Colorado Springs, Colo. (April 25, 2019)—Earlier this week, USA Ultimate offered 94 teams from 42 different local disc organizations bids to the 2019 Youth Club Championships at the U.S. Open, including 13 first-time teams. 

Of the 110 applicants, 16 teams were placed on prioritized waitlists should additional space become available in the five competitive divisions.

The 16 teams that are on the waitlist come from several organizations, including DiscNW, Connecticut Ultimate, Triangle Ultimate (N.C.) and communities in Maryland, Tennessee and Canada. 

Given DiscNW’s attendance and success at previous Youth Club Championships, their absence in several divisions has generated some questions and comments. There has been discussion and speculation online regarding the reasons for DiscNW only receiving one bid for their U-17 girls team*, as well as USA Ultimate’s priority guidelines and affiliate program. Much of which is inaccurate.  

In order to correct some of the misinformation that is circulating online and provide some additional context on the affiliate program, bid priority and guidelines, USA Ultimate is providing this clarification.

The demand to compete in the sport’s premier national-level youth tournament continues to grow each year. To manage that demand, USA Ultimate implemented a revised set of priority guidelines in 2018. 

Of the 94 bids that were offered this year, 42 went to unaffiliated organizations, including BADA, BUDA, DiscNW, CUPA, DEVYL, DUA, PADA, and WAFC among others. 

Being an affiliate of USA Ultimate is not a requirement to participate at YCC. In fact, the implementation of the new priority guidelines in 2018 deprioritized solely being an affiliate relative to previous years, relegating it from being the first criteria used for cutoff to the fourth. In many cases, unaffiliated organizations who were administering USA Ultimate-sanctioned youth programs were prioritized over affiliates which where not. 

The intent behind the priority guidelines is to encourage local disc organizations to provide as many high-quality playing opportunities as possible in a safe environment. 

As a national governing body of amateur sport in the U.S. and youth-serving sports organization, USA Ultimate is required by federal law to maintain certain standards of safety as outlined in the Protecting Young Victims of Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act (2017). Additionally, USA Ultimate follows the guidelines of the U.S. Center for SafeSport to further protect children who play ultimate.

The sport of ultimate and USA Ultimate are not immune to the issues that are affecting other youth sports organizations as evidenced by the multiple cases of abuse that are investigated and adjudicated each year in our sport. Safety of youth players is, and will continue to be, a top priority. 

With an emphasis on safety (via its sanctioning requirements), USA Ultimate adheres to the criteria outlined in the youth guidelines when determining the rank order by which teams receive bids to YCC. Briefly, those ask the following questions:

  1. Did the state offer a USA Ultimate High School State Championship?
  2. Did the organization run a USA Ultimate-sanctioned youth club league?
  3. Did the organization run a USA Ultimate-sanctioned school-based league?
  4. Is the organization a USA Ultimate affiliate or state-based organization (SBO)?

USA Ultimate sanctioning is critical to ensuring coaches and chaperones have passed the requisite background checks and have SafeSport training (in addition to Spirit of the Game and rules training). If leagues are not sanctioned, USA Ultimate cannot verify that the appropriate safety protocols – either those required by federal law or SafeSport guidelines – are being met.

The guidelines and priority criteria also help to create standard, fair and transparent qualification procedures that stimulate growth by allowing new and developing programs a path to participate in the youth division’s marquee event. 

This has led to 13 new teams participating in both the 2018 and 2019 editions of YCC. It also contributes to the 62% growth USA Ultimate has seen in the number of disc organizations sending teams to YCC over the last six years (26 in 2014 vs. 42 in 2019). Each of those teams represent not just a few hundred new kids playing at YCC, but thousands of young athletes playing locally in communities across the country.

Finally, USA Ultimate’s affiliate program is an integral piece in the continued development of a national infrastructure for our sport, which creates more and higher quality playing opportunities in local communities across the country. In turn, affiliate and other memberships help support other important USA Ultimate programs, including equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives; outreach efforts; coaching education; rules, Spirit of the Game, and observer development; media; national teams; scholarships; grants and more.

We understand the disappointment felt by all teams and local disc organizations, including athletes, coaches and parents, who did not receive initial invitations to this year’s tournament. Despite not being able to accommodate all teams that apply, we are extremely excited to welcome both the elite and youth ultimate communities to Minnesota for what is sure to be another great U.S. Open – and largest YCC – to date. We also look forward to continuing to collaborate with local communities and disc organizations around the country to grow youth ultimate. 

*As of Monday, April 29, DiscNW has also been offered a bid in the U-20 mixed division.