Bringing Ultimate Frisbee to Low-Income Elementary School Students

Guest blogger Zara Cadoux on introducing Ultimate to Playworks

I love the game of Ultimate. Ultimate’s foundational philosophy the Spirit of the Game is a code of conduct that encourages personal responsibility and honesty on the field. When I started working for Playworks, I realized that the play ethic we as coaches strive to instill in our students during recess and developmental sports leagues is essentially Spirit of the Game. In addition, the self-officiating in Ultimate promotes and utilizes the conflict-resolution skills that Playworks already teaches. As my school year continued, I began to think more and more about using Ultimate as a youth development tool.

So, when Playworks founder Jill Vialet offered me the chance to create an Ultimate curriculum for Playworks, I jumped at the opportunity to spread my love for this sport and its benefits to Playworks students across the country. I pitched the idea of a partnership with Playworks to USA Ultimate, the national governing body of the sport, and they graciously agreed to support the project by donating discs and materials.

With the support of USA Ultimate, I began reaching out to city-based Ultimate organizations, concentrating on regions where youth Ultimate leagues already exist. My goal is to establish long-term connections between local Ultimate organizations and Playworks offices. My hope is to expose Playworks students to the sport and provide them with more opportunities to play outside of school.

I am excited to report that Playworks Denver was the first city to host an Ultimate training. USA Ultimate’s Mike Lovinguth and Baker Pratt had a blast leading the kick-off training with 14 Playworks Denver coaches, preparing them to pass Ultimate on to their students. Playworks Denver and USA Ultimate hope to host an Ultimate extravaganza soon.

Next up, 30 staff from Playworks San Francisco were all smiles at a training run by Valerio Iani of the Bay Area Disc Association. Valerio and the team are partnering to run an Ultimate Jamboree this month where students will not only be able to play, but also watch a game of top Bay Area Ultimate players.

So far, by introducing Ultimate in two cities more than 16,000 kids in 36 schools have been exposed to the sport. I'm looking forward to bringing the Ultimate community and Playworks together in new cities!

Zara Cadoux worked as a Playworks Coach in Baltimore during the 2010-2011 school year. During college, she played Ultimate Frisbee on the Vassar College Women’s team, the Boxing Nuns. She currently captains a women’s club team in Baltimore, coaches the University of Maryland Baltimore County women’s team, and recently received her certification to officiate high level games.

Photo Courtesy of Bay Area Disc Association.

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