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ARIA Updates

ARIA Ultimate: The Newest USAU and WFDF Championship-Level Disc!

ARIA Ultimate: The Newest USAU and WFDF Championship-Level Disc!

ARIA Ultimate discs are officially approved by USA Ultimate and the World Flying Disc Federation for the highest level of play

We are thrilled to announce that as of August 29, 2017, ARIA discs have been approved by USA Ultimate, the sport’s national governing body in the United States, as officially accepted for Championship level play. This is the highest distinction available for ultimate discs in the country, and because the World Flying Disc Federation - the international governing body for ultimate, among other disc sports - takes its disc approvals from USAU, the ARIA disc has also been approved for elite ultimate play worldwide.

ARIA Ultimate disc with Khalif el-salaam and Luke Jesperson Game of The Year

This means a number of things for ARIA Ultimate and the ultimate community as a whole. By receiving approval, the ARIA disc has demonstrated a level of quality suitable for all levels of play, including the highest levels of competitive ultimate. Championship-level discs can be used by teams at any level of the sport, from rec leagues to national or world championships and from the playground to the finals field. Through ARIA, the newest players joining our sport around the world will be able to use the exact same disc the highest level players in the game use, and that’s a remarkable thing.

Early adoption of ARIA Ultimate discs by top level teams

Several top level teams, including Seattle Mixtape - the 2017 US. Open Champions - have already added the disc to their roster. Many Mixtape players believe strongly in giving back to the sport through coaching local teams and other community-focused work, and a partnership with ARIA enables their support to go even further through ARIA’s 1 for 1 donation model.

 ARIA Ultimate disc with cleats on turf

ARIA seeks to connect the highest level of ultimate with our mission of growing the sport and propelling ultimate into the future. By earning championship-level approval from USAU, ARIA will further be able to strengthen this connection and continue to move towards a better world through ultimate at every level.

ARIA Ultimate disc autographed by professional ultimate players

Help us keep reaching - not only to the future of ultimate but towards social change and the spread of ultimate values worldwide. Check out our online store and see what the hype is all about!

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ARIA social partner - Youth Ultimate Project in Cambodia

ARIA social partner - Youth Ultimate Project in Cambodia

 

Remember when you first heard about "Ultimate" at summer camp?

Imagine, for a moment, your favorite summer camp memories. Perhaps it was capture the flag, fort building, arts and craft, or even your first ‘ultimate disc’ game. Whether it was a day camp or sleep-away, we generally harken back to the halcyon days of endless sunshine, good friends and good ol’ fashioned fun. For many, summer camp as a child is a given. It is an ingrained part of our society where we get to learn about the foundation of understanding, the expansion of empathy, and the direction of a moral compass.  

Boys and Girls are running around playing a coed game, chasing each other and appear very happy at ultimate camp.

ARIA Ultimate is dedicated to youth ultimate

ARIA believes in positive learning environments for kids, which is why we have partnered with Youth Ultimate Project in Phnom Penh in Cambodia to bring camp-like learning to groups of Cambodian children through the teachings of the sport of ultimate. We as ultimate players have a fondness for chasing plastic, and as the evolution of the disc has come from our hands, we want to share the gift of the game as well as its commitment to leadership, sportsmanship and a healthy lifestyle. As ARIA steps into its new role in Ultimate, we want to make sure that the values at the foundation of our sport are held paramount.


Both male and female team mates are united, standing in solidarity with their arms around each other.


Cambodia has had a colorful history over the last century, with ups and downs. Currently, there are many communities in the region that struggle to give their youth an excellent support structure that empowers them to grow and succeed. 

YUP  has been around for 5 years and is dedicated to enriching the lives of Cambodian children, teaching them not only about the sport of ultimate, but also about gender equity, bodies and physical health, leadership, and teamwork. YUP provides solace and structure for those who are sometimes living without.

Girl breaks opponents force with a backhand throw during a game of ultimate at an ultimate frisbee camp in Cambodia

Ultimate disc is a great sport for growth and development 

Through camps and fundraising success, YUP is able to create an education scholarship program for campers who exude the core values and commitment instilled in them through their positive participation in the camps.

YUP has been running camps to teach the communities’ youth about the sport of ultimate and the value system involved with the sport. Campers spend their days playing ultimate, enjoying sport as children should in a safe environment fostered by an amazing coaching staff made up primarily of alumni campers. Beyond the camps, the program has come full circle to establish a scholarship fund for campers to receive an education. They might then advance within their communities and share their new learnings with a wider network, continuing to give back to support youth in Phnom Penh. Through this, youth who would otherwise be exposed to minimal to no education have been given the opportunity to grow and develop in a healthy environment.

ARIA Ultimate is proud to partner with YUP by giving them the discs they are using the make these big changes in Cambodia.  When you buy a disc in the ARIA online store, we can select YUP and we will donate a disc to their programming on your behalf as part of our 1 for 1 donation model. 

Want to see how a disc can change a life? Get involved with YUP and ARIA by picking them for your donation discs when you purchase from  our online store.

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There's a New Disc in Town, and Here's Who Should Be Worried

There's a New Disc in Town, and Here's Who Should Be Worried

When ARIA Ultimate was founded in 2015, the company decided to focus on a few key points: 1) making a new, elite disc for the sport ultimate, 2) improving upon the current market offerings without reinventing the wheel/disc, and 3) propelling the sport of ultimate to a level where it would make a difference in the lives of not only current practitioners, but everyone in the world. To borrow the phrase, ARIA believes that Ultimate is intrinsically good for the world, and we are out to prove it.


So why worry?


At first glance, we’d wager you have some guesses about whom our title is referring to. As a fledgling disc company, ARIA faces a bit of competition in the market. The new disc has unique features compared to other discs; it’s specifically engineered with temperature extremes in mind, has flight rings specially designed for control, and is manufactured from a unique plastic blend. All of this is before you take into account the one-for-one model and founding basis of making Ultimate more accessible and widespread.


Unfortunately for you confident guessers out there, we’re not out to strike fear into Discraft’s (or  to be fair, Wham-O’s) heart. Sure, they’re the competition, and ARIA is the current underdog, but competition is key to both the free market and any form of athletics. Tournaments are no fun if you’re the only one in your bracket. Discraft has been around for a long time making discs for disc golf, general recreation, and ultimate. By having a hand in a variety of disc sports, they’ve seen the sport of ultimate grow in reach and importance over the last two decades. Now ARIA is getting into the game, specifically dedicated to the sport of ultimate, and we are excited to join the other disc companies in leading the charge to grow the sport.


So, no. Disc competitors beware, but just a little bit. We’re thinking bigger.

Female ultimate players vie for the disc.

Let’s be clear: we love sports. We’re pretty big on them. This is what we do. But it takes a specific set of blinders to delude oneself into thinking that a) all sports are created equal, b) that by dint of being a sport, some activities are exempt from criticism and/or improvement, and c) that in the sporting world, popularity needs to equal merit.

 

Given the extremely wide and varied contingent of sports and athletic activities that fill our stadiums and leisure time, it’s impossible to properly compare any sport to all of the others. But all things considered, we think ultimate puts on a pretty good show when compared to pretty much any sport we could come up with. As far as the game itself goes, ultimate and its players can be seen as a combination of many of the best parts of other sports: the running game of soccer, the massive leaps of basketball, the aim and accuracy of baseball, the field layout and play strategy of football, and the unencumbered play of rugby. At the same time, ultimate manages to avoid some of the pitfalls that prevent other sports from being the be-all-end-all human activity (or, like, having ‘ultimate’ in their name…). Contact sports are becoming less and less popular as medical science advances and discovers how harmful they have the potential to be, and ultimate - though not risk-free by any means - is often viewed as an equally athletic but safer alternative. We’re fresh off the US Open, one of the biggest weekends of live-streamed ultimate ever, the world (and the US in particular) is beginning to realize that ultimate is a pretty awesome spectator sport - just enough goals are scored to keep fans entertained, while avoiding overwhelmingly high scoring matches. It’s also easy enough to understand, and even newcomers are more or less able to follow a game or join in.

 

Big League Economics

A Major League Baseball stadium with all its attendant advertisements.

We’ve reached a point in mainstream sports, at least in the United States, where, to put it mildly, sports becomes more about entertainment and less about athletics every day. The industrial sports complex is one of the biggest money-makers in the world, and it’s no secret. Every time a news article comes out about some pro’s multi-million dollar salary, every time a company drops $5 million on a 30-second Super Bowl ad, and every time we all tune in, we feed the monstrosity that professional sports has become. It’s not all bad - the popularity of these sports, and the money behind them, means a bigger audience all the time. Anything that has the potential to inspire future or up-and-coming athletes is a good thing. The problem lies in the hierarchy of motivations for putting sports in the media: spoiler alert, ‘inspiring people’ isn’t near the top. More shocking stories abound: one need only to look up the NFL’s tax-exempt status and the money that cities pour into their sports teams - taxpayer money - to keep the money flowing (and not always successfully) to see how far things have come from simply sharing the love of the game.

 

But it’s not just one professional sport, it’s most of them. As ultimate makes strides towards becoming a mainstream professional sport, it stands to reason that the same temptations that have led other pro sports astray would become more of an influence. Currently, the American Ultimate Disc League has 24 teams across the US and Canada. It’s been around since 2012, survived and outlasted a competing league, and is steadily growing in popularity. It’s no NFL, but ultimate is putting on a good showing as a professional sport, so all eyes are on whether or not it can avoid the economic seduction other pro sports have faced. While it’s too soon to tell, there are a few key signs that this sport might break the trend.

 

First off, ultimate is new. Unlike many of the other big pro sports, ultimate has only been around for the last 60 years, and on a national and global scale for the last 40 or so. This has the fortunate effect of making it less of an old boys club than some of its competitors, and more likely to reject what a lot of people see as a feudal money-making system. Pro sports seem more economically focused every year, so a sport that was founded in an age when people were already starting to question the motivations behind the sports industry has a leg up on the sports that created the need for questioning.

 

Adding to that, the ultimate community is special. Unlike some other sports, ultimate has always been viewed as an inclusive game, since the barriers to participation are low in comparison to many other sports. A league founded on this mentality doesn’t leave a lot of room for the exclusivity touted by the big businesses that run sports - a pricey ticket or fancy viewing box just doesn’t match the ultimate ideal. That’s not to say it’s impossible, merely that when one looks at the ultimate community as a whole, money-hungry would not be the first descriptor. Ultimate still faces challenges at the highest level, and the ultimate community (at all levels, including youth) is appropriately critical and vocal about issues that other sports institutionally sweep under the rug. In ultimate, the money answers to the people, and let’s hope it stays that way.

 

Gender Equity

A large group of men watch and participate in the coin toss at a National Football League game.

As mentioned previously, ultimate’s relative newness has enabled it to be more ‘with the times’ than certain competitors. One of the areas in which it excels - or has at least made marked progress - is that of gender equity, one of those topics where someone usually says something like ‘how is this still an issue? It’s 2017.’

 

Well, mainstream sports, you tell us.

 

Women’s sports have become more and more popular as time goes on: fast forward from Title IX and the advent of women’s pro sports, and today more girls are participating in organized sports than ever. But it’s not enough. As a related note to the previous section, those big pro players and sports making all that money? Those are the men and the men’s leagues. For example, only one woman - Serena Williams - is among the 100 highest-paid athletes - and she’s number 51. And it’s not that women don’t have leagues; they do. It’s that sometimes it can feel like there’s an inherent bias against women’s sports: that somewhere along the line, the patriarchy decided women weren’t athletic, and then when women started to play sports, men in charge had to quickly reaffirm that they couldn’t possibly be as fun to watch as men, and then when people started to see that women were actually doing cool things, had to throw advertising dollars at the men’s leagues to keep their revenue flowing. So the under-representation of women in sports is a) economic, b) ingrained in our society, and c) preventing more women, especially young girls, from pursuing sports and pushing the scale further towards tipping point, because they don’t see people like themselves on the field.

 

Slow progress is being made, but nothing even coming close to the potential women’s sports have. But ultimate has become a beacon of hope by breaking the mold. High-level ultimate does indeed have men’s and women’s divisions, but that’s not all it has. Ultimate also has a mixed division - and not just in rec leagues, but at the highest non-professional level. The most recent US Open tournament, one of the biggest club tournaments in the world, was both streamed online and televised, and the main event - a championship match shown on ESPN2 - was between two mixed teams, Seattle Mixtape and Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust. Mixtape came out on top, but the event was a victory for anyone who cares about women in sports. The victory wasn’t that women were on TV - this happens, occasionally - but that, given the option between showing the men’s game or one that also featured women, the powers that be chose the latter - and people loved it. Progress.

 

Ultimate is nowhere near perfect when it comes to gender equity. But the progress made at the elite level - where representation can have the most effect on lower levels of the game - is unmatched in mainstream sports. As ultimate starts to break into that mainstream, if it can continue to hold onto its gender-equitable stance and keep making progress, ultimate can change the game.

 

As an aside, there’s already a push at the highest levels (but, notably, not in American professional sports) for gender equity: the International Olympic Committee recently announced the introduction of several mixed-gender competitions at the next Olympics, including swimming and track events. While it remains a goal of ultimate to be officially accepted as an Olympic sport, there’s no better contender - the highest level of the game includes a mixed division, so if the Olympics is hoping to move that direction, it could hardly find a more apt team sport. The World Games, a worldwide competition featuring mostly non-Olympic sports, recently concluded its 2017 event. Ultimate was featured - as a mixed event. Big things are happening, and ultimate - with women in it - is at the forefront.

The Ultimate Agenda

A hard hit in a college football game.

Sports are fun. But taking a hard look at the highest levels of sport can sometimes be a somber task. It’s hard to ignore the extent to which an industry that has the potential - and indeed the stated and purported purpose - to inspire healthy activity and competition, teamwork, and fair play often seems to do the exact opposite. The sports industry is so lauded and its task so noble that it’s hard to acknowledge the fact that it sometimes doesn’t fulfil those tasks, even though we want to believe it does.

 

But it doesn’t have to be like this. As ultimate has grown, it’s shown us that in almost all cases, the pursuit of excellence can go hand in hand with integrity, that a sport founded on Spirit of the Game and accountability is antithetical to a cheat-to-win mentality, and that an international focus and worldwide vision is a true game-changer. We’ve found that the fewer barriers to participation that exist, and the more people that can play - together and at the highest level - the better our sport will be. The world needs a return to the Spirit of the Game in the sports industry, and the mainstream industrial sports complex has gone too far. Rather than feeling the need to entrap Ultimate in the bureaucracy and corporate mindset that seems to define high-level sports of late, we have the opportunity to skip straight to connectivity.

 

So yes, disc competitors, there is a new disc in town. And we plan to dedicate ourselves totally and wholeheartedly to the sport of ultimate.  But at the end of the day, the real battle we have is against institutionalized sports and the issues inherent in the industry. Ultimate is ready for its future, and so are we.

The athletes of the All-Star Tour join a spirit circle after their game against Seattle Riot.

Join us in our mission to spread the values and gift of ultimate all around the world through our 1 for 1 donation model in our online store.

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The Ultimate Broadcast: What ESPN refers to as "Frisbee" (The US Open) takes TV by Storm

The Ultimate Broadcast: What ESPN refers to as "Frisbee" (The US Open) takes TV by Storm

Ever turn on your TV and see something totally unexpected... but awesome?

ESPN watchers know the feeling. With the unprecedented broadcast of over 40 ultimate games from the US Open this past weekend culminating in an incredible final on ESPN2 of the mixed division featuring Seattle Mixtape and Minneapolis Drag'n Thrust, ultimate players and non-ultimate-players alike got the chance to see our favorite sport from the comfort of their couch (or possibly bar).  And not only is it great to see ultimate displayed well to the masses, but more subtly, men and women playing on the same field together in an extremely high level self officiated game.  Goooooo sports! 

The Seattle Birdfruit watch the games live on TV at the bar.

https://twitter.com/bird_fruit/status/894353993110966272

Ultimate players and aficionados were predictably thrilled, but the outpouring of interest and amazement from the greater community was one of the highlights and great successes of the weekend (great ultimate aside). 

The internet had plenty to say. For your viewing pleasure, until you have the chance to watch more ultimate on TV, we've collected our favorite reactions for you here.

1. Making the "frisbee" search that much more fulfilling.

Liam Rosen finds some great tweets from the community as they discover how cool ultimate is. 

https://twitter.com/Skyd_LiamRosen/status/894361807581827072

 

2. It's only a short step from tweeting about your first ultimate viewing experience to getting recruited to play on a team. 

"Low key, this ultimate frisbee championship game on espn2 is kinda dope"

https://twitter.com/GDixon410/status/894342585493450753

 

3. Ultimate and carbs do seem to go together pretty well, even if you're new to the sport...

"Ultimate Frisbee on ESPN has to be the best thing since sliced bread"

https://twitter.com/JamieABryson/status/894340438609494018

 

4. ...as referenced on several occasions. 

"No, sitting in a Mexican restaurant watching frisbee on ESPN2 is the best things since, well, tortilla chips. #ultimate"

https://twitter.com/RickLiebling/status/894341793931833344

 

4. We've got your answer, Tyler: it's because it's awesome.  

"Why am I watching ultimate frisbee on espn 2. And why am I really entertained by it"

https://twitter.com/TDMEL52/status/894347597036564480

 

 5. There's really nothing like seeing your sport on the screen.

"Ultimate live on the Deuce Sunday night. US Open Mixed final will be rebroadcast on The Ocho (ESPNU) on Tuesday."

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1390819804347035&set=gm.1058436417592937&type=3&theater

 

6. And finally seeing the public think it's as cool as you know it is. 

"Okay I didn't know it was a thing "Ultimate Frisbee US Open - mixed finales" Oh no cleat to the chest, his teammates literally carry him off the field. No foul. Seattle 11 Minnesota 9."

https://www.facebook.com/kris.oegerle/posts/10213872084342409 

 

 7. It's about time. 

"Ultimate frisbee is the most electric sport I've ever seen"

https://twitter.com/e_whelch/status/894348823316893697

 

So thanks, ESPN and USA Ultimate, for showing ultimate some love. For all the newcomers out there: there's more where this came from. See you all out on the field!

- the ARIA team

Want to give ultimate a go? Head over to our online shop and see for yourself what the hype is about!

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AGE UP, ARIA Ultimate, and Gender Equity

AGE UP, ARIA Ultimate, and Gender Equity

Many discussions about the sport commonly known as “ultimate” come back to the ultimate community. Ultimate is touted far and wide as an inclusive, welcoming, and supportive sport, due fully to the people and groups that play it. No community, no ultimate. Without that community and the way it inspires and changes lives, ARIA Ultimate wouldn’t exist. The company was founded on the basis of giving back to the ultimate community and enabling it to maintain the impact it has on the world.


ARIA’s giving-back method of choice has been a one-for-one model of donating discs to organizations that use ultimate for the greater good (for more on the ins and outs of one-for-one models, check out our blog post here. But handing out discs to everyone isn’t practical, so finding social partners to pair up with for donations was crucial. We wanted to ensure the best possible distribution of the donated discs, and to make sure we partnered with organizations with a variety of goals and purposes.


Why AGE UP (All Girl Everything Ultimate Program) as a social partner?


A number of organizations worldwide have recognized the disparity between the genders both in ultimate and outside of it, as well as ultimate’s great potential as a sport and culture to work towards equity (providing everyone with what they need to succeed, rather than equality, which provides everyone with the same thing). In our one-for-one effort to give back to the community and encourage the amazing work being done, it only made sense for ARIA to partner with an organization that focuses on women and girls in ultimate and takes a stand for gender equity. We found a perfect match in AGE UP (All Girl Everything Ultimate Program), a group based out of Seattle, Washington that works to “empower future leaders, expand opportunities for growth, and build community around a love for Ultimate Frisbee” with a focus on gender and racial equity.


What impact does AGE UP have on the ultimate community?


AGE UP works with youth (of all genders) in a program designed to consist of "dismantling the patriarchy, undoing white supremacy, and throwing the frisbee.” Youth start out in one of two first-year programs, one which “welcomes all girl-identified and girl-socialized participants” and has been “dismantling the patriarchy since 2010,” and another which “welcomes all boy-identified and boy-socialized youth...to engage young men in undoing sexism”.


Once participants complete the year-long program (aimed at middle- and high-school students), they can move onto a returners program featuring “more conversations and hangouts in an all-gender space.” By building a solid framework of unity and activism in a safe space for participants, AGE UP gets them ready to be leaders on the ultimate field and in the wider world and to feel confident and empowered doing it.  In working with students from schools in South Seattle, a historically less-advantaged district, AGE UP has benefited hundreds of youth, and by encouraging feminist and equitable action for tomorrow’s ultimate players in a community that might otherwise not have the opportunity, they’re actively working towards a more equitable and inclusive environment in ultimate and the wider world.

 

Looking to the Future

 

They’ve been successful in a number of ways. AGE UP works in 15 schools in South Seattle and has 260 active participants, an impressive number for any organization. Alumni of the program have gone on to play in the Cascades Cup during the AUDL season, for a number of college teams, and continue to carry and spread the lessons and tactics taught by AGE UP into the wider world, benefiting everyone - ultimate player or otherwise.


ARIA is excited and proud to be working with AGE UP in doing awesome things for the ultimate community, gender equity, and the world in general. To learn more about the rest of our cool social partners, check out our website, and to learn more about AGE UP or to get involved with their work, see their website here.

 

 

We at ARIA Ultimate believe the future is female. To check out our efforts and support conversations around gender equity, head on over to our online shop and see what you can do to help bridge the gender equity gap.

 

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Thoughts from the Ultimate Community on Mental Health Within our Sport

Thoughts from the Ultimate Community on Mental Health Within our Sport

The subject of mental health is often overlooked in the sports community. As ultimate players, coaches, and teammates, we hope that by presenting some of the viewpoints held by members of the community, we’ll be able to increase awareness and encourage discussion about this important topic.

 

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“I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health recently and ultimate has been both a positive and negative thing in the last few weeks. It got me thinking about what other people’s experiences in the community were. So when I got the opportunity to run this account for a week I thought it could be a good chance to reach out and ask the question. I did not expect the reaction and the amount of people that have shared their experiences is inspirational. The more we talk about mental health in our community, the more we break down the stigma. It truly has been amazing to see how many people have had similar experiences with their mental health and ultimate. It’s been such a great reminder that we are not alone in this.”

- Rebecca Thompson (current handler of the BeingUlti account)

 

In June 2017, Being Ulti (@being_ulti) started a twitter thread that sparked a conversation about mental health in the ultimate community, and the ultimate community had a lot to say. Here are some of those views.

 

The tweet that got the conversation going, from @being_ulti.

 

“I have bipolar disorder. As a league-level player, getting out and playing is a great outlet for me to try and reset, or at least minimize what’s going on in my head. As a club and college player I viewed playing in a similar way. As a college and club coach, it is beyond exhausting to plan and carry out a practice or tournament whilst in the mess of one extreme or the other. And as a competitive person, losses or failures can spark a trip to one of those extremes if I’m not careful. It’s a blend of a great outlet and a trigger.”
Charlie Hoppes @charleshoppes

 

“I’ve found it’s very difficult not to measure your self worth by how you perform as player/leader."
Jonathan Neeley @neeleyjd

 

“A challenging piece I’d experienced pile on to mental health (teammates & self) is wrongly equating talent as a player with value as a human.”
Jesse Shofner @jesseshofner

 

“I found the biggest struggle was trying to power thru my mental state to try and play. I became my biggest opponent."
Destined @7SyZyG7
 

“...As for how ultimate has helped me deal with things, that's a bigger can of worms that I've always gone back and forth on. Sometimes it's the place where I'm more in the moment than anywhere else in life, and sometimes it's a real drain, where generating energy and not feeling judged (largely by myself, at the end of the day) is very hard.

The biggest thing is that I would encourage anyone who is feeling depressed, or even just kind of down for a prolonged period, to talk to a professional. Players go to doctors and PTs all the time for hamstring pulls and ankle sprains and back pain and all the other good stuff, and I don't think we do enough to tell people that if you're hurting emotionally, there are people who can and will help with that, too. You wouldn't expect yourself to fix your own torn ACL, and in the same way you don't need to put the pressure completely on yourself to emerge from a difficult mental space. I think the more we normalize talking to therapists and doctors about what's on your mind, the better.”

- Jonathan Neeley

 

“Depression and anxiety - teammates are the ones that help me get through my hardest moments/are understanding when I may need space for a sec. Even when the hardest moments last for weeks they’re there to reassure me and throw me the ladder when I can climb back.”
Molly McKeon @mollymck21

 

“Exercise with teammates helped me through very difficult times. The weights are still heavy, but lifting them alone isn’t therapeutic enough."
Stephen Hubbard @StephenGHubbard

     

    I've only recently been able to open up about this side of ultimate, and it's due in part to the recent conversations in the community. Especially as a captain of a team, you're expected to have it together and be 'on' at all times, making it hard to acknowledge or ask for help. I didn't, and it really took it's toll, leading me to completely walk away from a team this year. I don't want that to happen to others- everyone, leadership especially, should be able to be open about mental health.”

    - Ryan Anderson

     
    “I have been dealing with severe depression and anxiety (and possibly bipolar) since I was a kid. Only learned about it around 25 and only learned how to really manage it around 30 (I’m 32 now). Ultimate has always been to one thing to bring me out of problems. Playing is one way, more so the broad support of teammates and community. Spent 2 nights in ER due to suicidal thoughts in 2014. I had moved away and limited my ultimate involvement (for me, at least). When I hit rock bottom in many ways I moved back and got more involved. It took a while to really be able to manage it but it is my involvement in ultimate that has allowed me to be my strongest and be able to impact others the most. I am most confident and capable due to ultimate. I share my experiences, thoughts and feelings as much as possible to let others know someone else has felt similarly. Teammates have said that has helped them seek help. Toughest realization but also the one that made it possible for me to really work through this is that I cannot remove or stop the Impostor Syndrome, paranoia, or thoughts that everyone hates me and I should to, but knowing that’s not actually who I am allows me to ignore it, fight it, and use it as a way to become a better person. Since ultimate - the game and the community - provided me with the support to be my best self I am driven to provide that opportunity for as many people as possible.”
    Ben Banyas @benbanyas

     

    “This is a conversation that I believe we should take back to our teams and make sure we keep creating a safe space among our teammates <3”

  • Being Ulti @being_ulti
  •  

    “I've been open with individuals on Patrol about my mental health, and I plan at some point this season to make mental health an open conversation with the team. In my time with the D-III Messiah Falcons, I've addressed my battle with bipolar with the team each of the last two seasons, as well as on that same one-on-one level. Both approaches have led to greater understanding, trust, and conversation between me and the members of the team, and between different members of the team with each other. Because I've been open with what I deal with, I've had the privilege of talking with some of my players about the things that they struggle with, or about things someone they love deals with. Whether I've been able to provide advice or if I am needed to listen and empathize, it never hurts to turn to others for support or to seek to support those folks.”
    - Charlie Hoppes

     

    A tweet from @benbanyas.

     

    Things are already happening. By getting a conversation going, the ultimate community has already started lessening the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since it already has a reputation of acceptance and individuality, ultimate is uniquely placed to open up a conversation as well as making it clear that everyone is welcome, and creating a safe space for anybody who wants to share, not share, or just feel supported with or without any mental issues they might struggle with. Nothing is more dangerous to someone dealing with a mental disorder than silence or ignorance on the part of the community, and talking about it, spreading information and demonstrating acceptance is incredibly valuable for people affected by mental issues and those who support them - their teams, their friends, and the ultimate community as a whole.

    So spread the word and join the conversation.

     

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    ARIA Ultimate is a proud supporter of the ultimate community and everyone in it. We want to help continue the conversation surrounding mental health and ultimate, and would love to hear from you!  

    One of ARIA’s tenets is giving back to the ultimate community by donating discs through a 1-for-1 model to organizations giving back to the ultimate community athletically and socially. Conversations like this one around mental health mean a great deal to us, and we want to support them however possible. If you know of any ultimate organizations working with the issue, we’d love to get in touch! Contact us at info@ariaultimate.com, or fill out our social partner application here.

     

    As Ultimate players, we know the value of community and interpersonal connections through ultimate. Let’s keep the conversation going and remember we are NEVER alone. Help us spread community values and support to those in need by contributing to our 1-for-1 program in our online store.

     

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    Disc History: A Brief Summary

    Disc History: A Brief Summary

    Above: Fred Morrison, inventor of the Pluto Platter, took his disc's association with aliens very seriously.

     

    Pie! Ancient Greeks! Space Aliens! College Students!


    People have been throwing things at each other for fun and target practice since before there were words for those things. Beginning with Neanderthals and their prize rocks, humankind has progressed at a rapid pace to achieve glory in the form of a throwable object: no, not lawn darts. It is...the one, the only, the flying disc!


    We imagine that if you’ve ended up here on our blog, you have heard of, seen, maybe even tossed one of these magical devices. If you haven’t, you should, but regardless, they look a bit like this...

    An ultimate disc.

    This is a disc.


    ...and are commonly used in parks, on beaches, and on any number of sports fields around the world as a fun tossing object and/or the object of the game of ultimate (see this Wikipedia link for "ultimate frisbee", a rapidly-growing competitive team sport.


    But where did these flying discs (often called frisbees, for reasons to be explained later in the article) come from?


    Unlike balls, which probably followed rocks in the sporting-goods lineage once people found out there was a way to break fewer toes playing soccer, discs aren’t quite so prevalent in nature. We don’t have a way to find out who the first disc-thrower was, and it may have been a dinosaur, but we do know that by the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeks were tossing around discuses. These look a bit like our modern discs, in that they’re round and mostly flat, but throwing them at your pal takes an aggressive turn when you learn they were once made of stone. So a) the Ancient Greeks were probably super ripped, and b) modern Ultimate players, rejoice that you don’t have to hit the gym more often.

    Ultimate players celebrating on the field.Elusive college ultimate players celebrate not going to the gym.


    The Greeks were disc-trendsetters, but only to a certain extent. They established that round flat things fly alright, and put their disc in the Olympics (“Soon,” says ultimate). And there it remained, content in the track-and-field wheelhouse of athletes who don’t want to run much.


    So the disc faded into relative obscurity until the new batch of wildly innovative humans came along: the elusive, mysterious, unpredictable bored American college student of 1950s New England, here to pick up the Grecian mantle with some help from one guy in San Francisco.


    These trendsetters did not invent a new disc, but they took innovation into their own hands by continuing the great human tradition of throwing things at each other. Fortuitously, at about the same time the Frisbie family of Connecticut were baking 80,000 pies a day, the amount of pies the average ultimate player could eat in the same amount of time. This led to a ton of pie, probably some tighter pants, and a whole lot of ‘Frisbie’-stamped pie tins lying everywhere. Presumably there might have been a few scattered around college dormitories, and the students discovered that they were better and easier to toss on the quad than their textbooks - also cheaper, and you got to eat pie. Players often yelled ‘Frisbie!’ to announce the arrival of a metal projectile to their friends, and the game of toss eventually took on that name as well.


    Meanwhile, in two other corners of the US, aliens were landing in New Mexico and a pair of entrepreneurs in Florida, Fred Morrison and Warren Franscioni, had made a novelty disc (partly inspired by the pie tins, partly by alien mind-infiltration) out of polymerized plastic and called it the Whirlo-Way. The inventors eventually split ways, and Morrison went it alone. Aliens seemed like as good a marketing strategy as any in those strange times, so in 1954 he recast the disc in newer, fancier polyethylene plastic and renamed it the Pluto Platter. The aliens intervened in the form of a lucky meeting between Morrison and the Wham-O company, who discovered Morrison and his disc in San Francisco, and Fred and the Pluto Platter finally made it big.


    The Pluto Platter in all its otherworldly glory.


    Aliens had had their moment, and to appeal to a greater audience of broke college kids, Wham-O renamed the disc with the nifty new name of ‘Frisbee’ and sold a bajillion of them.


    The college kids enjoyed this, but missed the pie involved with their athletic endeavors. They got over it eventually. By 1970, Ultimate was slowly taking hold on the east coast thanks to early adopter Joel Silver and other students of Columbia High, who set out rules in a pamphlet, managed to play a few actual games, and took it with them to their respective colleges. The seed had been sown. By 1975, Wham-O was sending every disc out with a copy of the rules of Ultimate, national championships were being played, and the demand was so high that new discs began to appear on the market. In 1988 the new Discraft disc was selected by the Ultimate Players Association as their official game disc, which put Wham-O’s Frisbee on the back burner, but the name (still their trademark today) had become so ubiquitous with the disc and the sport that both are often colloquially, though unofficially, referred to as frisbee by the greater population.


    Fast forward to 2017, when discs of every type and for every activity have joined the ranks. USA Ultimate, formerly known as the Ultimate Players Association, chooses a number of discs for approval in official game play, though any disc is fair game for pickup or practice (for more information on how a disc gets officially approved, check out our blog post here). Also in 2017, the ARIA disc arrived on the scene. Developed with specifically formulated plastic and engineered for ideal ultimate-playing - the science behind which you can read about here - ARIA hopes to take its place among disc elite and work to grow the sport. Only time will tell, and then we’ll have to write another history report.


    As of publication time, the only people with an ARIA disc headed their way are our lovely Kickstarter backers. Not you? Still dying to get your hands on one? Never fear: our website’s store page will soon live up to its name, and you can buy all the discs your heart desires. To get the inside scoop, put your email in the box at the bottom of the page or on the right margin and we’ll be in touch!

    An ARIA Ultimate disc on the beach at sunset.

    Speaking of history: know details we missed? If you have other info about the history of the flying disc, Ultimate, or pie-tin-tossing aliens, we want to hear about it. Drop us a line at info@ariaultimate.com!




    We owe a great deal of this post to the following sources:


    World Flying Disc Federation: History of the Flying Disc. http://www.wfdf.org/history-stats/history-of-flying-disc/4-history-of-the-frisbee.


    Leonardo, Pasquale Anthony. “Ultimate: The Greatest Sport Ever Invented by Man.” New York: Breakaway Books, 2007.

     

    Now that you’ve explored the past, why not dive into the future of ultimate? Check out our online store and learn more about our 1 for 1 model and mission to spread the sport of ultimate.

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    USAU Approval: A Step-by-Step Process

    USAU Approval: A Step-by-Step Process

    The ARIA disc has arrived. You can hold it, toss it, drink out of it, eat off of it, or use it as an uncomfortable pillow. And you can play ultimate with it.

    Right?

    The answer is definitively yes; that’s the main goal and reason we made it. ARIA discs are designed with all levels of ultimate play in mind, from backyard to youth to college to club and everywhere in between. ARIA is game-ready.

    But like the rest of us, the disc has to qualify for the highest levels of play before it gets its chance to shine on the main stage. That’s where USA Ultimate (USAU) and the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) come in. USAU is the national governing body for the sport of ultimate, sort of like the government for ultimate, but without the distracting politics and scandals. WFDF is like the UN, with over 65 member countries (and counting - welcome Armenia!) united in one congress.

     

    Why do ultimate discs need to be approved?

    While all discs are fair game in any pickup game, practice, and many leagues all over the world, there are some tournaments and events that are sanctioned by ultimate’s governing bodies and therefore require players to compete with one of a short list of approved discs. Over the years, USAU has developed a robust process for testing and approving discs for use in sanctioned and official play. WFDF takes USAU’s approval process and follows the rulings of their tried-and-true system.

    ARIA ultimate disc held with 2 hands

    The disc approval process can go one of three ways: a disc can be denied, receive General Approval, or earn Championship Approval (italics quoted from USAU website):

    • [Denial - This category, while not listed on USAU’s site, is full of promotional checking account discs, chewed up dog discs, and anything with the word NERF on or near it.]
    • General Approval - A USA Ultimate Approved Disc is defined as “Good enough for use by ultimate players (leaguers, competitors at tournaments, USA Ultimate members).” This means that the disc is good enough for league, non-championship tournament play, and for USA Ultimate member’s general use.
    • Championship Approval - A USA Ultimate Approved Championship Disc is defined as “Good enough for use in high level ultimate competition.” This means that the disc is good enough for play in USA Ultimate championships events and associated qualifying events.
    • Note: [Neither of these] imply that the disc will be used within the USA Ultimate Season at the Club, College or Youth levels. Determination of disc(s) to be used in official USA Ultimate competitions will be based on licensing and sponsorship agreements separate from the disc approval process.

     

    How does the USAU approval process work?

    While the process may seem bureaucratic, it’s necessarily thorough and detailed in order to ensure that USAU can set a good standard for our sport. The process essentially boils down to three stages.  

    Stage 1 involves a ruler, a scale, and a gut check. USAU requests a handful of samples from the manufacturer to ensure they weigh 175g (with a very small tolerance), and the height and diameter of the disc are within ‘spec.’ If you are curious, grab a scale, weigh your discs and be your own judge! This is also where an initial screening comes in. While it’s not overly formal, this step can help keep out the riffraff and not bog down the volunteers that sit on the Disc Approval Committee (DAC).  

    Once the working group (basically the kings and queens when it comes to the whole process) decides that the ARIA will pass the initial technical test, they send a disc out to the rest of the DAC members and the Disc Standards Working Group and the DAC get to work on stage 2 evaluation.

    The DAC is essentially the high court.  These volunteers apply and are chosen because of their history and experience in the sport, and the level of passion and interaction they have with ultimate in their past, present and future. They are trusted to give a high level evaluation of the disc on things like catchability, how it performs in different conditions, and if it's flight path is something that they think could work for the sport of ultimate at most levels of play. 

    When the DAC considers the ARIA disc good enough to move forward (stage 2 cleared), 60 more samples of the disc, disguised with a USAU logo, are sent to USAU headquarters in Colorado to then be distributed across the country to the Flight Test Pool (FTP) for... dun dun dunnnnn stage 3.  The FTP is comprised of a variety of players, most of whom have significant experience at a high level of play and/or coaching. It’s then up to the FTP to take the disc out, toss it around a bunch, and judge it on its ultimate worthiness (see what we did there)! Technically, the FTP is 35 folks, with at least 15 men and 15 women.  Realistically, there are more like 60 members, because the FTP voting process requires a certain number of responses to the questionnaire, and every single FTP member isn't always able to properly evaluate every disc.  

    And then we wait!  It's not just 'yeah sure whatever feels good;' the FTP has a rigorous set of questions that they have to answer about the disc, so their job is taken quite seriously. Apparently, a surprising number of discs go through this process, and it is a big responsibility to ensure that their evaluation is fair and valuable for the future of the sport. 

    An ARIA disc basking in the sun.

    The disc approval process is very thorough and exact, but it’s impossible to include everything. Things that the process does not consider:

    1. How cool any logo is that we decide to eventually put on any of our discs.
    2. Layout Ds per capita per state at college sectionals in 1991.
    3. ARIA Ultimate’s 1 for 1 donation model to support the growth of ultimate.
    4. Any past success or failure of a product by a company submitting a new disc.
    5. How many times we thank USAU for all the great work they have done and do for the sport.
    6. Ratio of home runs Ken Griffey Jr knocked out in the second half of his career vs the first half. 

     

    So what does all this mean for ARIA Ultimate?

    At the time of this article, we've passed stage 1 (wahoo!) but the ARIA disc’s approval is in the literal and figurative hands of the DAC, so we can only speculate on whether or not it will be approved for championship play.

    In the meantime, the sun is out and there are unspoken-for hucks to run down, so we’re going to hit the fields while we wait to hear back. We’ll update you if and when approval comes along later this summer!

     

     

     

    Source (and a great place to find more information!) :

    USA Ultimate, “Disc Standards,” http://www.usaultimate.org/resources/disc_standards.aspx. May 4, 2017.

    Inspired to do a test of your own? Our discs are available for purchase through our online shop!

     

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    Ace's Take on the ARIA Game of the Year

    Ace's Take on the ARIA Game of the Year

            Hey all! You probably don’t know who I am, but if you’ve been on our website you may have seen me in the ARIA team page. My name is Candace (or Ace), and I recently moved from NYC to the Seattle area and have been working with ARIA for the last few months. I wanted to give you my own personal recap thoughts about the ARIA Ultimate Game of the Year that we had on April 7th here in Seattle.

            First off, the weather was akin to some of the hurricanes my mother in Florida describes. Swirling winds and cold rain, not quite the best of weather to debut our new disc, but a fitting tribute to launching a Seattle company! For those of you who only play in glorious sunshine, I’d like to take a second to lay out why this weather was so difficult. In windy conditions, the disc requires a bit of extra spin to cut through any headwinds and fly straight. In rainy conditions, the disc requires less spin in order to make it easier to catch. You can see the difficulty in the situation when both conditions are present, as you both need more spin AND less spin on the disc, go figure!

    The ARIA Ultimate flag, blowing in the (heavy) wind.

            Games with such weather often lead to one of only two outcomes: you become so frustrated and aren’t enjoying any aspects of what you’re doing, or you just have to laugh at the things that happen on the field because sometimes they aren’t in your control.

            I consider ourselves very lucky to have had two rosters completely full of people who were able to take the weather in stride and laugh. The spirit on the field was so palpable you could feel it on the sidelines; you could see it behind the camera lens in the smiling faces of the players. There was no competition on the line, no high stakes to fight for in this game...at least for the players. For those of us who were anxiously biting off all of our fingernails in the nervousness about how this game would turn out, the stakes were pretty high. We were showing you all a new disc, and as ultimate players we’ve all reacted to new discs or seen reactions from others over new discs, we know how the story can go.

            So what did I notice? I noticed seven players on the line, fourteen people on a field, fans and teammates cheering from the sidelines, one disc, and a game of ultimate. I noticed the high energy, the smiles of the players, the great plays and nice throws, the good defense and solid offense. What I didn’t notice was the disc. The disc didn’t take away from the game being played in front of us, it didn’t detract from anything happening on the field, and it performed excellently in the wind and rain. You may wonder why I say that as a good thing that the disc wasn’t the center of attention. It’s a great thing, because it means that the ARIA disc is doing what it was built to do. It’s a tool to bring people together with a similar goal in mind; to play a game and to celebrate a community and it’s values. If you don’t believe me, ask the players who were there!

    Chris Mazur leads players down a line of high-fives at the ARIA Ultimate Game of the Year.

            I know that while we are just a disc, we aren’t JUST a disc. We are trying to change the world through our disc, by putting discs into the hands of thousands of people across the globe. We already have 700 discs prepared to go to social organizations who will use them to spread ultimate and create environments where anyone can feel safe and welcomed. The disc as a tool on the field is made to be familiar, to not change the game...but the disc as a tool outside of field is meant to change the game. We have lofty goals and hopes that we can get more discs into the hands of more people... we believe that ultimate is intrinsically good for the world. Dreamers change the world, and in this case...ultimate players can change the world through a dream and a lofty goal. Let’s change the world.

    • Ace, ARIA Ultimate

    Players take the field at the ARIA Ultimate Game of the Year.

     

    Photo credits to Tino Tran Photography.

    Want to help us change the world through ultimate? Check out our online store and see what ARIA has to offer…

     

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