Playing Opportunities, Beach National Team Structure, Beach-Specific Rules Discussed

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Jan. 31, 2019) – USA Ultimate’s Competition Working Group met in Denver last month for its annual meeting to discuss various aspects of the sport’s competition structure across all age divisions – youth, college, club and beach – as well as outreach. The meeting included 10 USA Ultimate staff members, two members of the board of directors and 24 key volunteers and was held over two days. Following the meeting, we are releasing summaries of each smaller group’s discussion. The club division recap was released late last month, followed by the youth competition and outreach updates. The college update is still to come.  

The beach working group consists of USA Ultimate Manager of Events and beach division manager David Raflo, USA Ultimate Manager of Events and outgoing beach manager Byron Hicks, Great Lakes Regional Beach Director Becky LeDonne, incoming West Coast Regional Beach Director and California Ultimate Executive Director Grant Boyd and Gulf Coast Regional Beach Director Sean McCall. McCall joined the group remotely. Boyd officially became the West Coach Regional Beach Director in early 2019, taking over for outgoing regional director Keegan Uhl, who served in the role for several years. The East Coast Regional Director position is currently vacant after longtime volunteer Kimberly Beach elected to step away from the role. 

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2018 Beach Working GroupL-R: Hicks, Boyd, LeDonne, Raflo
(Not Pictured: Sean McCall)

The beach working group spent much of their time discussing the beach division guidelines, brainstorming how to encourage additional playing opportunities and clarifying beach-specific competition rules. Beginning in 2019, the beach division guidelines will include bid priority to local organizations that offer beach/sand playing opportunities. The new priority structure will both reward organizations already offering those opportunities and incentivize the introduction of opportunities in other areas. This year’s guidelines also include an expansion of past roster limits, allowing two more rostered players per team at beach division events. The increased roster size will make it easier for more athletes to compete in the beach division, without the necessity of forming an entirely new team. 

In discussions about beach-specific rules, the working group committed to the use of the USA Ultimate 11th Edition Rules, with several modifications for beach play. The modifications include field size, number of timeouts, halftime duration and a ban on wearing shoes and cleats during competition. The group also decided to use the genzone rule, which designates the end zone that will determine the gender ratio for the point, in mixed division competition. Four v. four and five v. five competition were also discussed, with the group committing to continue to explore possibilities and options for the future.

Historically, the U.S. National Teams that compete at the World Championships of Beach Ultimate have been selected by team managers who review applications and determine their rosters in collaboration with USA Ultimate staff. Beginning with teams that will attend the 2021 World Championships of Beach Ultimate, those interested competing on the men’s, mixed and women’s teams will take part in a tryout process, similar to the steps taken by other National Teams. Coaches for the men’s mixed and women’s teams will be selected by the USA Ultimate Coaching Committee, also the same process undertaken for other National Teams. The application and selection process for the masters and grand masters Beach National Teams will remain unchanged from previous cycles. 

More details are available in the 2019 Beach Division Guidelines, which are now available. In addition, phase one applications for the 2019 Beach Championships are open. Applications should be completed by Friday, February 15. 

Stay tuned to for more summaries from the 2018 Competition Working Group meeting. The college recap is up next.  

2018 Competition Working Group