The Color of Ultimate: ATL — Player Interviews

We had the honor of interviewing a few players participating in The Color of Ultimate: ATL all-star showcase game this weekend. They shared captivating stories on how they got their start in ultimate and the impact they hope the Color of Ultimate showcase will have on the community.

We interviewed:

Sun Choi

Anraya Palmer

Byron Liu

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Choi, Atlanta Chain Lightning & Atlanta Hustle
Anraya Palmer, Atlanta Ozone & Atlanta Soul
Byron Liu, San Francisco Revolver & San Francisco Flamethrowers

1) Describe how you first started playing ultimate. What made you stay with the sport?

Choi: My first ever experience with playing ultimate was throwing in my high school parking lot with a friend. I remember it pretty vividly. It was the summer before I graduated high school and I was out throwing with a friend after school. The sun was setting, cars were strewn across the parking lot and I was in jeans. We were throwing with a worn-out blue Wham-O Heavyweights disc that I took from gym class that day. I swear we threw for hours. Dodging and hitting cars, laughing, running around and enjoying our start to the summer. This was one of the few moments I can recall that I was so wildly content. And that’s when I knew I was gonna play this sport. All because of a piece of plastic, a parking lot, and a friend to throw with. Went to Marietta pick and found out about KSU ultimate and the rest is really history.

I stuck with Ultimate because of the people. My first ever tournament was Shawn Adams with some KSU guys that I had probably known for about a month. I didn’t know how to play, but the team I played with was super nice and just open to getting me involved. The guys that I went with were hilarious and they taught me so much about the game. I liked how serious they took it, but were also very light-hearted about the whole thing. Thanks to those guys, it was an overall great experience that really solidified my love of the game.

Palmer: I first starting playing ultimate my senior year of high school. I had just finished playing basketball and was too burnt out with school to think about playing a super competitive season of soccer. A friend who had been trying to convince me to play ultimate told me it was very low commitment and super fun. I wasn’t convinced this was the sport for me yet because I was playing on an open team. If I dropped the disc, I wasn’t thrown to again. It wasn’t until I was able to play on a women’s team at an all-women’s tournament that I started to really enjoy the game. I rediscovered the sport in my sophomore year of college at UGA. My college team quickly became my second family and from then on, I knew ultimate was the sport for me. Being able to still be active and compete at a sport, plus doing it with my friends, nothing is better than that.

Liu: I started playing in college at Emory University. I joined because my older brother had started playing the year before at Middlebury College and we had played a bit when he came back for the summer. I actually didn’t play that much my freshmen fall because I was also spending time with a dance crew, but after attending my first tournament (Classic City Classic in Athens) I was hooked. It was there I found out how truly strange ultimate players are and how much that is encouraged.

2) Has race affected your experience playing ultimate? If yes, how so?

Choi: My first ever nationals that I went to see was in 2010. Masahiro Matsuno (team Japan) was playing with Furious George that year and the dude was a BEAST. He got MVP at CLUB NATIONALS! Watching that dude cut and work people on the field was amazing. It was seriously an inspiration to see an Asian dude tear it up on the field like that. I’ve always dreamed of having perfect timing like him.

Palmer: I think one thing most people don’t understand is that race can affect you without anyone being “racist”. Whenever I, as a POC, am entering a space where I am the minority, I am aware of my race. Every time I travel to a tournament, stay at a hotel and step on the field, I am aware of my race. I try not to think about it as much when I’m playing, but it is hard not to notice that I don’t see too many people that look like me. In the almost 10 years that I’ve been playing, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a black teammate. And while I’ve never experienced any negative interactions with any of my teammates, I am still always constantly aware of my surroundings and who I’m hanging out with.

Liu: Right into the tough questions! One specific moment comes to mind. After winning the 2017 AUDL Championship with the SF Flamethrowers I had two Asian Canadian kids (the game was in Toronto) come up to me. They had come to watch me play because I was one of the few players that looked like them that they had ever heard of. That was the moment I truly realized that I didn’t have the privilege of being just a player, that how I carried myself shaped an outsize portion of how others envisioned themselves in our sport. While I strive to be a good example for others, it made me wish our world felt more accessible to those looking for a way in.

3) What steps should be taken to promote diversity in the sport?

Choi: That’s a pretty hard question and I think greater minds are working on that. I think the AFDC and Hustle have done such an outstanding job of promoting the sport through Boys and Girls Clubs, volunteering at local Atlanta Schools and putting on showcase games like this one have been building towards getting more people involved in playing Ultimate.

Palmer: I think there needs to be more visibility for POC in our game. Teams like Downtown Brown and all-POC games like this one are huge. They raise awareness about the lack of diversity in ultimate, as well as create a space for POCs that they may never get to experience again. Game footage and highlights being readily available online and all-over social media is great too. Being able to see more players that look like you is so important, you can’t be what you can’t see. Also getting more and more people that are willing to speak up about the lack of diversity in ultimate. The GE movement got people to talk more about womxn in ultimate. It’s time we start talking about diversity.

Liu: I don’t feel anywhere near qualified to answer this question. But since I’m here, I think something we can always do better is living our values. A wise person once told me, it’s easy to know the right thing to do and hard to do it. That’s why I’m so impressed by the Color of Ultimate showcase game. This entire event sprang from folks choosing to act based on their values. By creating a visible celebration of diversity and inclusion they are saying, more powerfully than any words could, that there are socioeconomic and racial inequities that we need to face. Not only that, but they also made it easy for us (the players and the community) to engage — through registration, sponsorships, a live stream, and all the behind the scenes work that all require — knowing that things like this need to be perfect to get the recognition they deserve.

4) What are your goals in the next five years of your ultimate career?

Choi: “not here for a long time, just here for a good time” That’s what I think of when I read this question. I’m not too sure what my Ultimate 5-year plan is, but I know that I enjoy playing at this level and want to compete here for as long as possible. I guess my biggest goals are to enjoy the sport, improve my game, and sky Matt Smith one time.

Palmer: I want to still be competing at the highest level. Continue to grow as a player and a leader. Be a top defender! I want Ozone to be consistently in the top 4 at Nationals. Continue speaking up for POC and increasing diversity in ultimate.

Liu:  I honestly haven’t thought that much about it.

–Interviews were conducted by Gerleen Dineros


Thank you to all of our sponsors supporting this event, but especially the Atlanta Soul, the Atlanta HustleSpin Ultimate and ARIA Discs for helping contribute to our mission of increasing the racial and socioeconomic diversity in ultimate.

                      

 

 

The Color of Ultimate: ATL — A Preview

 

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of that tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.” – Maya Angelou

 

Events like The Color of Ultimate: ATL exist today to reinforce Maya Angelou’s point: we are strongest as a people when we celebrate each other’s differences.

On June 22, 2019, AFDC: Project Diversity will host The Color of Ultimate: ATL, a game whose goal is to bring awareness about the socioeconomic and racial inequity of the sport of ultimate. The day will include the following events:

  • Round-table discussions for participating players about race, class, and inequity in ultimate and how ultimate communities can develop action plans to best reach the underrepresented demographics and communities.
  • FREE pre-game youth and adult clinics led by elite players of color
  • An all-star showcase game to close the night!

The game will take place at 7:00pm at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta, GA. The preceding clinics will take place at the same location from 5:30-6:30pm. Admission to the game is free, although donations to the cause will be accepted upon entry. The game will be live-streamed for free on youtube and available on youtube after the game as well.

The Color of Ultimate: ATL Roster features some of the game’s best players from across the nation (and Colombia).

To ensure a captivating and engaging experience for those participating throughout the day, top-level players—all who self-identify as players of color—from across the country (and Colombia, South America) have applied to and been recruited to play in this special event. Many of these players have made repeat appearances at USA Ultimate’s Club National Championships or at World Flying Disc Federation’s (WFDF) World Championships, and most have also played ultimate professionally through the Premier Ultimate League (PUL) or American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL).

This year’s iteration of the showcase game has grown exponentially as Project Diversity has validated and promoted The Color of Ultimate: ATL by additionally partnering with several sponsors, and hosting the game at a well-known high school football stadium. The game has come a long way from the first Color of Ultimate game that was held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in September 2018 on a side football practice field that had only about twenty spectators.

The players coming to participate in this event are not only elite level competitors, but are also coaches and mentors in their respective communities. They have seen a need to represent their cultures and show younger generations that they too are capable of enjoying the sport and performing at the highest level of competition. We will be featuring a few of them leading up to the event in a future post.

The goal of the event remains to enable people of minority races to see others that look like them playing ultimate at a highly competitive level. Ultimate is an easily accessible game in terms of financial cost of entry. All you need are a disc and field. So why does this sport struggle with a lack of diversity?

When asked this question, Josh T. Feng, the director of Project Diversity, said, “People need to realize that there is a racial and socioeconomic inequity in ultimate, and that it isn’t okay. Once they’ve done that, we need to really think about how we can actually make a difference. Can we get more coaches into schools that NEED a single-qualified ultimate coach as opposed to supporting schools that already have several qualified coaches? […] Can we provide more opportunity and access to people who would love the sport but don’t know about it or can’t make it happen on their own? And then we need to actually do something about it.”

At the end of the day, one goal of hosting The Color of Ultimate: ATL is to bring about meaningful discussions to raise awareness and brainstorm solutions to the racial and socioeconomic disparities in the ultimate frisbee community. People play because they love the sport. They also advocate for others because everyone should have the opportunity to discover their love for the sport of ultimate. Join in strengthening the diversity of our community on June 22nd at St. Pius X High School at 7:00 pm.

–Gerleen Dineros

Click here for more information on the game:
http://www.afdc.com/the-color-of-ultimate-atl/

Click here to sponsor a player, donate to the mission, or purchase a ticket:
https://atlanta-flying-disc-club.square.site/tix-and-donations


Thank you to all of our sponsors supporting this event, but especially the Atlanta Soul, the Atlanta Hustle, Spin Ultimate and ARIA Discs for helping contribute to our mission of increasing the racial and socioeconomic diversity in ultimate.

                     

Summer League Pick-Ups

Looking for a low-commitment ultimate frisbee option for the summer? Then keep reading!

Brand NEW for 2019, AFDC is introducing an experimental pick up list for Summer League. Picks ups will be used week to week to help fill out team rosters when there are absences. This list will apply to regular season games on Tuesday & Thursday nights as well as our two weekend tournaments: MST (6/29-30) & EoS (8/3-4). All players will have the possibility to play with any team, so this is a great way to meet new players!

  • Cost: $5, non refundable
  • How to sign-up: Register for the Pick Up List on our leagues site 
  • Don’t delay! The list is capped at 30 women & 30 men.

The Color of Ultimate: ATL — Rosters Released!

For more info, please click on the the following links:
The Color of Ultimate: ATL Game // Facebook Event
Purchase Tickets or Sponsor a Player!
AFDC Project Diversity // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

Here is the complete roster for The Color of Ultimate: ATL

*Why are players listed as Women and Men? The game was open to all genders and players all identified as women or men.

 

 

Announcements of the specific teams and player bios coming soon!!

Summer League – How to Pair

Got a buddy you just have to play Summer League with? You can! Whether it’s a bestie, crush, roommate, partner, or carpool buddy, you can pair up so both of you will be put on a team together. Just follow these steps:

  • Get both players registered and paid (only “active” players can pair)
  • Find your buddy on the Players list and select “invite to pair”
  • Have your buddy accept the invitation to pair

All steps must be followed for the pair to count! For more information, check out this how-to pair guide.

Cobb League Registration is Open!

Our Cobb County “Parks & Rec” Summer League is back for another year! Registration is now open to women & men. Players can sign up to play as a pair – just add to your notes during registration.

Sign up before May 18th!

Games will be Monday nights at 7:00 at Terrell Mill Park. Regular season roughly from June-July with a one-day end of season tournament in August. League fees include a team jersey and AFDC disc.

Interested in captaining? Email info@afdc.com to get added.

*More league information here* 

 

The Color of Ultimate – Players Needed!

The application to be a part of The Color of Ultimate: ATL is now live!! We have about 15-20 spots on our roster still open at the moment, and we are hoping for the most talented players of color in ultimate to join us for this event! Read more about our mission with this event in our previous post.

All players who self-identify as a person of color are encouraged to apply by filling out this application. Spots will be offered on a rolling basis, so don’t wait! Players will know of their final status by May 18th. More information about the process and player experience is included in the application form.

We’re excited to announce the following players have already committed:

Women

  • Anraya Palmer (Atlanta Soul, Atlanta Ozone)
  • Leah Tsinajinie (Atlanta Soul, Atlanta Ozone)
  • Jin-Mi Matsunaga (Atlanta Soul, Atlanta Ozone)
  • Shanye Crawford (Atlanta Soul, Atlanta Bucket)
  • Manuela Cardenas (Medellin Revolution)
  • Valeria Cardenas (Medellin Revolution)
  • Elizabeth Mosquera (Medellin Revolution)
  • Ximena Montana (Medellin Revolution)

Men

  • Matt Smith (Atlanta Hustle, Atlanta Chain Lightning)
  • Kelvin Williams (Atlanta Hustle, Atlanta Chain Lightning)
  • Anders Olsen (Atlanta Hustle, Atlanta Chain Lightning)
  • Sun Choi (Atlanta Hustle, Atlanta Chain Lightning)
  • Byron Liu (San Francisco Revolver)
  • Christian Boxley (DC Breeze, Washington DC Truck Stop)
  • Ben Feng (DC Breeze, Washington DC Truck Stop)

 

SL Registration Ends Tuesday!

Summer League registration is LIVE and ends Tuesday (5/6)!

We still have 20 spots open for women to fill up the league, so help us spread the word. Women can sign up in pairs to be on teams together – just add that to your notes during registration. Players can also form co-ed pairs, but spots are full already for men, so make sure both players are registered.

Summer League is a 4/3 league, meaning 4 men and 3 women play on the field at a time. This format ensures women get lots of playing time and play an integral part in the game. New players are always welcome and captains or other players will help introduce you to this fun, exciting sport!

Summer League Registration!

Summer League registration goes live tomorrow (5/1) at noon!

Spots will fill up FAST (for men) – make sure to log in and sign up as soon as possible. You may pair with another player, but only after both players have been registered individually. We will also have a wait list for players that sign up late in the event of drops prior to start of the leagues.

To help streamline the process, complete the following steps before registration opens:

  1. Make sure you have a leagues page profile – sign up here
  2. Update your gRank – in your leagues page profile, click the purple button

*More details on Summer League are available here*

 

Cobb League is back for 2019!

Cobb County Monday Night Lights returns for 2019!

For the second year running, Cobb County Parks and AFDC are partnering together to bring you ultimate action on Monday nights.

We’re excited to work with our neighbors in Cobb to bring a high level of competition, dedication to ultimate, and Spirit of the Game to north Atlanta! We’ll be hosting player registration and teams, and they’ll help handle legwork and fields.

More details to come, but here’s our hopes…

  • Registration opens in early May
  • Costs below $50 / person
  • Games at Terrell Mill on Monday nights (the lit softball outfields & new turf field)
  • Season games from June – July
  • End of season tournament in early August
  • Team t-shirts & USAU-approved discs for all participants!

If you’re interested in captaining or volunteering in any way, please contact info@afdc.com to get connected!