Youth Guidelines Updates, SafeSport Requirements, Volunteer Positions Discussed

Colorado Springs, Colo. (February 26, 2020) – USA Ultimate’s Competition Working Group met in Denver in early December for its annual meeting to discuss various aspects of the sport’s competition structure across its five primary divisions – youth, college, club, masters and beach. The meeting included 10 USA Ultimate staff members and 29 key volunteers, including national and regional directors, two members of the board of directors and representatives from several of USA Ultimate’s state-based organizations. 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 masters and beach updates. The college update is still to come.

The youth competition working group consists of USA Ultimate Manager of Competition and National Team Programs – Youth Joy Ferenbaugh and four regional youth directors: Fran Kelley (Central), Tulsa Douglas (Northeast), Jamie Wolf (South) and Jonathan Nethercutt (West). The group also received input from Sam Callan (Manager of Youth & Education Programs), Christie Lawry (former Northeast Regional Youth Director) and Jimmy Donnellon (Colorado Ultimate representative).

2019CWG Youth Rotator
2019 Youth Working Group
L-R: Lawry, Kelley, Ferenbaugh, Douglas, Donnellon, Wolf 
(Not Pictured: Jonathan Nethercutt and Sam Callan)

The majority of discussion time was centered on updates to the youth guidelines for the 2020 season. First, the 2020-21 Rules of Ultimate list new youth play recommendations in place for middle school, U-12 and U-15 players. Some of the adaptations include disallowing foot blocks and defensive layouts, shortening the field size and length, and lowering the game total. The group will collect feedback on these recommendations through this Google Form. Second, in addition to all coaches having coach memberships, SafeSport training and completed USAU background checks, teams attending High School State Championships must ensure one of their coaches is certified (middle school or high school). Third, the deadline to submit completed rosters for Middle School and High School State Championships has been moved back to one week prior to the event. This decision was made to allow Tournament Directors more time to make sure teams are compliant with the requirements. 

In addition to the updates, a significant point of emphasis was the role of chaperones and certified coaches for youth teams at the U.S. Open Club Championships. Any adult acting as a chaperone or as the certified coach for a YCC team cannot compete in ICC. If an adult wants to compete in ICC and also assist their YCC team, they should not be listed as a certified coach or chaperone. They can, however, be listed as an assistant coach as long as they fulfill the coaching requirements.

SafeSport requirements were also revisited in discussions amongst the youth competition working group. Moving forward, in addition to youth coaches and chaperones, all regional youth directors, state youth coordinators and tournament directors for youth events will be required to complete SafeSport training and pass the test, earning them a certificate and an active SafeSport status for one year. The group also discussed getting further clarity on how the language of the federal law (Safe Sport Authorization Act) applies to youth teams with rosters consisting of players both over and under 18 years of age.

The group then moved on to discussing updates to youth volunteer positions before closing out the meeting with a discussion on what was to come in 2021. Both the SYC and RYD packets have been updated, along with the High School and Middle School State Championships Tournament Director Handbook. 

Coming in 2021 are new requirements for youth coaches and for organizations submitting bids for YCC. Currently, all youth teams must have at least one certified coach, but their certification could be either high school or middle school. Starting in 2021, that will no longer be the case. U-20, U-17 and high school coaches looking to become certified will have to obtain High School certification, while all U-15, U-12 and middle school coaches will have to obtain Middle School certification. The number of required certified coaches will still remain one per team for the time being. Also, if organizations applying for YCC bids have outstanding events open from the previous year – events that have never been closed out with USAU due to unfulfilled registration or roster requirements – their bid will not be considered during Phase 1. 

Stay tuned to for more updates from the 2019 Competition Working Group meeting. 

2019 Competition Working Group