2011 USAU Board Candidate Statements

Posted: August 19, 2010 03:43 PM

2011 USA Ultimate Board of Directors Candidates

At-Large Northeast Northwest
Sam Dinning
Stephen Hubbard
Colin McIntyre
Josh Seamon
Mandy Eckhoff
Jeremy McNamara

Frank Flores
Ann Huang
Mike Payne



Sam Dinning
Washington, DC

Audio Interview with Sam Dinning

As our sport continues to grow, USA Ultimate is faced with new challenges in meeting the demands of an increasingly diverse membership. In restructuring the College Series, improving elite competition, strengthening youth programs, and reaching out to potential new players, the Board must be mindful of the fact that the growth of the sport depends on the development and consideration of all levels of play.

In order to fully appreciate this broad spectrum of concerns, the Board must have representatives that have engaged many of these issues. I graduated from Bowdoin College in 2009, where I captained our relatively small but regionally competitive team. Currently, I coach at the high school level in a very young program. And, of course, I continue to play, both for casual pick-up teams and for a new club team that is fighting for a bid to Nationals. This combination of experiences gives me a perspective that I believe is necessary as the Board undertakes a wide variety of projects.

USA Ultimate has the opportunity to improve the playing experience for members at all levels, which I believe we can accomplish by prioritizing the following work:

College Development – The growth of college ultimate involves two equally important aspects: modifying existing structures of competition, and providing support for new and mid-level teams. This dual approach can help bring college ultimate to the highest possible level while not forgetting that our sport can only continue to grow with the strengthening of the college game.

Local Leagues – The vast majority of ultimate players didn’t learn the game with Nationals in mind, but rather grew as they played in their own cities and towns. By channeling initiatives through local leagues, USA Ultimate can ensure greater representation of league interests and can help improve the quality of play at the local level.

Club Series – As USA Ultimate embarks on the restructuring of the Club Series, several goals should guide the decision-making process: maximizing top-tier play, increasing the parity of competition, and improving the overall quality of tournaments. These issues have been a source of frustration for many players over the years, and the reevaluation process provides a great chance to finally address them fully.

Communication – It is often easy for those who devote countless hours to ultimate to understand the nuances of play and process, but this does not always translate throughout the game. By improving the channels through which we reach out to players, USA Ultimate can help broaden engagement with and understanding of the sport.

In each of these areas there are clear opportunities to improve the ultimate experience for all USA Ultimate members, regardless of where they play the game. Having played for and led teams in Boston; Washington, DC; Portland, Maine; and Cape Town, South Africa, I have engaged with issues facing a huge variety of ultimate players. I hope to bring these lessons and perspectives to the Board of Directors to help ensure that the changes made in the coming years enhance the game for all involved.

Stephen Hubbard
San Diego, CA

Audio Interview with Stephen Hubbard

Hello Ultimate Community,
I have been playing, watching, writing about, coaching, observing, thinking about and loving this sport since high school. Even though I adore Ultimate, I think there are many things that could be better. 
I believe that a culture of professionalism and well designed presentation of our sport is very important not only for marketing Ultimate to outsiders, but also for increasing fun for the people involved. I will push for the allocation of resources to provide for large scoreboards, painted field lines, and well trained Observer crews for every single game at tournaments. Additionally, I support the effort to hold the finals of high level events inside a stadium of some sort. Sarasota is a great place for most of our Club National Championships, but it does not facilitate large amounts of non-playing spectators for the finals. A large part of what made the Andrew Fleming ESPN catch so amazing and popular to the outside world was that the clip showed a packed stadium. 
One of my biggest complaints with how Ultimate is played today from Summer league to the highest level club tournaments is the poor rules knowledge of most players. We play a self-refereed sport for crying out loud! If a referee from some other sport didn’t know his sport’s rules, it would be major problem but we seem to accept it. When every player knows the rules well games are more fast-paced (“foul-contest’s” last 5 seconds instead of minutes), more fair, and more fun. I would look to mandate a rules test for the teams playing in college and club regional’s. Also, I would urge the Standing Rules Committee to do some serious rewording in order to make the 12th Edition more intuitive and in line with how players actually think about the rules as well as publish Official USAU Rules Interpretation (both written and video demonstration) so players have more common ground to stand on when applying the rules.
At its core, Spirit of the Game has a simple definition: mutual respect between opponents and respect for the game - Sportsmanship. To think Spirit of the Game is much, much more than this is to lose focus of what is important. SOTG can sometimes be a internal struggle when games are close, but we all have been part of games that are intense but played with the utmost sportsmanship. On the other hand, we all have also been part of games with “spirited” players that turn unsportsmanlike when they the soft-cap horn blows. It must be the role of the USAU to work to create the right tournament framework and a culture of mutual respect so strong that we can play with fiery competitiveness to the limits of our abilities while also maintaining the sportsmanship that makes playing sports so worthwhile - this will be my guiding principle if I am elected to the USA Ultimate Board of Directors. 
Thank you for reading, I hope to earn your vote.  If you’d like to learn more about me and some of my thoughts about Ultimate, check out my Facebook group, “Stephen “Pumba” Hubbard for USA Ultimate Board of Directors”.

Colin McIntyre
Ann Arbor, MI

Audio Interview with Colin McIntyre

My involvement with the UPA has been extensive in recent years.  I have served on the Standing Rules Committee for three and a half years, receiving an invitation to join after actively participating in discussions regarding the revisions that went into 11th edition.  Since becoming certified in February 2008, I have observed four UPA Championships (College and Club), in addition to a number of experimental events.  I also participated in the Observer Manual revision meeting earlier this year and was the lead author of a rules application video project for future use by players and observers alike.

I began playing Ultimate in 2001 and have played at all levels including leagues, a college B-team, a mid-Region Club team, and College and Club teams that qualified for the UPA Championships.  I also coached the University of Michigan men’s team this year.  I have served as Sectional Coordinator in the past and have organized and helped organize a number of additional tournaments.  Through my time spent playing, coaching, observing, and organizing Ultimate, I’ve become aware of a number of issues I’d like to see addressed by USA Ultimate.  

In my capacity as an active UPA member, I submitted several proposals for consideration by the UPA Board and Staff to help address issues of player safety, member representation in the rules revision process, fairness in eligibility rules, and adequate notice and responsible implementation of new rules and regulations for the Series, among other issues.  I hope to become a member of the Board so that I can more effectively continue my efforts to promote responsible, but timely, improvements to the sport and to the organization.  In my professional life, I am a recently licensed attorney; I believe my skill set from that arena could transfer well to participation on the Board.

As a candidate for the Board, my top priority is to improve the flow of ideas from the membership to the organization.  The energy and creativity of the membership are assets that were not fully utilized by the UPA.  I am very pleased with USA Ultimate’s efforts to reach out in new ways to the membership with initiatives like the recently released Webcast.  If elected, I will support additional efforts in this same vein and I pledge to open new avenues for interchange between the membership and the leadership of USA Ultimate.  

In terms of other issues, a few other priorities of mine include promoting improved rules knowledge among players, expanding the Observer Program, and establishing a USA Ultimate policy encouraging tournament organizers to space playing fields safely.  As the election draws closer, I hope to take advantage of any additional opportunities to flesh out my views on these issues.

Josh Seamon
St. Johnsbury, VT

Audio Interview with Josh Seamon

My favorite memory of Ultimate occurred on July 20th, 2009. At about 10pm on that excruciatingly hot and humid night in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, I lugged 30 pounds of Team USA’s laundry to a waiting taxi that took me to a nearby laundromat. For two hours, I washed, dried, folded, and waited, surrounded by the neon surrealism of Kaohsiung’s streets. For most of the duration I was accompanied by USA Ultimate’s Meredith Tosta, who joined me on the curb for a discussion spanning life, the universe, and everything.

That night is the highlight of my Ultimate career because it represents the pinnacle and diverse range of ways I have been allowed to serve Ultimate in the United States. It is that broad-ranging service to the greater good of Ultimate that I cherish above all else and makes me a strong candidate for reelection to USA Ultimate’s Board of Directors. 

I found myself on that curb in Taiwan because I have been lucky enough to lead an incredibly enriching life inside the world of Ultimate. After playing high school Ultimate in Amherst, MA, and college Ultimate in Claremont, CA, I headed back east to start teaching high school math in St. Johnsbury, VT and begin my career playing club mixed Ultimate. This summer marks my 18th year playing Ultimate.

Over the past seven years I have learned how to get things done inside the world of Ultimate. In three years I built a varsity Ultimate program, founded the VT HS Ultimate League, VT State Champs, and St. Johnsbury Academy Invitational, which has grown into the largest HS Ultimate tournament on the east coast. As a USA Ultimate Coaching Instructor, I have run more clinics and certified more coaches than anyone else. In 2008 I was elected as an at-large member to USA Ultimate’s Board of Directors. I have served on the Nominating Committee, where I was instrumental in expanding the Board election process and on the Executive Committee, where I hold the position of Secretary. In addition to chairing the World Game Committee, which oversaw all aspects of Team USA’s development, I worked as one of Team USA’s managers, coordinating local logistics and live blogging event coverage (http://bit.ly/worlds2009).

I have extensive experience in web portal development and technology management, as well as a passion for policy work. In all aspects of my life, I am direct and not afraid to state, and stand by, my opinions, as evident by my active presence on the USAU forums. Also, I am proud of my ability to analyze and work with big picture ideas, and at the same time dive right in and personally get results at the on-the-ground level. 

My primary goal over the next three years will be to double the number of youth players in the United States. It would be my pleasure to continue to serve USA Ultimate and achieve this goal. For more information about my candidacy, please visit www.JoshSeamon2010.com.

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Mandy Eckhoff
Quincy, MA

Audio Interview with Mandy Eckhoff

In the year and a half I have been on the USA Ultimate Board of Directors the organization has transformed from the UPA to USA Ultimate and taken significant steps to advance the sport and broaden its participation base and appeal.  Overall knowledge of and participation in ultimate has expanded, we’ve been featured on ESPN and developed relationships with business and organizations to that will help to market and further promote the sport.  In the middle of these large changes, the organization has remained committed to providing opportunities to learn and compete to its members.  

And, as the organization has grown and developed, the underlying structure of the organization has also had to change to keep pace.  I feel fortunate to have contributed my energy, enthusiasm and unique set of skills as a business consultant, attorney, and member of other non-profit Boards as well as my experience playing ultimate at the collegiate, recreational, and club level to help implement these important organizational changes such as updating and revising the Conduct Policy to include a process allowing members to appeal decisions of the administration, revising the existing Bylaws and draft a Diversity Policy.  These changes, which aren’t particularly glamorous and will never make the highlights reel of ESPN, are essential to ensure that the organization has a solid structural and organization foundation from which to further develop and grow.   
As an ultimate player in New England, member of the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance Board of Directors and league organizer, I believe that I can represent the New England Region and its views on various changes and issues facing ultimate as a sport and USA Ultimate as an organization.  I would like to continue talking to players, organizers, coaches and parents in the region to learn about what issues they would like to see addressed as the sport continues to grow.

As the organization continues to grow, I believe it is important to maintain focus on the things that make the game of ultimate and the ultimate community unique.  One of these aspects is the Spirit of the Game.  This dedication to promoting and encouraging sportsmanship through self-officiating is an essential aspect of the game which should continue to be highlighted at all levels of play.  Additionally, because of the uniqueness of the sport and the man positive benefits of playing, I think it is important to continue to develop, maintain, and promote opportunities for women, young and old, to play ultimate.  As a Board member, I would like to continue to develop new ways to highlight promote the spirit of the game during various levels of competition and identify new ways to encourage more women to play ultimate through the development of women’s teams, leagues and coaches.  

I am very excited about this time in the development of our sport and hope to continue to contribute my skills, energy and enthusiasm to the growth of ultimate as the Northeast Representative.  Thank you for your consideration and support!

Jeremy McNamara
Albany, NY

Audio Interview with Jeremy McNamara

I need your vote to help make your ultimate experience better.

First off, a bit about me.  I’ve been playing ultimate for eight years at various levels.  I first played ultimate in Albany summer league which led me to college ultimate with RPI Trudge.  I’m currently a player on Destructors, a new mid-level mixed club team in Albany.  For the last two years I’ve taken the lead role in running Albany Ultimate Disc Association (AUDA) as a board member and president.  Outside of ultimate, I work as a mechanical design engineer at Covidien and teach chemistry courses at Siena College.  In the past I’ve worked in the finance department of the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, a local not-for-profit.

In both my job and as president of AUDA, I hold myself to a very high standard and I will bring the same work ethic to the USAU Board of Directors; not only for me, but for everyone else that works there as well.  As an engineer, I work with a team to identify problems or areas for improvement and quickly create optimal solutions; ideally before the issue becomes a problem.  I approach everything with great attention to detail and don’t stop until the work is done.  In the two short years leading AUDA, the organization has become incorporated as a not-for-profit, grown from a single summer league to three leagues (competitive, social, and women’s), and more than doubled the number of players.  

Since re-branding there have been problems with the lines of communication between the USAU and members in both directions.  I am a huge proponent of open communication and would like to see a clearer two-way dialog between the USAU and its members.  Additionally, while the new website may have taken a step forward visually, it has taken a step backward in usability.  It is no longer easy to find tournaments, leagues, or events.  Simply navigating the website has become very difficult.  Helping players find places to play should be a primary goal of the site and the USAU.

Ultimate has grown to the point where it is showing up on the mainstream radar with increasing frequency.  I think the USAU has done a great job growing ultimate among youth and we need to continue that.  As ultimate gets even bigger, the USAU may have to consider some rule changes.  I don’t know what, if any, rules should be added or changed, but I think we need to keep experimenting with progressive rules to test their effect.  I like that the USAU has already tried some active calls at Nationals and I think additional experimentation can only help the sport continue to grow.

I’m always available for questions, concerns, and criticisms; right now and if elected to the board.  Email me about anything at JMacForUSAUBoard@gmail.com and I’ll get right back to you.  Bottom line, I come in with high expectations and I do my very best to get everything done.

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Frank Flores
Emeryville, California

Audio Interview with Frank Flores

My Name is Frank (Frankus) Flores. Originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts, I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area (Emeryville). I have been playing the game of Ultimate since high school and competitively now since 1989 where I began at UMass Amherst. I have played in every division short of Women's (not for lack of trying) and on almost every continent since then. I continue to play competitively and unconditionally love this wonderful sport. Ultimate has definitely shaped me into the person I am today. Most of my extended family have entered my life directly through our sport and I continue to learn more about myself and the world around us by spending time with these incredible people and in this sport.

Over the years, I have TD’ed sanctioned tournaments and served as a sectional and regional coordinator for the UPA. I've been a coach, a captain, and run youth training camps. i understand the game, the organization that oversees it, and of course the people that play. in my professional life, I am a Director for a multi-million dollar real estate development company. I also serve as the Chair for my City's Planning Commission. I have a BA in Business and a Masters in Planning and actively volunteer for multiple non-profit organizations from Big Brother/Sister to Meals on Wheels for Seniors.
I love our game. it has more than influenced me to be a better human being. I respect the Spirit of the Game and have been satisfied with the growth of the sport. We have not compromised the principles by which the sport was built on, yet we have seen membership grow exponentially and the international competition rise out of this hard stance. I see our game played in the Olympics and on National Television. I also see it continue to be played the way it was originally intended. I’m old school with visions for the new.

I bring years of experience to the board, both within the game and professionally. I am always excited to contribute to the groups and organizations that have contributed to me so much in the past. I would be proud to serve on the Board and represent my friends and the entire UPA membership.

Ann Huang
Seattle, WA

Audio Interview with Ann Huang

Hi, I’m Ann Huang and I am running for the position of Northwest representative on the USA Ultimate Board of Directors. I have been involved in ultimate in various ways since 2000: playing summer pickup; recruiting college women; organizing College Sectionals; captaining league teams; TDing Northwest Mixed Regionals, and now as just a player on a Seattle coed team. Throughout my decade of playing, I have constantly been impressed by how the hard work of everyday players has evolved ultimate.

As a fairly young player, my personal work in ultimate has had its ups and downs. In high school, I enthusiastically led a team of borrowed athletes to a loss against a more experienced, less athletic team. Learning about the stack after that experience was revolutionary! Four years later, after co-captaining Pansy (the Carnegie-Mellon/Pitt consortium that has spawned Danger! and Money Mellons), the years of savage games, tough recruiting seasons, and prematurely complaining knees led me to a deliberate step away from ultimate. I found it all too easy to use my move to the Northwest in 2005 as an excuse to stop playing.

When I decided that it was time to get back into ultimate, it was more difficult than I had anticipated. Trying out for teams was one thing, but I also felt a huge disconnect with the elite community that I was used to being part of. It was disconcerting that one year away from ultimate could make it so hard to get back involved. Instead of reading UPA newsletters and nodding my head to the articles as I once did, I found myself asking myself, “Why do I even care about this article?” As much as I respected and admired the voices of the elite players writing and reporting, I wondered where the voice of the average player was. The one that had played years of just league or the adult player that had just finished their first hat league – people who we want to connect with.

I am running for the board because I believe that there needs to be a member who is partly removed from the ultimate community. As someone who loves ultimate and has spent time away from it, I want to contribute to the board the opinion of a more average player. I want to reach the players in hat leagues, the ones who are just showing up to pickup, and even the perspective player walking their dog past a game. With my experience as a board member and board fellow on several Seattle non-profits, I hope to give back to the USA Ultimate community by making the best of my background and experiences.

Mike Payne
Oakland, CA

Audio Interview with Mike Payne

USA Ultimate Northwest region members,

I’d be honored and excited to receive your vote! I have a lot of energy, ideas, focus, and relevant experience that I will bring to the table as I represent the Northwest membership, and to help lead USA Ultimate in the next stage of its evolution. I am:
• A 17-year player and coach (I was fortunate to recently bring a gold medal back to the USA from 2010 WUCC as a Captain of Revolver)
• A former 2-term UPA Board member (including serving from 2006-2008 as the President of the UPA)
• A successful professional with 10 years of experience in consulting and biotechnology management
• The father of a 2-year old son with a wicked lefty backhand (!)
There are two things that are particularly important to me as a potential Board member:
1. Planning for the ‘next generation’ of Ultimate in the USA
2. Ensuring that USAU members have the amount of input they want, into the current and future governance of Ultimate in the USA
1) Planning for the ‘next generation’ of Ultimate in the USA
What do you want Ultimate to look like by the year 2017? Will Ultimate be televised on ESPN? How many millions of people will play Ultimate regularly? Will Ultimate be on-track to be an Olympic sport? Can (and should) Ultimate be required PE curriculum for middle-schoolers nationwide?
These are questions we have to start answering now!
Between 2006-2008, I helped lead the creation of USAU’s current Strategic Plan.  That plan includes many of the exciting changes you’ve seen (or heard about) recently, including expansion of youth, implementation of divisional playoffs and regular seasons in both college and club, increased number/quality of observers, and the new USAU website. 
However, the current Strategic Plan expires in 2012, and these plans take a long time to put together because we get input from thousands of members, and write them carefully to ensure success. So, we need to get started on the next Strategic Plan (for 2013-2017) soon! I am excited to apply my professional skills and experience with the prior UPA plan, to get this job done right.
Just a few areas I think that the 2013-2017 Strategic Plan will need to address are:
• Expansion of youth programming to include younger (8+years) players, and more active participation of parents
• Expansion of competitive college Ultimate to the thousands of medium/large campuses that do not have sustained programs
• Establishment of long-lasting corporate sponsor relationships with companies that are large enough to support television broadcast of key games/tournaments, but also share values with the majority of USAU members
2) Ensuring members’ voices are heard
Earlier this year, the name of our organization changed from ‘Ultimate Players Association’ to ‘USA Ultimate.’ Let me be clear – I am in favor of the new name! However, the name change begs the question – ‘going forward, what is the role of our members in helping to determine the future of Ultimate?’ 
The fact that our organization’s name no longer includes the word ‘players’ (along with other changes, like the fact that 25% of our Board members are appointed by the Board rather than elected by the membership) suggests that we no longer need 100% player control. However, I am worried that if the pendulum swings too far the other way, Ultimate players will be unhappy with ‘where our sport ends up.’ As a Board member from 2011-2013, I am committed to working with our membership to determine a level and method of input that our membership can feel comfortable with over the long term. This is your sport, and I want to ensure that you guide its future!

Thanks so much for your consideration – I hope to receive your vote.

PS. I will be using my Facebook page to host discussions (and thus answer questions, get input, etc.) – please visit the page and click ‘Like’ to follow the campaign!

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