youth-hero

Equity, Diversity
& Inclusion

USA Ultimate values the contributions and perspectives that a truly diverse community provides our sport and its culture. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are critical to the integrity of our sport, and USA Ultimate is committed to increasing access to and participation in the sport, particularly amongst youth in underrepresented communities.


USA Ultimate Inclusion Statement
1

Increasing participation of underrepresented racial, ethnic and socioeconomic populations.

Why is it important?

We believe the sport and the community of ultimate should reflect the population of the entire United States. Black, Indigenous and people of color athletes, as well as athletes from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, should be equitably represented within our community.

How We’re Doing It.

  • Lowering barriers to entry
  • Creating accessible and equitable playing opportunities
  • Increasing visibility of historically underrepresented populations

What we’ve done so far…

Created Community Development Grants

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Our Community Development Grants provide financial support and resources for local disc organizations who run programs prioritizing racially and ethnically underrepresented and/or low-income youth.

Supporting Grassroots EDI Programs and Initiatives

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Since 2019, we have collaborated with AFDC: Project Diversity to support their Color of Ultimate events – showcase games featuring two teams of elite players of color designed to help raise awareness about the current racial and socioeconomic inequities in ultimate.

 

Photo – Ryan Cameron

Provided EDI Considerations Regarding Return to Play

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With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating societal inequities underserved communities regularly endure, we provided information detailing areas where players from these communities could face potential challenges. We encouraged coaches and organizers to address these barriers in order to promote an inclusive return to play.

Sharing Stories from BIPOC Members of our Community

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We have published two – and look forward to publishing more – feature stories highlighting some of ultimate’s prominent players of color in an effort to bring attention to their diverse experiences and enhance the visibility of such players.

 

The first all-Black ultimate team

 

Jesse and Khalif of national champion Seattle Mixtape

Developed an Internal EDI Team

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Led by two internal staff co-chairs and an external consultant, with active participation of 75% of USAU staff, our EDI Team is dedicated to managing and implementing our EDI initiatives and programs.

What You Can Do.

  1. Support AFDC: Project Diversity and other grassroots organizations working to bring ultimate to communities of color.
  2. Work with your local ultimate organization to understand local demographics and support outreach efforts to underrepresented communities.
  3. Share your story about your experiences in ultimate with the larger community.
  4. Subscribe to the EDI Newsletter for updates on USA Ultimate’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.
2

Lowering financial barriers to participation in ultimate.

Why is it important?

We believe financial constraints should not impede participation in the sport of ultimate at any level.

How We’re Doing It.

  • Offering membership and event scholarships
  • Raising money and awareness through fundraising campaigns

What we’ve done so far…

Established Delrico Johnson Fund for BIPOC.

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In 2019, D.C. Truck Stop’s Delrico “Rico” Johnson organized a fundraiser to support players of color attending tryouts for the U-24 National Team. Inspired by Rico’s initiative, we’re amplifying the call to contribute to this fundraiser and broadening its impact to support memberships for players of color at all levels.

Supporting Underserved Youth via Play It Forward

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The Play It Forward program provides membership and financial assistance for youth from underserved and underrepresented communities to give them the opportunity to experience ultimate.

Fundraising and Building Awareness Through The Ultimate Foundation

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The Ultimate Foundation hosts annual fundraising campaigns encouraging donations to support new and established youth development programs utilizing ultimate to build character and strengthen community.

What You Can Do.

  1. Donate to the Ultimate Foundation to support initiatives like Play It Forward and the Delrico Johnson Fund.
  2. Participate in the Ultimate Foundation’s Signature Series campaign and other annual fundraising events.
3

Increasing participation of women and LGBTQIA+ ultimate athletes.

Why is it important?

Ultimate has long been a heterosexual, male-dominated sport. We believe women and LGBTQIA+ players should be actively and equitably represented within our community.

How We’re Doing It.

  • Increasing visibility of women and LGBTQIA+ ultimate players and coaches
  • Working to increase participation of women and LGBTQIA+ populations in the ultimate community
  • Providing resources and funding via the Girls’ Ultimate Movement (GUM)

What we’ve done so far…

Developed a New Gender Inclusion Policy

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In December 2020, USA Ultimate announced the unanimous passing of its new Gender Inclusion Policy! After a year of undergoing research and revisions by our EDI co-chairs and Community Liaison Volunteers*, this new, inclusive policy advocates for the ability of all athletes to participate in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their indicated gender identity.

 

*USA Ultimate’s Community Liaison Volunteers are paid volunteers who identify across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and who we work with to address and examine policies and practices that impact them and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Sharing Pronouns

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In an effort to begin to normalize the conversation around pronouns and leveraging input from ultimate athletes and coaches of the LGBTQIA+ community, we implemented the publishing of pronouns for players and coaches in our printed event guides. We also created an optional pronoun field in the member system for members to indicate and share their pronouns.

Collaborated with Without Limits to Publish New Resources Manual

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In collaboration with Without Limits and GUM, the High School Girls’ Ultimate Resources Manual – catered to anyone involved with a high school girls’ program – features articles and resources from some of the most knowledgeable individuals in ultimate and some of GUM’s biggest advocates and allies of GUM.

Sharing Stories of Girls and Women in Ultimate via the GUM Blog

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The GUM Blog features voices and perspectives of girls and women in the ultimate community to empower girls and help them connect to a shared experience.

Building Community at our Annual GUM Ball

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Annually held at the U.S. Open Club Championships, the GUM Ball brings together girls, women, non-binary folks and more from across the adult and youth divisions to break down barriers and build long-lasting friendships among people who might otherwise never cross paths.

Developing and Supporting New High School Girls’ Teams

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Modeled after the College Women’s Startup Project, GUM’s Girls’ Team Startup Project is a community-wide outreach program that provides support for participating high schools for up to three years to help them develop into competitive and self-sustaining girls’ ultimate teams.

Supporting New U-20 Girls’ Teams via the Girls’ Developmental Scholarship

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The goal of the Girls’ Developmental Scholarship, supported and provided by GUM, is to give new or developing U-20 girls’ club teams the funding to succeed as a team and participate at the Youth Club Championships (YCC) in order to ultimately help grow the girls’ division.

Developing and Supporting New College Women’s Teams

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The College Women’s Startup Project was launched in 2017 to help foster the growth of college women’s ultimate by incentivizing the creation of teams and facilitating the development of new women’s programs. The initiative provides some of the resources needed most by developing college teams.

What You Can Do.

  1. Donate to the Girls’ Ultimate Movement (GUM).
  2. Contribute a GUM blog and share your story about your experiences in ultimate with the larger community.
  3. Share your pronouns to normalize the practice and encourage more inclusive dialogue.
  4. Organize a GUM clinic in your community.
  5. Coach or help organize a girls’ team.
4

Providing resources to help create inclusive team environments.

Why is it important?

We believe, for our sport to better reflect the general population, it is essential to help create an environment where players can participate in ultimate fully as their authentic selves, without having to compromise any aspect of their identity.

How We’re Doing It.

  • Providing resources to coaches and organizers on how to build inclusive teams and organizations
  • Creating space for cultural competency discussions to encourage more inclusive dialogue on and off the field
  • Gathering and sharing EDI resources from external channels

What we’ve done so far…

Partnering with US Lacrosse

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After inviting US Lacrosse Director of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Eboni Preston-Laurent to speak at our 2020 Coach and Organizer Convention, we continued to work with her to adapt and share with the ultimate community some of US Lacrosse’s Diversity & Inclusion resources.

Hosted Webinar on Creating an Inclusive Team Environment

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In April 2020, we broadcasted a free webinar featuring a panel of coaches providing insight on how to create an inclusive team environment. The discussion covered a variety of important topics, including key qualities to look for in an inclusive coach and the importance of recruiting coaches from underrepresented communities.

Hosting EDI Discussions at Coach and Organizer Convention

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At the 2020 convention, we hosted a panel discussion on how local organizations can best engage youth from underserved communities and work with coaches to create an inclusive team environment. At future conventions, we will feature different affiliate organizations presenting on the work they’ve done serving underrepresented youth.

Facilitating Player-Driven Equity and Diversity Forums

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At our D-I College Championships and U.S. Open Club Championships, we have hosted and supported equity and diversity forums featuring panels of youth, college and club players sharing their experiences with these issues on and off the field. Topics of discussion have included racial and gender equity, as well as the intersection of implicit bias and microaggressions in ultimate.

Updated Inclusion Section of Coaching Manuals

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Recognizing that coaches set an important example, the inclusion sections of the certified coaching manuals and the coach facilitator’s manual were reviewed and revised to allow coaches to lead the way for ultimate players everywhere.

What You Can Do.

  1. Participate on or attend EDI panel discussions, webinars and forums.
  2. Examine resources on creating inclusive environments and commit to continued learning.
  3. Lead a team discussion on the ways in which your team is inclusive and/or may be unintentionally creating an exclusive atmosphere.
5

Decreasing avenues in which bias can affect Spirit of the Game.

Why is it important?

Spirit of the Game is one of our sport’s founding principles but provides a significant inroad for bias; we believe we must work to eliminate these inroads for the sport to be true to its ideal of mutual respect among competitors.

How We’re Doing It.

  • Encouraging team discussions on explicit and implicit bias
  • Reevaluating the definition of “good spirit” across different demographics
  • Updating our SOTG resources to counteract the inroads of bias

What we’ve done so far…

Provided Guidance on Intersection of EDI and Spirit of the Game

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While Spirit of the Game (SOTG) is one of the great aspects of ultimate, we’ve recognized how it can also be an inroad for bias. Along with reevaluating and modifying our SOTG resources, we have encouraged all teams to discuss how implicit biases impact our interpretations of the actions of others (e.g. when deciding spirit scores), to examine their expectations of “mutual respect among competitors” to be more inclusive, and to use SOTG practices and procedures in place as a means for enhancing understanding of cultural differences.

Revised Spirit Score Sheet and Spirit Captain’s Packet to Reduce Bias (TBA)

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We have acknowledged that Spirit of the Game, in its current form, can be an inroad to bias, significantly impacting underrepresented members of our community and their experience in ultimate, on and off the field. That acknowledgment led to the review and extensive revision of the spirit score sheet and the spirit captains’ packet. Both are currently being reviewed by external committees.

What You Can Do.

  1. Remain objective and consider personal biases when filling out the Spirit Score Sheet.
  2. Become a Spirit Captain for your team.
  3. Complete and discuss the Team Culture Spirit Self-Assessment as a team and with opposing teams.
  4. Practice offering constructive criticism and discussing areas for improvement in Spirit Circles.

Resources

EDI

Best practices for diversity and inclusion, courtesy of US Lacrosse.

Last Modified: 2020-08-18 21:48:28
Coaching

A list of strategies for how to respond when hearing anti-LGBTQIA+ comments and encourage a safe and welcoming environment.

Last Modified: 2020-08-20 22:17:42
EDI

US Lacrosse has designed a free online training tool to help further educate coaches, parents and athletes about the impact of diversity and inclusion. Just create a US Lacrosse account, and you can take the course for free.

Coaching

This article highlights challenges Chris Lehmann and his high school team, comprised predominantly of players of color, frequently face and raises questions about what can be done to build a more inclusive ultimate community.

Coaching

An online curriculum on LGBTQ inclusion in athletics. Create an Athlete Ally account and you can take the course for free.

Coaching

13 tips on how to help youth understand diversity and inclusion in society.