No matter the feeling you have for the current Club Championship schedule, the fact remains that ultimate is quickly transforming. The pressure of a sudden interest from mainstream sports media may be to blame. With the ever increasing number of highlights and exposition of the sport seeping into the mainstream, the demand for a way to fit into the mainstream mold remains ever present in the minds of those in a position to direct the future of ultimate. Such a high and expansive ceiling for the sport of ultimate allows for many different ideas for the future. Like the club championship schedule, some progressions have been controversial, and some are more practical. Team Tree from Aero Ultimate is one such program that plans to embrace the fast-growing sport’s mainstream success. Team Tree is the first brand of Aero Ultimate’s Ultimate Acceleration Campaign.
The current state of ultimate’s development has been compared to that of soccer in this country about 20 years ago. Since then, soccer has steadily grown in participation and fandom into a sport now competitive on the national and international stage. Programs such as AYSO have been a large part of that success by building a firm youth base for the sport. In fact, the countries seeing the most success on the world soccer stage have used youth development as a tool for success for many years (see: Lionel Messi). Ultimate would do well to follow this same system, and that’s exactly what Team Tree offers: a three tier development and information system which lends itself to ultimate youth, but can be applied to any age group attempting to begin the process of starting an ultimate team.
Three Tier System
Aero Ultimate plans to prepare start-up ultimate teams and clubs with a three tier system of increasing guidance and involvement.
“The biggest thing we want to let everyone know is that Aero Ultimate is positioning opportunities for those who want to help the sport grow in a positive way but are not sure how to on their own,” said General Manager Ken Kaminski. “We would like to inspire [leaders] to invest time into the growth and meaning of the sport,” he said.
The first product offered to do just that, known as the “startup guide,” is a text (or PDF) document of refined and proven concepts to help team leaders drum up ideas on how to initially attract and then further engage interested parties. As it is only the first of three steps, the concepts are general, broad, and can be applied to a number of different schools, clubs, or other situations that would bring about a new ultimate team. Team Tree’s Program Guide smartly warns, however, that while the concepts can be applied to nearly any new team, every situation is different. This is where the second step comes in: Mentoring Service. A text document can be somewhat confusing to someone who has never lead an ultimate team, so Team Tree’s Mentoring Service provides a person-to-person dialogue to begin between the new team leader and Team Tree’s experienced mentors. With modern technology, the Team Tree mentors need not be in the same state or city, providing guidance and answering questions via video chat, phone, or email. Additionally, the Mentoring Service can provide new teams with schedules and check-in points tailored specifically to each team’s individual situation. Because of this Team Tree suggests new ultimate team leaders utilize tiers one and two concurrently for the best results. Obviously, Team Tree also suggests using their third tier of the system concurrently with the first two, but the third tier does not posses as close a symbiotic relationship as the first two tiers. Tier Three engages new teams and team leaders into the large ultimate disc social media network. Local mentors and leaders can be found through this expansive social media network, as well as advice from those at a distance using the aforementioned video chat, email, or phone references provided from the network.
While the cost of the services provided by the Ultimate Acceleration Campaign are yet to be released, Team Tree has a very clear vision of the future of the program.
“Our new website is currently under construction and we hope to release by mid October,” Kaminski said.
From the website, the Program Guide provides a step-by-step, year-by-year breakdown of Team Tree’s future vision. While Team Tree plans to start small, with only 2-4 mentors by the year 2017, the program administrators hope to have a network of “250 teams by 2025.” Team Tree envisions the first 2-4 mentors would provide guidance for 10-20 teams (approx. 5 teams per mentor), then in turn those 10-20 teams would provide guidance to 50-100 more teams, etc. until the network of 250 team mentors is established. If you wish to be one of the first 2-4 mentors working with the Ultimate Acceleration Campaign, or are thinking about being one of the first 10-20 teams being mentored, take the brief survey on their website. You can also request a college startup guide if you already know you want Team Tree’s help in developing ultimate in your community. It’s time to get in on the ground floor of the most dynamic, fastest growing sport in the country. Don’t let your college, club, or community get left out in the cold.
Feature photo by Christina Schmidt – UltiPhotos.com