For ultimate players of all ambitions and skills, the onset of cold weather (except you, Southern California) means indoor ultimate season. The chance to mix up play in at indoor hat tournaments, leagues, and overnight tournaments is a welcome change of pace for many players, swapping full fields and carefully managed outdoor play for high-octane, highlight reel prone indoor games.
Now indoor ultimate is stepping up to the next level. A tournament organizing group named Southwest Ultimate has announced The Indoor Ultimate Championships (IUC) will take place nationwide starting in March, including a hefty prize for the top finishing teams.
To be clear up front, this is not another professional league. Whew.
Southwest Ultimate sells the IUC as a nationwide championship series that next year will follow the USAU model of sectionals, regionals and nationals – but takes the game inside. This years series will be a two tiered event of qualifying tournaments(Regionals) and Nationals. Regionals will take place in March, with the 24 team National Championships taking place in late April.
According to tournament organizer and Southwest Ultimate founder Trent Simmons, the IUC will be a co-ed series open to all players, with prizes of anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000 for top finalists.
“The concept was inspired by a friend of mine who recently participated in the Indoor Championship Series in the UK. As soon as I heard about that, I thought ‘why don’t we have that here?’,” said Simmons.
Originally, Simmons planned for the series to be limited mostly to the northeast, but as he talked to more people, interest grew. So he kept conversations going across the country and soon felt the IUC could be run coast-to-coast. He said he plans to hire as many as 8 regional coordinators, all earning somewhere around $50 per team in their tournament. Simmons said the tournament fee will likely be around $25 per player, but may vary depending on venue costs.
Initial prize money will be awarded out of entrance fees all teams will pay and hopefully supplemented by corporate sponsorship. And at the nationals tournament level, tickets will be sold for spectators.
The IUC is open to any and all players and is not associated with USAU, so no additional membership fees will be required, Simmons added.
If this seems rushed, that’s because it is, Simmons said; the conversation with his friend in Scotland took place less than two months ago. But he said simplicity is the key and he has some experience in this arena – Southwest Ultimate ran 60 tournaments in the last four years, mostly in Colorado. And he has faith that it can come together quickly to be a high-level and fun series open to all players.
“We made the decision to go with co-ed rather than men’s because again this is about being a big tent where we don’t exclude anybody because of their gender or playing experience,” said Simmons in an email exchange. “With that said, we do expect Nationals to be at a very high level of play, possibly even higher than outdoor mixed nationals because players from top men’s and women’s teams will be participating.”
The IUC has a website up, but still under development at this point: http://iuc.usetopscore.com/. Follow-up questions or interest in working as a volunteer regional coordinator can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo by Attention Deficit Photography