USA Ultimate Announces Changes to Open Masters Division
Posted: October 24, 2012 01:14 PM
USA ULTIMATE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO OPEN MASTERS DIVISION
Summer Season, New Championship Event Provide More Benefits to Masters Athletes
Sarasota, Fla. (October 24, 2012)—USA Ultimate announced today a shift in its Men’s Masters Division, moving its competitive season to the summer and aligning it with the Women’s and Grand Masters Divisions.
The implemented changes result in several benefits for Masters players, including expanding the field of teams at the Masters Championships from 12 to 16 and specifically tailoring a competitive season and championship event to its Men’s, Women’s and Grand Masters athletes. It will also afford Masters-eligible athletes a new opportunity to compete in both the Masters Championship Series in the early summer and the Men’s, Women’s, or Mixed Division’s season.
To facilitate this change, USA Ultimate gathered feedback from members directly invested in the Masters Division via surveys, conference calls and focus groups. The analysis of that feedback, along with various other factors specific to USA Ultimate’s Strategic Plan, resulted in several revisions and improvements.
A brief outline summarizing the changes and benefits for Masters players follows:
- Three-month Masters Division-specific season (May-July)
- Pre-Masters Championships Series event opportunities in May and early June (including existing Club division "pre-season" tournaments)
- Regional Playoffs in late June or Early July
- National Championship in late July
- Opportunity for Masters and Club Men’s/Women’s/Mixed players to "double dip" by having seasons that are not concurrent
- Masters players can join Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Club teams in the late summer and fall after playing in the Masters Championship Series
- Masters teams can participate in the Club Division’s Postseason Championship Series to further extend their season
- Age-eligible Club Division players can form and/or join Masters teams in early summer and bolster participation in the division.
- Likely and potential influx of younger Masters players will encourage some Masters players to compete in the Grand Masters Division – bolstering participation in that division
- Supports participation in Masters Women’s event by age-eligible women who also participate in the Mixed and Women’s Divisions.
- Unites men and women for one major Masters Division Championship tournament
- Competitive structure and events that are tailored specifically to older players and teams at a time of year that doesn’t conflict with other important opportunities designed to develop the sport of Ultimate.
- Frees up the fall season for older male and female players to remain involved in Ultimate in other ways:
- Club season participants
- Club coaching opportunities
- Club observing opportunities
- Fall youth/college team development
As the sport of Ultimate continues to grow in the United States, the age-limited divisions for older players have presented some interesting challenges, necessitating these changes to stimulate growth and help showcase the sport of Ultimate in general. Some of these challenges include little to no increase in the number of Masters Open teams throughout the last 10 years, competitive conflicts between Masters and Club divisions, greater demand to participate in the Grand Masters Division, and sporadic participation from Masters Women’s teams. Additionally, the location, size and format of USA Ultimate’s Club Championships, which has traditionally included the Masters Open Division, has limited the ability to showcase top-level Club teams in the other three divisions.
USA Ultimate will continue to seek additional input from Masters and Grand Masters players before final details are determined for the 2013 season. Elements of the competition structure, including geographic boundaries, qualification criteria, and roster eligibility will be discussed, determined, and communicated in the coming months.