USA Ultimate to Launch Youth Club Regional Championships in 2017
Posted: March 3, 2016 12:21 PM
Regional Club Championships to Replace High School Regional Tournaments
Colorado Springs, Colo. (March 3, 2016)—As part of a strategic initiative to increase quality playing opportunities and continue to facilitate growth at the youth level, USA Ultimate revealed today plans to launch multiple club-based youth regional championship events in 2017.
As a result, USA Ultimate will discontinue its high school-based regional championship tournaments and instead continue to develop and invest in high school state championships as the top level of school-based competition in the United States. Generally, because high school schedules vary significantly from state to state, showcasing state championships as the culmination of the school-based season allows for more locally appropriate planning. Currently, USA Ultimate has state-based high school activity in 33 states.
Although details are still being finalized, the new youth club regional tournaments are expected to take place in late June or early July, primarily to avoid conflict with the high school season.
Over the last two years, USA Ultimate’s youth club task force and competition working group have examined the state of youth ultimate and various models of different youth sports while considering alternative and innovative competition structures. USA Ultimate also reviewed an extensive amount of feedback from an initial proposal that was presented to the youth ultimate community last year. This recent activity comes after a decade of long-term planning and consideration to eventually incorporate such a shift.
Following comprehensive analysis, USA Ultimate believes club-based play at the regional and national levels, and school-based competition at the state level, is a preferable model for a variety of reasons. Club-based teams are often more willing and able to travel due to a higher level of commitment inherent to youth club athletes. A youth club structure also offers fewer restrictions than a school-based one and fulfills a persistent desire for greater competition. It is also believed that increased accessibility afforded by club play at a regional level will better stimulate growth at the local level. Finally, club play allows for a more streamlined path for youth development that is unconstrained by the age and geographical limitations typical to a school-based structure. As club structures are already becoming integrated into the fabric of local ultimate organizations, these increased playing opportunities will continue to help fuel local development.
As USA Ultimate gathered information and collected feedback from youth team and event organizers, there was some initial concern that such a change would negatively impact high school participation. However, after continued dialogue with key members of the community, virtually no local organizer believed the lack of a high school regional tournament would discourage athletes from playing for their high school team and a state title.
Currently, USA Ultimate requires states to host an official state championship tournament to be eligible to send teams to high school regional championships. This measure, which has proven to be effective at accelerating the development of state-level high school play around the country, will be integrated into the new club-based structure.
The continued growth of USA Ultimate’s Youth Club Championships serves as a definitive indicator that there is an increasingly significant demand for more high-level, club-based youth playing opportunities. Mirroring the task force’s recommendation, USA Ultimate believes the establishment of youth club regional championships is a critical step towards the future success of youth ultimate.
While details are still being confirmed, it is expected that high school-based teams will be eligible to participate in a club-based regional tournament with more flexibility and fewer roster restrictions. Regionals may eventually serve as qualifiers for particular tiers of competition divisions at the annual Youth Club Championships as continued growth occurs and certain divisions become large enough to necessitate qualification procedures.
USA Ultimate will release more information as it becomes available. The next steps are to evaluate the geographic scope of club regional events and determine the appropriate number of tournaments alongside current youth leaders in the community.
ABOUT USA ULTIMATE
USA Ultimate is the national governing body for the sport of ultimate (Frisbee) in the United States and proud member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Ultimate is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is the largest flying disc organization in the world with more than 53,000 members, including athletes, coaches and observers.
Governed by a core principle called Spirit of the Game™, ultimate remains proud of its historical and continuing practice of being a self-officiated sport – even at the highest levels of competition – which places a unique emphasis on sportsmanship, respect for one’s opponent, conflict resolution, self-confidence, communication and integrity.
USA Ultimate currently administers the full spectrum of ultimate in the United States and owns and operates 11 major championship events across all ages and abilities, including youth, high school, college, elite and masters divisions, as well as the Triple Crown Tour – ultimate’s premier elite competitive league for men’s, women’s and mixed gender divisions. USA Ultimate is a member of the IOC-recognized World Flying Disc Federation and also selects, trains and supports U.S. National Teams for international events.
Recently cited as one of the fastest-growing team sports in America by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) with more than 7 million players worldwide, ultimate was invented in 1968 by students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J.
For more information, contact USA Ultimate Director of Marketing & Communications, Andy Lee at 719-219-8323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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