connections, to partner interested coaches with school programs needing support. She coordinates summer youth camps for her school programs and helped Riot run a new club elementary club league in Seattle last summer. She volunteers for task forces where she can between all of these other responsibilities, including DiscNW's youth club task force and the national GUM task force I mentioned above.

    These are just a couple who come to mind first thing in the morning but I'm sure there are others. Gotta get to work!

  • rjmcleod

    Two huge names missing from this list…Kevin Leclaire with UltiPhotos and Melissa Witmer with Ultimate Results/Melissa's Ultimate Fitness.

    I think a better approach for a an article of this importance would have been to make a list with collaboration from multiple ultimate players/organizers from around the world.

    Otherwise, you should have titled the post "21 Influential People in USA Ultimate Today" and left Patrick's name off the list.

    ~Ultimate Rob

  • Commish55

    Mike Adlis? Founder of W2BU or better known as Wildwood Beach Ultimate, the largest beach ultimate tournament in the world. Every year getting over 450+ teams from all over the states and some from different countries around the world

  • non-American Player

    Interesting list, a more accurate title might have been something along the lines of '20 Influential Americans in Ultimate, and the Beach Guy'

  • Clify42

    Thank goodness there are so many to willing to stand up for the inherent, obvious gender inequity issues that exist in ultimate today. Hopefully someday the discriminated can play in an ultimate world where we have true gender equality and they can feel the appreciation they deserve.

  • guest

    Does anyone else notice that there are very few, or no people of colour on this list, depending how you look at it? I believe there are two Asian-Americans but the rest of the group seems to be Caucasian. It's not so much a question of the merits of this list but a question of the make-up of the ultimate community and why there is not more racial diversity at the top. Just something to consider as we progress the sport.

    • Joaqman

      And to think, people ask why DTB exists.

  • Pig Ultimate

    I really like giving these individuals the recognition they are do. It would be a bit more work, but I think it would be interesting to come up with a list of 21 people you've never heard of who toil away to promote the sport. In many cases, these people have spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of their own dollars. I think of people like Dale Wilker who bought land in the in middle of Ohio to create a tournament that has become a destination event for people around the world. Now Dale has taken his talents to organizing USAU championship events (college/club sectionals, college/club regionals, college nationals, HS easterns and centrals, Masters/grandmasters). Dale puts in more time to pull off quality ultimate events than anyone I know and yet only a handful of people know who he is.

    Or how about the individuals who designed and run the USAU Observer program. How many of you could name those individuals? But has anyone had a bigger influence on the way the game is played or on the professionalism and presentation of ultimate events? You may love observers or hate them, but I don't think anyone can argue that they haven't had a huge affect on the game.