About the Archives: a Message from USA Ultimate

Posted: January 7, 2013 11:54 AM

In the years after the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) was formed in 1979, there was no internet or personal computing as we know it, so it is fair to say that most things were done on paper.  The UPA had no permanent headquarters office yet, so all of the materials to run the organization and other historically relevant materials resided with various UPA volunteers and ultimate players.  
In fact, when Tom "TK" Kennedy passed on the reigns to Brian "Murph" Murphy in 1982, "the UPA" fit in a shoebox.  According to Mr. Murphy: "Tom Kennedy ran this thing out of a shoebox in his spare bedroom in his bungalow in Santa Barbara and handed me the shoebox in 1982 and said here you go." [full story]
As the organization grew, and it was no longer practical (nor prudent) for UPA volunteers to pass down these historical documents in this manner - the archives needed permanent storage.  John Caporali came to the rescue in 1988 and was able to offer to house the archives through his connection with the library at Penn State.
As announced in the October 1988 UPA Newsletter, the UPA established its archive and named John archivist.  Newsletter after newsletter included calls for donations of memorabilia, discs, shirts, programs, research papers, photographs, media articles and videotapes.  John oversaw the growing collection as people mailed in their dusty boxes.  He was listed in that role as late as the September 1995 UPA Newsletter.  Fast forward a few years, and as happens to many ultimate players in time, life got in the way and he and the UPA lost touch with each other. 
In 2000, Joey Gray took on the role of UPA Executive Director.  Gray, with a background in Library Science, made it one of her missions to track down these materials.  With the help of Dan "Stork" Roddick, they tracked down his email address and received a response indicating he was residing in Sharon, PA.  After further attempts at emailing Mr. Caporali met with no response, Ms. Gray decided it was time for a field trip to try to locate John and put the archives issue to rest.  So, she adjusted her travel plans to the 2001 College Championships by two days and embarked on the adventure.  
As detailed in her article in the 2002 Spring UPA Newsletter (not yet available online), she tracked down his home address from a staffer at Penn State campus.  Ms. Gray was able to meet with Mr. Caporali and learned that the archives had been preserved.  Although no longer associated with the Penn State library, John led them to a gym closet on campus where the archives sat alongside basketballs and volleyball nets.  The next morning, Joey packed the rental car full of materials and shipped them back to headquarters in time to make a plane ride to Boston for the 2001 College Championships.
Wrote Ms. Gray at the time: "What's next?  As usual with archive collections, there is a huge difference between housing it, and having the resources to make it available."  Although she understood and outlined the steps it would take to inventory, digitize, index, and make it all available, the required staff time and budgetary implications placed this project on the back burner.  For years the archives remained in storage: some at a local brewery warehouse, others stacking up in corners of UPA headquarters.
With the increasing concern that the videotapes were deteriorating, the UPA (now USA Ultimate) set aside room in the budget to digitize the old videos in 2011, and began scanning select UPA Newsletters for online viewing.  Beyond that, all that was publicly available was a rough, and often incomplete, listing of the finals standings of championship events.  A new, scalable website structure was needed to better house and make publicly available these materials...which brings us to today.
USA Ultimate has just begun the first year of its 6 year strategic plan, which will culminate during the sport's 50th anniversary, 2018.  As we build towards our 50th anniversary, USA Ultimate is proud to unveil the online UPA / USA Ultimate archives.  
These pages serve as a skeleton to house information regarding our past championship events and the history of our organization.  In addition to being able to see the past UPA College rankings, also available are: more complete event final standings, event dates/locations, and event logos.  There are also opportunities to interact in the comments within each of the year and division pages.  With our new channel on YouTube, there is now a great platform for our video holdings which we can embed and make available for everyone to enjoy.  In time, the remaining UPA Newsletters/Magazines, select photos, and other materials will be added to these pages.
How this resource grows is largely dependent upon the further involvement of the ultimate community:
  • Does your attic still have some dusty boxes of ultimate archives?  It would be a shame if important moments ultimate history (especially old videos from the 70s, 80s, or 90s) were not preserved.  Please consider gifting them to our archives so we can digitize them.
  • Have a great story to tell from your experiences?  Are you an aspiring great who wants to cover a moment in our history?  Please send story ideas or submissions for potential feature articles to be published on our website or in our magazine.
  • Do you have library science experience and/or an interest in ultimate history?  Please consider volunteering to help with this project.
We hope you enjoy our organization's online archives and find them to be useful.  If you have any questions/concerns/suggestions, please direct them to archives@usaultimate.org.