New Coaching Requirements, Youth Fall Cup Changes, Youth Task Force Discussed

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Jan. 9, 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. The college, beach and outreach updates will follow. 

The youth competition working group consists of USA Ultimate Manager of Competition and Athlete Programs – Youth Joy Ferenbaugh and four regional youth directors: Fran Kelley (Central), Christie Lawry (Northeast), Jon Nethercutt (South) and Ben Snell (West). The group also received input from Grant Boyd, executive director of California Ultimate.

2018 Youth Working Group
L-R: Ferenbaugh, Kelley, Snell, Nethercutt, Lawry, Boyd

After two years of USA Ultimate’s new Youth Fall Cup structure, which aims to create more regional-level competition opportunities for any interested youth teams, the youth competition working group decided to shift more of the events’ organization to local organizing committees (LOCs). Going forward, Youth Fall Cup events will be run more directly by State-Based Organization and Affiliates, based on USA Ultimate guidelines. The LOCs will have more autonomy in setting costs and determining which amenities to provide, expanding the opportunity for events to attract newer, younger teams, particularly in the U-15 age division. The shift will allow LOCs to better tailor their events to teams in their area and make the Youth Fall Cup more appealing to a diverse range of youth teams. 

Changes are coming to the Coaching Development Program and coach certifications. Current Ethics and Level I Certifications will be honored for all coaches until they expire. Once current certifications expire, coaches will be required to follow the new certification process. In the new structure, coaches will be able to certify for middle school, high school, and college/club levels, with each certification costing $35. More details about the new coach certification process will be available in the coming months. 

SafeSport requirements were a point of emphasis in discussions amongst the youth competition group. As a reminder, coaches and chaperones are required to have a current green-light NCSI background check and a SafeSport training certificate on file with USA Ultimate before serving in their respective roles for youth teams. Chaperones must also meet all USA Ultimate age requirements and have a current, signed USA Ultimate waiver. Coaches must also have a current coach-level USA Ultimate membership, as well as take the CDC’s online concussion training course and pass the coach training quiz. These guidelines were also in place for 2018, a result of Congress passing the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act of 2017, which became federal law last year.

The youth competition working group also agreed upon one additional coaching requirement which prohibits players who are still in high school from coaching any team at the student’s same school. The new addition to the guidelines is another part of efforts to protect youth athletes and follow SafeSport protocols.

The youth competition working group also discussed plans for the new Youth Task Force, set to meet for the first time in March. The group is comprised of the four regional youth directors, Joy Ferenbaugh, Managing Director of Competition and National Team Programs Will Deaver, members of the youth outreach and community development departments at USA Ultimate, and representatives from USA Ultimate’s State-Based Organizations. The group will also receive input from past youth competition managers and other national governing bodies of sport. Over the next two years, the Youth Task Force will aim to lay out five- and 10-year plans for youth ultimate, with eyes on continuing to make the sport more accessible and inclusive for youth around the nation. 

Stay tuned to for more updates from the 2018 Competition Working Group meeting. The youth outreach recap is up next. 

2018 Competition Working Group