by Booth Kyle, associate head of school / admissions and financial aid director
Earlier this year, boys Ultimate Frisbee team captains Jackson D. '17 and John R. '17 approached Head of School Bernie Noe and made a case to move Ultimate Frisbee from club status to athletics program status. After that meeting, a small group of administrators met with Jackson, John, and Claire T. '17 (a girls team captain) twice and consulted with the Upper School club advisor, Lauren Bricker.
Through it all, the students made a strong case that the school should offer the club more support. Their case was built on student participation (over 60 students participated this year), growth of the sport nationally, success of the Lakeside program (both boys and girls teams have won Disc NW state championships and the boys team is currently ranked second in the nation), and the acknowledgement of other area independent schools of Ultimate Frisbee as an "athletics" program. The teams also desire more visibility and recognition. Finally, there was concern about the future because Bricker, the tireless advisor and advocate for the Upper School club, had announced she was departing Lakeside this year. Bricker has absorbed significant administrative responsibilities because she cares about the students and the program and she has done it all with no compensation, like most club advisors do.
The idea of moving Ultimate Frisbee into Lakeside Athletics has merit but it is an expensive proposition and requires significant planning. So for school year 2017-18, we will move Ultimate Frisbee out of club status at the Upper School (it will remain a club at the Middle School) and into "program" status, much like the Lakeside Chess team.
We will hire an Ultimate Frisbee coordinator who will manage the program across grades 5-12, work with the Upper School captains to promote the sport, secure field space, schedule games and tournaments, inventory and purchase equipment, oversee the coaching staff, and work with administrators Rachel Maiorano and Ted Chen to ensure that students are having an excellent experience. We will also hire JV coaches and create a small budget to offset league dues.
Some of the costs of participation at the Upper School will still be charged to students and fundraisers will still be allowed with approval of the coordinator and Upper School Assistant Director Rachel Maiorano. (There will still be no cost for Middle School participants). While all of these developments are neither a perfect nor even a final decision, we do consider it all as a step in the right direction. Maiorano will lead the search process for a new coordinator and will manage the overall transition.
These developments are a result of effective student advocacy and the school's recognition that students in Ultimate Frisbee need more support. The ethos of our Ultimate Frisbee program will not change. Working with the captains was a joy, and we learned that their enthusiasm and passion help to create a special kind of sport. There is a spirit to Ultimate Frisbee that is rooted in the fact that it is not "over-governed" by adults and perhaps all athletics programs could learn something from Ultimate Frisbee. We look forward to monitoring the progress of the teams and program and want to thank all of the program's student-athletes for their hard-work and advocacy.