The Spirit Championships, a new tournament series, will offer postseason play this fall for less competitive club teams as an alternative to the USA Ultimate Series.
April 8, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 14 comments
This fall, a new tournament series will offer postseason play for less competitive club teams as an alternative to the USA Ultimate Series.
Dubbed the Spirit Championships, the tournaments are described as “for players and teams who play for the love of the game, and for whom winning is always secondary to Spirit of the Game.”
Trent Simmons, a Colorado-based organizer who just finished hosting the Indoor Ultimate Championships, is the spokesperson for the Spirit Championships, as well as one of the independent tournament directors organizing the events. The others have, for now, chosen to remain anonymous. Simmons talked with Ultiworld about the new series late last week.
“Essentially, we are starting a new fall series that will not require any type of membership to play in,” he said, explaining that player fees alone will fund the tournaments.
The series will begin with state championships for the Mixed Division in late August and September; Simmons is hoping to have a tournament in all 50 states. Those tournaments will qualify teams for 10-12 regional events, which will also include Open and Women’s (teams in those divisions may qualify based on Conferences results, but the final bid process has not been determined).
“One of our priorities for Regionals is to cut way down on travel time,” said Simmons, pointing out that many teams choose not to play in the USA Ultimate Regionals because it is simply too far away in the more geographically dispersed areas of the country.
“In general, the feeling across the country is that USA Ultimate is spending all of its energy on elite ultimate and trying to perfect that part of the game,” said Simmons. “And they’re not paying that much attention to the rest of the club division. And in many ways, they’re making things harder for non-elite teams with their Triple Crown Tour.”
That explains one of the main features of this postseason play: short travel times and no membership fee. USA Ultimate charges an annual fee to participate in its events (including Sectionals and Regionals) in addition to individual tournament fees.
Simmons said that, for many teams, those tournaments just aren’t that fun. He hopes to attract teams that aren’t interested in going to the Club Championships.
“We’re definitely going to have parties at all of our [tournaments],” he said.
An emphasis on Spirit of the Game — hence the name of the series — is also designed to be an important part of the experience. Spirit scores will be recorded and monitored; if teams don’t reach a certain benchmark, they will be disqualified from advancing to Regionals and Nationals.
The National tournament is set to host somewhere from 24 to 30 teams. The location has yet to be determined.
“We are still looking at a few different proposals,” said Simmons. One that could be familiar is Sarasota, which is being considered now that USA Ultimate’s National Championships have left the city for Frisco, Texas.
Tournament fees for the various stages have not yet been finalized. Simmons expects they will be five to ten dollars per player more than Sectionals, with most of that extra money going towards the tournament party.
Ultimately, the idea is to offer an affordable, fun postseason opportunity for teams not looking to compete at the highest levels.
The Spirit Championships website puts it simply: “We want our Fall Series to be a celebration of the game where you still give it all on your field, but afterwards you and your opponents can gather to congratulate each other on a game well played. If you are looking for a hyper competitive Series, this is probably not for you.”