2017 Board Election: At-Large Candidate Q&A

Posted: November 3, 2017 10:36 AM

We held an open Q&A November 1-2, 2017, with the at-large candidates for the USA Ultimate Board of Directors. Questions were submitted on Facebook, on Twitter with #USAUElection and via email to info@hq.usaultimate.org. 

In case you missed it, here are all the questions with answers, so far, from the 2017 at-large candidates. 

Last updated: Nov. 3, 2017 

Q: Candidates and Ultimate Community, Thanks everyone for engaging in the USAU board member election. USAU was entirely driven by volunteer engagement for decades. Now there are full time staff members, but a huge amount of the effort USAU puts into Ultimate comes from people like you and I bothering to engage and trying to help Ultimate be all it can be, so yea, thanks, go us.

This FB event is an opportunity for you to get to know the candidates. The candidates have been asked to make themselves available for a three hour period on at least one of the evenings noted above. Some of them had hard conflicts that prevented them from being available for both nights like coaching or major work commitments, I ask you not to judge them on how frequently they are able to respond but on the content of their responses. Additionally, the site will be open for continued discussion after each two-day event so they can get a chance to come back and answer anything they may have missed.

I can’t wait to hear your questions and the candidate's responses. I’ll get this started with a question of my own: 

Candidates, if there was one thing you could accomplish for the sport of Ultimate as a USAU board member, and feel free to go wild, something impossible is fine, I’m just trying to understand your aspirations for the sport, but if there was one thing you could accomplish, what would that be? - Henry Thorne, USAU Board VP and Nominating Committee Chair

Josh Seamon: Thanks for much for all of your work on this and SO MANY other front Henry! As for my answer: I would want everyone to have equitable access to Ultimate. I want systemic, thoughtful, and powerful programs and policies in place that help get us to the point where the population of people playing Ultimate is a perfect representation of our awesomely diverse overall population.

Kurt Kuelz: Henry thanks for pulling this together. As we discussed I leave tomorrow for a 7 da business trip so my time is somewhat limited. To answer your question the "one" thing I would like to help accomplish is to have Ultimate become as well known as the other major sports in the US (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, etc). My rational is not based on a need to establish the credibility of the sport but more to have Ultimate become a "normal" selection for youth seeking a sport to play. In our current society youth far too often land on Ultimate after exhausting basketball, baseball, football, etc. and often don’t land on Ultimate until later in life. In a perfect world, Ultimate, and all the benefits the sport brings would be a "normal" sport of choice for our youth.

Tyler Kinley: If there was one thing I could accomplish, it would be to drastically increase the participation in ultimate at the youth level throughout the country. I think this would have an incredible impact on most every other goal for the sport.

Q: Earlier this year, the USA Ultimate Vision Tour meetings hosted break-out group discussions about the Olympic Dream. One of the most consistent messages from these discussions was that USA Ultimate shouldn’t sacrifice/compromise our values in pursuit of the dream. Over the course of the last few decades, the Olympic Games have successfully showcased athletes and sports on a global stage. However, there is also a well-documented history of fraud and corruption, often at the expense of host cities across the world. What will you do as a board member to ensure that the core values of USA Ultimate are not sacrificed or compromised? What, if anything, are you willing to compromise/sacrifice in order to realize the Olympic Dream? How would you make decisions about allocating organizational resources to this strategic item in proportion to other strategies (equity & diversity, youth structure, etc.)? - William Bartram
Josh Seamon: Thanks for your questions Bunny! To answer your first question: Dots, talk, memory, and numbers. As for dots -- I will always remember what came out of the incredible Vision Tour. The dots speak quite clearly and in many ways are represented by the one image of dots from the tour attached to this post. I will always be looking at those dote. As for talk -- I have been deeply connected to a huge spectrum of our community and our sport for most of my adult life. I am constantly talking to people in all corners of the USAU community, so I am aware of our core values not only on a strat-planned level, but directly from the membership as well.. I believe in the core values of USAU, and to defend them I need to know what they are. I will always be actively talking to the community. As for memory -- I have seen what has happened to our sport throughout the years when our core values have been sacrificed, and I know first-hand the damage that can be wrought by not staying true to our values. To me, it’s not a theoretical -- "Oh, if we slide here it’ll be fine." In many case, no it won’t. I’ve seen it not be okay. On the flip side, I’ve seen how glorious things can be when we stay true to our values. I will always remember that glory. As for numbers -- I believe in making large decisions based on hard numbers. I will listen to anecdotal evidence, but action will be taken based on hard numbers. The USAU membership has spoken about how strongly it believes in our core value and it has come across, on multiple levels in numbers. I will always remember that. [Dots image here: http://bit.ly/olympic-dots]
To answer your second question: The only thing that I can think of that I am willing to sacrifice, even a little of, is the speed of the growth of the sport. I would MUCH rather the sport grow the right way, slowly, and get to the Olympic Dream a few years later than possible, than have the sport grow too quickly, but in the wrong way, and get to the Olympic Dream faster.
To answer your third question: I believe that we can work towards the Olympic Dream almost entirely within the other strategies. Even though the new strategic plan isn’t fully formed (soon! exciting!), if it’s at all similar to the current plan (https://www.usaultimate.org/strategic_plan/), we’ll be able to support our path to the Olympics through support of the other strategies. As mentioned above, I am not willing to sacrifice anything other than speed of growth solely for the Olympics. I am willing to support our other strategies in ways that helps usher us in the right direction towards the Olympics. As long as we are thoughtful, we can do this right. So, to me, adding in the Olympics doesn’t change regular board-level budgetary calculus.
Harvey Edwards: William, I competed in three world championships in Toronto, Madison, WI, and Somerset, England. I'm also proud to say that our team went back to back to back as champions in the Masters Division. That trio of experiences were the closest I can imagine to being in the Olympics. The international competition, incredible fanfare, relatively large crowds and local coverage made the tournaments unimaginable. Nevertheless, those competitions were light-years away from the controversies and concerns you have rightfully ascribed to the Olympic organization. The governing bodies for the world and USA regarding the Olympics are gargantuan bureaucracies that certainly have had their problems. However, we can control many of the facets of our sport should it make it to the Olympics, which remains a lofty and honorable goal. An Olympic footing would validate our sport to the larger world in immeasurable ways. That could bring untold resources to our sport to enhance equity, diversity, youth development and more. I responded to an earlier question about SOTG acknowledging that it is a core value to our sport that sets us apart. So, it would need to be instituted in some manner. My decisions as a board member on this matter would have at the heart the healthy and wholesome growth of our sport for all.
Kurt Kuelz: As a realist, I realize that the Olympics, like most institutions in the world have unfortunately been impacted by corruption. However, I believe the Olympics stand for so much more in our global society. The Olympic values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship align well with our values and we have all experienced both the excitement the Olympics bring as well as the opportunity for nations and citizens to interact peacefully. I don't have specific list of what I would/would not compromise for Ultimate to be included in the Olympics. I do believe that a vast majority of our players would like to see Ultimate in the Olympics and it lines up well with my goals to provide outstanding playing experiences to all players (in this case elite players) and to aggressively grow the sport. My approach would to present our sport "as is" and seek to understand objections and concerns of the other party. Once objectives were clearly understood, I would innovate options that allow us to retain our core values and guiding principles while meeting the needs of the other party. Given the close alignment of our principles, I am confident that we would be able to find a viable way forward of both parties. While I believe attaining the Olympics is important, I would not be willing to over invest in this one objective. We need to continue provide excellent experiences for all players at all levels while pursuing the Olympic dream.
Tyler Kinley:  I view the Olympic corruption mainly as a separate issue that has more to do with site selection than the Olympic games themselves, therefore I don't see it as an obstacle or impediment in terms of Ultimate's goal of Olympic inclusion. As for the considerations of sacrifices, I think many of Ultimate's current core values, including self-officiation, gender equity, a stated concept of spirit of the game, as well as its on-field mixed play, make it a prime example of many Olympic ideals, and think that we need not make any sacrifices to these things to achieve the goal of Olympic inclusion. I think one mistake is to believe that our best hope to reach the Olympics is through more viewership through pro leagues, which does add eyeballs on the sport, but doesn't check the boxes of mixed play or self-officiation, which the Olympic Committee has stated are very attractive selling points. This is not to say the pro leagues shouldn't exist, but simply that the added viewership they undoubtedly provide does not necessarily equate to a better chance for Olympic inclusion.

Q:  Hey y'all! Harvey, Kurt I know you to be quality players & individuals, and uncoverable at least by me, Josh I watch you work tirelessly for Ultimate Peace, thoughtful and deeply passionate about our sport and Tyler I saw quite a grab on you tube plus a glance at your resume suggests something similar to your elders. Thanks for competing for this post for the betterment of us who volunteer less than you do. My question follows, predictably if you know me, about SOTG. ?? As we seek greater endorsement from the world in forms of advertisement, TV/internet promotion and potential Olympic participation, what do you all see as acceptable compromises to our spirit concept and what elements would you consider vital to maintain? Expound on your sense of the community as it sees SOTG and your duty to their interest on this matter. THANKS! - StuBear (Stu Downs)
Harvey Edwards: StuBear, great to trip down memory lane back to the day. I present it that way because as you know, I started playing in 75-76, when SOTG was a core value to our sport. SOTG allowed our sport to distinguish itself from those that had "officials" or "referees." It engendered a level of respect between competitors that was unrivaled in sport. That said, SOTG must be maintained to some degree to foster the collegiality and esprit de corps sets that Ultimate apart. I could envision a statement about SOTG and form of recognition that keeps the concept at the fore even in the most heated matches, before and after games. We need to be the change we want to see in competitive sports on all levels. Of course, in the end the team and individual with the best balance of spirit and competitiveness should be recognized along with the champions.
Kurt Kuelz: Stu - Spirit of the Game is a foundational principle and core goal for the sport of Ultimate. I believe a vast majority of the community lives/plays by SOG and that we must continue to work hard to make spirit of the game real for today's players and our community. With that said, I am a realist with ideals and not an idealist and my business background tells me that without compromise there is stalemate (just look at our dysfunctional government). The approach I would take is to seek to understand the concerns that exist from the perspective of the other party and innovate options that would enable us to retain our core principles while finding a win-win approach. I have negotiated a vast number of agreements in my background and I have found that where there is a willingness there is almost always a way to find a win-win approach. 
Tyler Kinley: I think the notion of Spirit of the Game is something inherently special about ultimate, and that quite often its importance and simple beauty is only realized in its fullest extent later in peoples' careers. In my global travels, in Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, Hong Kong, countless times I've met players and teachers and parents in these countries whose love of the game is fundamentally rooted in spirit -- they simply adore the sport in large part because of the interpersonal communication skills that only come from a lack of a referee, and the community it creates in knowing you must respect and work with your opponent. For them, this was wholly different from any other sport they'd ever known. In the states, too, children and parents alike flock to ultimate for these reasons. I think it is also, in some areas, quite hard for players in the US to fully grasp this, especially in communities where the notion might already be questioned, because it can seem anti-competitive or "soft," yet I think that comes from a lack of understanding that can be learned. I believe that a loss of the notion of spirit of the game for any reason whatsoever would be an immeasurable and permanent loss to the sport.
Josh Seamon: Thanks Stu! "What is Spirit?" is a question I have jumped full force into countless times during my coaching clinics, in one on one discussions, in board rooms, on sidelines, in my classroom, at Camp Ultimate Peace, and in some many other situations. It’s an eternal question that is central to yours. One of the biggest tenants regarding spirit that I have learned over the years and through these discussions is that the definition of spirit and how it is practiced and lived varies wildly within our community. The second tenant is that, to almost everyone in our community, sprit is, at a minimum, very important. So, we have something that’s considered very important with super no strict common definition. I doubt any of what I just said is news to anyone, but I think it’s very important to explicitly state during any discussion of acceptable compromises and red lines with regards to spirit. 
So, while keeping that all in mind, to me, the one place compromises can be reached are in the area of how calls are made. I am a firm believer in passive observers, but I think I could be convinced to see passive observers take a bit more power away from the players... IN SOME circumstances. Like how there are instructional observers for some youth games, we can have different sets of observer powers at different levels of the game. Instructional observers have one way of doing things during youth games, and then have a different set for, say, the National Club Championships. So, for example, yes, it would take away some power away from players to immediately eject a player for doing something like this (https://giphy.com/gifs/3ohhwIdpO9YOLPp3gc), but I think that’s an acceptable compromise. I would also be open to hearing other ways passive observers could be granted more powers, while still remaining (mostly) passive. That being said, with regard to making calls, I do have a red line:
The red line is making a majority of calls actively made by a third party. Specifically, how the AUDL makes calls. To me, that is too much power taken away from the players and destroys a vital component of spirit. Token actions like the creation of an "Integrity Rule" (http://theaudl.com/articles/thr/integrity) are not enough, in my opinion, to balance out the sacrifice to spirit or make it worth it.
Another element of spirit that I believe is absolutely vital to maintain: Our communities steadfast believe in equity and speaking up for the underrepresented. We need to grow the sport and the things you mention could help us grow, but we must grow the right way. This may mean turning down sponsors and some forms of participation that could lead to growth, if they don’t grow the sport in the right way. It’s far more important to grow thoughtfully and in the right ways, than it is to grow quickly.
The value and priority we place in spirit is also vital to maintain. Spirit must be kept at the forefront of Ultimate in order for Ultimate to remain Ultimate. 
My duty to the community with regard to spirit is to understand the diverse opinions on spirit and meld those views into action at the board level. To be specific, it means things like protecting the items I described above as vital. While some may disagree with me on those points, I believe that the majority of the members of our community do, so I will act to protect them. I am absolutely comfortable with voting/acting against my personal views if it’s in the best interest of USAU and/or the majority view of the community. In this case, with regards to the vital elements I outlined above, I believe that they are all in alignment.

Q: Most sports in the USA have a pyramid of participation: broad participation among youth players, narrowing through high school and college, and then competitive play for adults only for pro or semi-pro athletes. In contrast, USAU and ultimate generally avoids this pyramid model currently, meaning that there is meaningful adult participation in the sport, allowing player control, volunteer athletes as coaches, and avoiding some of the problems of youth sports.
How can ultimate maintain growth among youth players without falling into this pattern and ending up being a sport that most leave behind in middle school or high school? How can we continue to connect all of our players with competitive opportunities in college and beyond, as we also showcase our top athletes and promote youth growth? - Sam Tobin-Hochstadt
Harvey Edwards:  Sam, inherent in the sport of Ultimate is the grass roots nature of the game, which largely produces the paradigm shift you described. The sport has a natural flow for competitive abilities from youth, mixed to grand masters.Keeping everyone happy is indeed a challenge. However, the nature of the sport is welcoming to young people and the number of high schools with programs that attract young players and develop existing players is constantly expanding. Clearly, an Olympic opportunity would place the sport on a stage for all the world to see. That tide would "lift all boats" and showcase our athletes everywhere in the world.
Kurt Kuelz: Same - While I appreciate the concern you express, I believe the risk of Ultimate becoming a "pyramid" is quite low. One of the many beauties of Ultimate is the ease of participation. As a board member I will push that we maintain our focus of providing outstanding playing experiences for players of all age, gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin and skill levels so we can continue to engage our diverse community.
Josh Seamon: You are absolutely correct that the "shape" of Ultimate is not a pyramid. I remember talking about this topic at a board meeting in 2009 and we kept coming back to saying we were some kind of diamond shape. We were that way because A) Not enough kids were playing Ultimate and B) We do a really good job at creating meaningful playing opportunities for people of all ages. 
Since then, the base of diamond has widened as youth numbers have accelerated in growth, and we have continued to have strong retention rates. Also, the diamond has increased dramatically in size.
We can enjoy fantastic growth at the youth level and mute the point of our pyramid by continuing the offer meaningful participation opportunities for all and all populations inside our increasingly diverse ultimate family. We’re headed towards being more pyramid-shaped, but we can do everything we can to make sure the top of the pyramid is as flat as possible. We need and should have a larger base of kids playing the sport than adults, but we should make it so it’s almost impossible for anyone to leave :)
I see Affiliates and SBOs as being key to expanding ways we keep people playing ultimate for their entire life. Local orgs will know their populations best and be able to craft optimal playing opportunities. In order for numbers to keep growing, USAU’s infrastructure must grow and customize itself to the specific nuances and needs of each ultimate community. Being able to successfully connect all of our players with competitive opportunities in college and beyond will come down to having a ridiculously awesome range of ways to play available and accessible all over. In every corner. Programs need to be carefully crafted so that they go out of their way to be aggressively equitable and appealing in many different ways.
Showcasing will continue to be done as it is now at large events, more of which are getting broadcast every day. The US Open/YCC event was an amazing view into the future of what a "normal" ultimate event will be. I see a day where something like that event will be a normal event for affiliates to run. It’s going to be an awesome day.me day.
Last and most importantly, we will continue to grow in the right way, and maximize our player retention if we stay true to our values. Our values of character, competition, and competition... but most importantly spirit. People fall in love with ultimate and stay with it for many reasons, but the most powerful and common reason is spirit and how it permeates all we do and work to achieve. Spirit will continue to drive our growth and keep people connected to the sport for their whole lives.

Q: How can you as a board member and USAU as a whole improve the perception of "transparency" among the current players? Currently we have no idea how individual board members vote on topics, so it is hard to "hold people accountable" when they vote against what you think should be happening. - Andrew Francis
Harvey Edwards: Andrew, you will be able to hold me accountable by contacting me directly. I will share with you all I can regarding why I voted on a particular issue.
Kurt Kuelz: Andrew - Building trust between the governing body and the players is incredibly important. Trust is typically built through open dialogue. Once I understand the specifies of how the board operates I would seek ways to build trust through improved communication.
Tyler Kinley: Andrew - when I was elected as a USAU player rep, my platform was that USA needed to improve its communication, and I learned an incredible amount about the inner workings of USAU's process. Subsequently, I wrote a number of articles expounding on what I'd learned in the hopes of providing transparency and reasoning behind USAU's actions. While I can't commit to writing these again, if I am elected, I will continue to work to provide transparency as best I can. I do know that there's a lot I don't yet know about their current processes and inner workings at the board level, but I hope my track record shows that I too believe in transparency, and will work to help provide it.
Josh Seamon: First, I absolutely empathize with your frustration. When I wasn’t on the board I felt that way and during each of my two terms on the board I have worked to try and change the vote publication policy. I will be making a third attempt to change the policy and am hopeful regarding success given the lessons I learned during my first two attempts.
Second, while it’s not a sure-fire method for being able to predict vote outcomes, and I can only really speak for myself, you can read oodles and oodles about me and my history... and get a pretty good idea on how I’m going to vote on many issues. Again, this is not perfect at all, but given how I am an enormously googleable person, especially with regards to Ultimate, you can learn tons about me that can be directly extrapolated into determining my likely votes.  
Third, all board members (especially me!) are more than happy to answer questions and chat! Feel free to reach out any time! I love engaging with the community and venture to be as transparent as I possibly can.
I absolutely understand that these are probably not satiating answers. I’m working to improve transparency and would love to hear more ideas on what to work on. 

Q: I recently took over the role in my community that focuses on youth development. Living in a smaller community than many (200 person summer league), we see youth as a valid way of increasing our numbers and paving the way for more success in the future. I think USAU has done a great job of helping established communities deal with some of the issues that come up when dealing with youth, but I don’t feel like the resources are there for small communities. When I’ve reached out to the resources that are available, I’ve been told to try and organize a state championship, which is a large undertaking and we don’t have any teams to compete in it. I would love to hear some thoughts on how we can grow in our smaller communities. - Robert Boyd
Kurt Kuelz: Robert - Lack of resources is always a challenge. This is a challenge I have had to overcome in my business life many times. To overcome the challenge we need to find ways of making volunteers (we will always need volunteers) incredibly productive by "codifying " best practices and supporting materials. Imagine a "state tournament in a box" having everything a volunteer needs to organize and run a statement tournament. The answer has to be on better enabling our volunteers.

Q: What will you do to decrease the USAU's reliance on increasing player and participation fees?
While this is not a barrier for many existing and more affluent players, it can be a very real barrier for new players and folks without much disposable income and may be counterproductive.
Do you have ideas on how to generate new revenue that doesn't further tax the players? Or do you have insights into how to dramatically reduce the costs to still achieve the same or better results? - Anthony David Adams
Kurt Kuelz: The biggest driver of fees is typically insurance. This is an unfortunate reality in our "law suit" based society. Every year I have to grow my business and expand my margins. What I know works is having well established plans, with actions and owners and driving a culture of accountability. I would hold work with the operating committee responsible for driving down the cost of insurance and other operating expenses to ensure they have clear plans and actions to drive down costs. Equally would I would want to ensure the operating committee for revenue generation is developing innovative ideas. Most sports revenues are generated though sponsorships, advertising and merchandise. I would expect to see solid plans with associated actions for expanding current revenue streams and generating new ones. If these plans are not in place or are not adequate I would work with the teams to get solid plans in place.

Q: Is Brodie Smith an elite ultimate player? - Miller Yoho
Harvey Edwards: Brodie is the solo "Gator" Globetrotter and his skills are eclectically elite. He is also an incredible ultimate player because of his accomplishments on the pitch. He's got game!
Tyler Kinley: Yes.

Q: How do you plan on promoting women in ultimate more? - Lucas Johnson
Harvey Edwards: I began playing in the 70's when our team was coed and two of the best players on the 14-member team were women. There were only two women on the team. Also, my son played on an elite mixed club team that has won a national championship. I am all about recruiting and supporting women and minorities in our sport. The way to do that is to actively encourage the sport in elementary, middle, high school and the community. I was once the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) regional commissioner in my small rural town in PA. I encouraged parents, coaches and players to develop same-gender teams after age six. We grew from roughly 150 players to over 300, because girls came out in huge numbers. It can be done with the right recruitment strategies.
Tyler Kinley: Honestly, I'm not sure yet of specifics, but I'd say - with energy and motivation. At present USAU has a number of initiatives going, so I would be in favor of reviewing their performance - where they are succeeding and where they have room for growth - as well as talking with current players about their experiences and ideas, and to see if there's some potential for synergy there. Finally, I'd want to research other sports and see where they've found the most success.
Josh Seamon: Thank you for your question Lucas! To me, it comes down to visibility, policy, programs, and tenacity. 
**Visibility**: I will continue my work to push for and support all creative efforts to make womens Ultimate more and more visible. Everywhere. I want even more games made available on a myriad of platforms. I want to see even more crushingly awesome womens Ultimate posters all over the place. (I need another one to go next to my Opi/Mira card!). I want to see GUM folded into even more national curricula. 
**Policy**: I will continue my work pushing for progressive and aggressively equitable policies inside staff and board-level committees and working groups. By doing the right things with equity and diversity we will do the right things for women in Ultimate. I am currently very excited about all the work that’s currently being done to update USAU’s Gender Equity Policy
**Programs**: Promoting women in Ultimate needs to be systemic throughout every aspect of the USAU DNA. It needs to live, well, not only in programs like GUM and in the Equity and Diversity Working Group, it needs to be an operational norm in all Affiliates and State Based Orgs. Recently I am very proud of the work done by Minnesota Ultimate and my home town Valley Ultimate
**Tenacity**: When I was a youth, one of my mentors (Tiina Booth) taught me one great way to enact change: "Gentle Relentless Pressure". Now, the term "Gentle" can be swung, widely, in a couple directions, but the theme is the same no matter where you land... Relentless Pressure. Promoting women in Ultimate needs to be constant and relentless. People and organizations need to constantly ask themselves how they can promote and grow womens Ultimate. At the board-level I have done that through constant support of womens Ultimate initiatives and participation on multiple womens Ultimate and womens-Ultimate-related committees/working groups. I want way, way more women playing Ultimate, after all, that is a natural byproduct of by being built by #badassfeminists.

Q: Are there any women on the Board? - Amy Spaulding
Josh Seamon: Thanks for asking Amy! There are currently 5 women serving on the board: https://www.usaultimate.org/board/

Q: This question may sound snarky, but it's not: are you watching Game 7 of the World Series tonight? If so, why? If not, why? - Tony Leonardo
Kurt Kuelz: Tony - Thanks for the reminder!!! I will be watching as much as possible because I love sports and I especially love "big games". At the same time I am a guy who honors commitments and I committed to this forum and I have a 7 day business trip that I leave on tomorrow for which I am still preparing. Unfortunately it will be a late night and I will only be getting to see the end of the game and the important highlights.

Q: Can you comment of the idea of having a feedback survey for every email question that is directed to a USA Ultimate official, Regional and youth coordinators? - John Capozzi
Kurt Kuelz: John - I work for a company that sends a survey for every request to our Support organization so I can appreciate the elegance of the request. With that said there is a cost to put such a system in place and there needs to be resources in place to evaluate the surveys and take actions. This takes resources and money and would need to be considered in the context of all of USA Ultimate's priorities
Follow-up (JC): I survey asking for feedback would automatically be sent to anyone a week to two after they made their inquiry...Thanks, John Capozzi
Josh Seamon: You're talking about something like an automated customer satisfaction survey? I think something like that may work well. The more feedback we can get the better. Do you think the membership would be up for receiving more surveys from USAU?
Follow-up (JC): Yes! Ultimate players love to express their opinion.

Q: I have been playing for 15 years, I am a lifetime member, have played in youth, HS, college, and club level, I organize tournaments, coach 3+ teams (depending on the year), have served on the USAU national coaching selection committee, and have voted in every board election since joining. I say all this to put my question in context. 
I am not considered an "elite" player. As such I have less voting rights for board members, (as do most of the current board members), then those board members (who I have less say in selecting) pick other members of the board. This is then the board that decides the future of ultimate. Can you please tell me how you think it is right to have the vast majority of the people who play ultimate have such little say (roughly 30% that of "elite players" if you take into account their double votes picking other members) in the future of the national governing body? 
If you do not think it is right, what would you as a board member do to change this policy?
I want to apologize for not thanking you for being open to questions and running. I know it is always easy to complain about those who are willing to work. - John Groess
Kurt Kuelz: John - I can honestly say that at this moment, I don’t understand all of the mechanics of how board members are elected. I can say that the sport has a broad base of participation and there should be fairness in the leverage that the various constituents have. I would seek to understand the rationale for the current approach and seek to align those mechanics in the spirit of fairness for representation across the various stakeholders
Josh Seamon: The USAU Board is made up of 12 members: 4 are at-large, 3 are elite-athlete, 2 are selected by the board that can be anyone, and 3 are selected by the board who need to be "independent". You can read more about all of this in the bylaws.
Board composition was shifted in 2010 to include the 5 appointed positions mainly so that the board could make sure certain skill sets were always present on the board (law, finance...) 
The shift to the 3 elite-athlete representatives occurred in ~2014 when USAU started making a move towards seeking USOC inclusion. The USOC requires that "elite athletes" be present in all sorts of places at the board level: They must make up at least 20% of committees and be present in lots of other places. (So, 3 are needed at a minimum so that they don’t get overloaded.) As far as I understand things, it’s also a USOC requirement that only "elite athletes" can vote on the selection of board member "elite athletes". 
While I don’t think it’s a perfectly optimal system, I think it’s worth it to be a part of the USOC. 

Q: (Disclaimer - I'm a paid employee of the Washington Area Frisbee Club, but my comments & questions here are my own, and don't represent WAFC or its Board of Directors.)
USAU has been clear about their vision of recruiting SBOs and Affiliate Orgs to develop our sport's infrastructure. USAU relies on volunteers - paid or stipend - to manage nearly all local programming, and most of those volunteers presumably come from various local disc organizations. The folks in Co Springs can only do so much and will always rely on regional/local volunteers to act as boots on the ground. This is clear.
My concern = I think USAU sees SBOs & Affiliates as something that's preordained, of which I'm not so sure. There are several large, established, mature disc organizations in the US who don't ostensibly gain from the benefits offered to affiliates. These are the local orgs with the most resources and largest pool of volunteers to utilize, so USAU stands to gain a lot by getting these orgs formerly affiliated. But I'm not sure there's been enough outreach & dialogue to identify what USAU can propose to mature disc orgs to make affiliation worthwhile to both sides.
A related concern = beginning in 2017, USAU become a more active gatekeeper for YCC eligibility, requiring HS State Tournament participation from youth players to be eligible for YCC (with some exceptions, some added retroactively.) In an explanation to national YCC stakeholders, Will Deaver included the following phrase: "we have seen first hand for many years that national incentives do work to motivate action, sometimes where action would not have taken place otherwise. When we do this, typically we are thinking about how to motivate local action that ends up have a broad, national-level impact that the local group may not have as their top priority, but which is good for the sport." While I respect Will's earnestness here, the bitter-tasting upshot is that USAU may attempt to FORCE growth & affiliation through drawing lines in the sand with youth programming - where the stakes are highest for kids & parents - instead of engaging in mutual discussions with local orgs on how to achieve the same ends.
So, with all that context, my question to the BoD Candidates is this: 
What strategies can/should USAU consider to partner more closely with local leagues & organizations, without threatening access/participation for youth players in USAU's most popular events? Can USAU work on clarifying the "carrot" before using the "stick"? - Tim T. Smith
Tyler Kinley: As a player representative for the past 4 years, I've been at the December meetings where issues like this one specifically have been brought up and discussed, and the first thing I always come away with is that there are a lot of smart people attending these meetings that feel the way you do, and I think it would behoove USAU to reach out to, and talk with, these people (like yourself, in fact), in order to best udnerstand how the situations can be a win-win for both sides. This would be my first, immediate step, because it would establish a better relationship based on mutual listening and hopefully a gained trust on both sides that there are shared goals and a common path forward.
Josh Seamon: In addition to Tyler’s excellent points about bringing experts together to build trust and find win-win solutions, I would also say that USAU needs to make sure it always remembers that each local league and organization is different. While there are certainly many similarities between entities, challenges can arise when a one-size-fits-all model is applied too broadly. USAU should engage even more actively in pro-active engagement with local leagues, organizations, and experts when considering implementation of major changes. Ideas should be floated an enormous amount of time in advance, so feedback and ideas can be gathered and pressed into optimizing shifts, and also so that notice about upcoming changes can be spread long in advance. 
USAU can absolutely work on clarifying the "carrot" before using the "stick". Sometimes so many good intentions are lost in translation when changes are made too quickly and without enough feedback or beta testing from the community. Amazing ideas can be found all over the place, especially inside our amazing community. We should make sure more of them are found.

Q: What will you as a board member do to ovehaul UASU's abysmal web site and roster/registration process? 
Why can't a parent create an account and register and manage all their children, rather than needing a separate email for each one? How do we expect to be taken seriously as a national sport when we make it so difficult for players, parents, and coaches to manage teams and rosters online? The USAU staff are incredibly helpful and responsive, but the technology is an absolute mess.
Why when a youth player is added to a roster, do they then need to respond to an email to accept their spot on that roster? We all know kids literally don't check email, so how can we have a process which requires them to do so?
My vote will go the candidate who appears most committed to a major overhaul of USAU's IT infrastructure, and who presents at least a high-level plan of how to get us moving in that direction. - Alex Pozzy
Tyler Kinley: Honestly, one of my first questions will be regarding the website. It's hard to find an issue that unites players, but this seems to be one of them! I am no web guru but I also have to think there is some reason that this hasn't happened yet. And, I plan to ask, and to push for a change at the earliest feasible time.
Josh Seamon: As someone who uses the system on a regular basis, for small and large groups, I share in your frustration. Absolutely. The intentions were certainly good in building the newest version of the site -- The old site, while smooth in some ways, was literally about the fall apart and had no ability to scale, among other terminal issues. That being said, the current incarnation of the site was built to do too many things all in the same way for everyone, when much more granularization of the user experiences needs to happen. 
As a board member, I will continue my push to allocate as many resources and as much funding as possible to make the site run right. The first step on the path to having a smoother website is USAU hiring a full-time web applications developer to take over operations of all levels of website -- Something that’s being done right now
I will also make sure I continue to regularly bring up the issue and push it to stay at the top of the priorities list.

Q: After a recent spate of avoidable injuries, there has been a drive in South-East Asia that has since spread globally to raise awareness of personal responsibility and promote safe play (ref: https://www.facebook.com/mattpan32/posts/10155998331761614).
This is certainly not an unfamiliar occurrence in the USA, and with the prominence of US ultimate and rule differences compared to WFDF (e.g. "I got the disc first") often coming up in discussion, one could argue that as role models it is especially important for the US community to get this right.
What are your aims for ensuring that USA Ultimate is a safe sport for all to play? - Joshua Ringer
Tyler Kinley: I am a very strong proponent of fair, safe play, and have also very aware of the egregious bad bids in the last years. This is not necessarily new, but I do believe that observers must be better trained to punish bad bids earlier in games with more severe penalties so that there is a real deterrent. At present the punishments are weak and ineffectual in deterring behavior that is going to, and has, caused severe injury. I will be making this a priority as a board member.

Q: Kyle Weisbrod submitted these questions to us via email: 1. Do you support the current USAU BoD Policy that prevents board members from sharing their past votes on Board resolutions? Would you work to end this policy?
2. Do you feel that the USAU Board of Directors currently understands the interests of the ultimate community?
3. As a Board Member how will you define and determine the "interests of the ultimate community"?
4. Based on your understanding of what it means to be a member-based non-profit, how much input should USAU members have in decision making?
5. How will you communicate with the membership during your time on the board?
Josh Seamon: Answer (1) I believe how each board member votes should be a matter of public record, once the policy is changed. I do not believe it should be retroactive. I will be continuing my work to make it policy to publicly list how each board member votes.
Answer (2) Yes. As a group we have spent an enormous amount of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears inside the ultimate community. Being built by the ultimate community. Additionally, we have a sea of data collected through many surveys and town halls with more coming in. We have broad, ongoing personal experience within the ultimate community, and hard data. So yes, we understand the interests of the ultimate community. That being said, we can always, always, always understand the community at an even deeper level. That’s why the conversations continue and why we continue to collect data. 
Answer (3) By leveraging personal experience inside the world of ultimate and combining that with hard data collected through things like the Vision Tour, and pressing it out into a coherent definition and path in a strategic plan. Defining and determining the interests of the ultimate community must be done in a thoughtful, thorough, and meticulous manner.
Answer (4) Which decisions are you referring to? HQ-level? Board-level? Affiliate-level? SBO-level? All levels? In general, as much input should be collected as possible from impacted constituents and experts in the membership before major decisions are made. That being said, the operations of the staff and board need to keep moving and it’s not always possible to collect as much feedback and input as some of the membership would like before moving forward. 
Answer (5)
*In person at events
*Over the phone

Q: Would you consider repurposing SBO funds to employ regional representatives who would sell "Ultimate" as a leadership development tool to school districts and large youth organizations? - Christopher L. Pereira
Josh Seamon: Thanks for your question Christopher! What you bring up is an excellent method of outreach! USAU has seen great success in such endeavors, like through attending the SHAPE conference each spring. I see SBOs as being in a perfect position to dial deeply into this kind of outreach. SBOs know their regions well and how to most effectively employ this kind of outreach. If they don’t, then they need to pull in the right people to perform this kind of outreach.