San Diego, Calif. (October 18, 2023)—After nearly a year of work, including the collection and analysis of feedback from USA Ultimate members and the greater ultimate community, the national governing body for the sport of ultimate in the United States unveiled today its 2024-26 Strategic Plan – a three year roadmap for the future of ultimate in America.
Anchored by a pair of guiding principles – Grow the Base and Connect the Community – the plan outlines four major strategic priorities for the organization over the next three years: elevate youth and grassroots ultimate, enhance local disc organization success, promote excitement for ultimate and USA Ultimate, and fuel the future.
The process to develop the plan featured a series of focus group discussions with many of the sport’s key stakeholders and community members. Input was gathered on a variety of topics, including USA Ultimate’s relationship with local disc organizations; youth development and grassroots growth; semi-pro leagues; elite athlete pipelines; diversity, equity and inclusion; marketing and business activity and more. Following those meetings, both a nationwide survey and a virtual town hall meeting were conducted as the ultimate community was invited to provide additional feedback. Collectively, the thoughts and perspective shared by ultimate’s various constituents – including players, coaches, organizers, local disc associations, parents, fans, educators, media and business partners, and more – were thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluated by USA Ultimate’s strategic planning advisory group and independent external consultant, Wilson Consulting. The final plan was proposed to the USA Ultimate Board of Directors in June and passed by unanimous vote.
“This new strategic plan represents our best efforts to synthesize a huge volume of experience, knowledge and inspiration into a roadmap that outlines clear priorities for USA Ultimate,” said strategic planning advisory group co-chair Ben Van Heuvelen. “We designed a process that aimed to ensure both depth and breadth of community feedback while the committee itself included a wide range of members – including players, coaches on many levels, staff and board members, leaders of local disc organizations and parents. We created opportunities to engage deeply with many of our most involved stakeholders and asked the community at large to contribute ideas and validate our preliminary findings.
“Perhaps the single biggest takeaway is a renewed focus on youth,” continued Van Heuvelen. “Although youth growth was a goal of the previous plan, the new version identifies this as a top priority to receive increased resources and attention. The plan also recognizes that supporting youth and grassroots growth requires not just efforts and programs at the NGB level, but also effective and mutually beneficial partnerships with local organizations. Accordingly, the new plan lays out two broad thematic aspirations – to ‘grow the base’ and ‘connect the community’ – and sets both an aggressive course and viable goals that we can use to measure success.
“I’m grateful for the passion and insight of the strategic planning committee and the thousands of community members who contributed to this process.”
USA Ultimate’s strategic plan is steered first and foremost by its two guiding principles with each of the organization’s four newly identified priorities defined by a primary goal. The plan then outlines various strategies aimed at accomplishing those goals.
“We’re excited to provide more resources, training and support to empower local disc organizations to grow the sport, especially at the youth levels,” added USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Dave Klink. “Our vision is for the vast majority of ultimate to be run locally and supported nationally, with a smaller percentage being run nationally and supported locally. We hope to achieve this goal not by scaling back our programming but by better helping local organizations to collectively expand exponentially faster.”
USA Ultimate’s new strategic plan is the organization’s first since the 2019-21 plan was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And although the plan doesn’t take effect until next year, USA Ultimate is already positioning itself to execute against it by laying the foundation now.
“We are already aggressively attacking this exciting new plan with several key hires, a staff reorganization and technology investments,” explained strategic planning advisory group co-chair and USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford. “We are fortunate to have very quickly recovered from the COVID challenges and the sport is back on a very exciting track.”