Opening Pull: Semi-Pro League Expansion, USAU Board of Directors Election

Expansion, realignment, elections, and more!

PUL board president Maddy Frey with the championship trophy at Championship Weekend. Photo: Sandy Canetti —

Welcome to Opening Pull, your weekly wrap-up of the previous week in ultimate. We’ve gathered the news you need to know and highlights you need to see, and we’ll let you know what’s coming up in the next week.

PUL Adds Four Teams For 2020 Season; Will Realign To Two Divisions

The Premier Ultimate League teased expansion two weeks ago, but the league revealed the four new franchises joining for the upcoming 2020 season. The Milwaukee Monarchs, Minnesota Strike, Portland (ME) Rising, and Washington DC Shadow were selected as four out of 13 applicants. The league agreed that they wouldn’t add increase the league size by more than 50% during this offseason, despite the level of interest, in order to keep growth manageable.

Every other franchise is back, bringing a total to 12, leading the league to create two divisions. The results of that process have not yet been made public, but a six-team East and six-team Central division are in the works, with the goal to keep travel costs manageable. Teams will play one game against each team in their division. Postseason format is also as-of-yet unannounced.

AUDL Expands With Boston Franchise And Realigns Divisions

After years of attempting to land in the Boston market, the AUDL finally will have a team in Boston in 2020. The as-of-yet unnamed franchise is owned by Robert Ruocco and Peter Collery, two long-time ultimate players. They’ve already brought on Mat Little, who was a part of the MLU’s Boston Whitecaps and has been a key figure in Boston ultimate, as the General Manager.

Boston will compete in the new East division, tasking them with the challenge of defeating the reigning champion New York Empire and the consistently strong Toronto Rush. The South division has been dispersed, with the Atlantic and West each getting some of those teams. The Central division will not add any teams, but they do lose the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds. See the complete divisional picture here.

USA Ultimate Board of Directors Elections Open

Voting for the two open Board of Directors seats at USA Ultimate is open to USAU members. It is highly encouraged that you vote. One of five candidates will be elected for the At-Large seat by the voting membership. Meanwhile, two candidates are running for the Elite Athlete seat, which will be voted on by qualified Elite Athletes. Polls close Tuesday, December 17th.

You can read about the candidates at USA Ultimate. The At-Large candidates are: Terrell Hoagland, Vikram Makhija, Ryan Natzke, Steve Sullivan, and Kyle Weisbrod. The Elite Athlete candidates are: Angela Lin and Ian Toner.

New Western Ultimate League Forms

Oh, you thought the semi-pro news was done? Hope you caught your breath.

Along with the Premier Ultimate League news, it was announced that a group of teams on the west coast are launching the Western Ultimate League (WUL). The seven-team league has a cooperative relationship with the PUL, and both leagues are hopeful that a merger could be in the future. Both are clear they are not competitors.

The league’s seven franchises are: the Arizona Sidewinders, Los Angeles Astra, Portland Swifts, San Diego Super Bloom, San Francisco Falcons, Seattle Cascades, and Utah Wild. Felicia Yang is the league’s first commissioner. The league will run from March to May and is likely to run similarly to the Premier Ultimate League in most ways.

Ultiworld’s International Club Awards Finalized

Ultiworld’s staff finalized the Asia-Oceanic All-Club and European Club awards selections. Our European coverage team announced All-Europe teams for the men’s, mixed, and women’s divisions, as well as our traditional awards slate. Get to know the stars of other ultimate scenes, especially with the World Ultimate and Guts Championships on the horizon.

High School National Invite 2020 Announced

Next year’s High School National Invite will take place June 12-13 in Rockford, IL, hosting 32 top girls and boys teams from around the country. Ultiworld, Competitive Ultimate Training, and Great Lakes Ultimate Events will again be inviting teams to compete on a rolling basis, monitoring team performance throughout the year, informed by Ultiworld’s Power Rankings. As was the case in 2019, the tournament will take place Friday and Saturday, allowing teams that cannot compete on Sundays to participate.

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