by | September 20, 2016, 12:09pm 0

Hello again ultimate family,

Four years ago we announced RISE UP right here on Skyd. It’s been a wild and challenging, yet extremely rewarding process. I’ve learned a ton from coaches, players and leaders around the world. Together, they helped guide me to develop something that I’m proud to announce today: ULTACADEMY.

I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA tomorrow to answer questions about everything from playing to leading, coaching, traveling, ULTACADEMY, RISE UP, Beach Worlds, Sockeye, AUDL, Chasing Sarasota, gender equity, and everything in between.

The community’s needs

We launched RISE UP in 2012, and since then I’ve traveled the world running clinics and sharing RISE UP videos. In 2013 at our first major event, RISE UP Amsterdam, we ran our first coaching clinic, and I honed in on the leadership needs of our community. The questions people asked were revealing:

How do I motivate players?
How do I plan my season?
What are the ‘little things’ that good teams do?
How do I create team culture?
How do I get my team to peak for the end of my season?

I had guessed that people might want these skills, but I didn’t realize how scarce people with these skills were in the ultimate community. I took for granted that I had access to people and resources to help me develop as a leader.  I sometimes forgot that I was professionally trained as a teacher and I had expert peers and friends (Wiggins, Lovseth, Kinley, etc.) to work with and learn from.

Amsterdam was a great first step towards understanding what people needed, and it gave me ideas for future RISE UP videos. But somehow, in my head, videos about these leadership topics felt different than videos teaching ultimate skills and drills. Videos just don’t capture the personal touch of learning to lead or working with people. I let the idea marinate while I talked to captains and coaches from other communities.

Around the world

During my first major RISE UP tour in 2014 I talked with players and leaders in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia and encountered more of the same questions.


How do I design my own drills and plan practices?
How do I get players to commit and buy-in?
How do I connect a series of practices together?
How do I teach spirit of the game?

I heard more of those same questions later that year in Korea. And then at the Ultimate Canada Conference. And then in Colombia. Then the next year in Singapore. And again in Dubai.

Each trip, each clinic, each passionate conversation with a captain affirmed an idea that had been slowly crystallizing. I realized something really important about the ultimate community: ultimate skills training was not enough.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of RISE UP videos. I love making them, more on the way (S9 and S10 coming soon!). I’m extremely proud of the clinics we’ve put on, the confidence and collaboration we’ve enabled, the growth we’ve seen. But leaders always wanted to talk about building something that lasts, something bigger… much more than just throwing sweeter hucks or running better handler offense.

Ultimate leaders wanted to help their teams noticeably improve, turn their teams into programs, their hard work into something that would exist and thrive with or without them. People felt alone, isolated, and without guidance.

That feeling is tough to solve with videos, tough to remedy with quick tips.

We’ve all been there. Many of us are still there.

If you’ve ever been a captain or a coach, you know how challenging it can be. There are so many things to think about…so many variables, obstacles, questions to ask and answer, players to motivate and develop, seasons and practices to plan, rookies to recruit, team culture to create, huddle speeches to give, logistics to manage, ugh… so much.

I’ve been there too. I remember my first leadership experiences back in college and early in my club career. I never knew where to start, or if I was on track, or if we were getting better or getting lucky.

It took traveling and meeting coaches everywhere to realize that we’ve all been there… and most of us are still there. Everyone wants their team to level-up, but most leaders don’t have the people or resources they need in order improve.

Fact: Our sport is so young (just over 40) that almost no one has ever been explicitly trained to coach or lead in our sport. We’ve all just been trying our best with what we had and calling that good enough… because there was no one who could help, no training program to help us get there.

I thought: “I have the skill set and experience to meet this need.”


Let’s do this

The ultimate community has given so much opportunity to me. I want us to have trained leaders so we can make a stronger, better community, not just a bigger one.

I can help with this. We can change this. Let’s do this.

I’ve spent the past 4 years doing ultimate full time, running RISE UP, making videos, developing curriculum, running clinics, coaching locally and around the world.

The hundreds of coaches I’ve talked to and the thousands of players I worked with have told me the same things:

  • We need leadership training in the context of our season.
  • We want professional guidance.
  • We need skills and resources.
  • We like to learn with and from our peers.

The community needs an Ultimate Leadership Training Academy…. an ULTACADEMY. Whoa. Sweet!

Okay, so what is ULTACADEMY? We think it’s the next big step in RISE UP’s journey towards excellence in ultimate leadership.

ULTACADEMY is a season-long, step-by-step course for ultimate team leaders (i.e coaches and captains).  It’s going to be built and iterated as your season unfolds, based on what you need during each phase of the season. Overall you’ll get…

  • A season-long leadership course
  • Professional guidance
  • Leadership training and resources
  • A collaborative community of peer leaders
  • RISE UP all-access pass
  • Five Ultimate discount on team apparel + Practice Discs
  • 1 pair of Friction gloves + team order discount

The hard Xs and Os of strategy, tactics, and technique are one thing, but the soft-skills of planning, goal setting, assessing, and empowering people are another. ULTACADEMY will give you the balance of both, along with professional guidance and a group of other leaders to share your problems and successes with.

Registration opened yesterday, and our super-early-bird spots were swooped up quick. There are limited spots, so don’t miss this opportunity.

Click here to sign up today.

Questions? Shoot them to me in my Reddit AMA, hit me at, or check out this video FAQ.

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