The longest-running youth tournament in the country is reimagining itself as a forum for high school players to engage on key social justice issues.
May 7, 2021 by Zoe Collins Rath in News with 0 comments
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out another high school ultimate season this spring, but organizers in Amherst, MA are looking to provide alternative programming for youth ultimate players this summer with a series of week-long virtual events called Share, Hear, Build.
Facing a second straight cancellation, organizers of the Amherst Invitational — the longest-running youth tournament in the country — still wanted to find a way to serve the high school ultimate community and move beyond the “just play” model that has traditionally been the standard. ARHS coaches Hannah Baranes and Joe Costello are now working with Shanye Crawford of Disc Diversity, to put on three week-long sessions of an event that they hope will not only engage youth players but also make the ultimate community better in the long-term.
“Today’s youth athletes can build our community stronger if we start building brave spaces for investigating racism, equity, and privilege,” said Baranes.
During each week-long event — one each in June, July, and August — middle and high school players, coaches, and parents from all over the country will participate in a series of hour-long evening workshops followed by working in teams on group exercises and a TikTok team challenge. Evening workshops will focus on three areas: 1) Sharing experiences around racism, privilege, and equity, 2) Hearing players and leaders of color, and 3) Building a community out of rivals of the teams that will be participating. Sessions include discussions of white activism and feminism, how policing players of color can manifest itself on and off the field, and talking about bias in sports broadcasting. Each week will end with a panel discussion featuring core members of the upcoming Con10enT Tour and a tournament around the TikTok team challenge.
Emphasizing that youth are the future of the sport and society, the tournament organizers want to ensure that young people have a voice in important conversations currently taking place throughout the ultimate community.
“This year has afforded me countless opportunities to get into the hearts of ultimate players across the nation,” said Crawford. “With every encounter, I am more convinced that the young people will be required to turn the tide against White Supremacy.”
“We must meet our sport where it is right now, and put youth in the lead,” says Joe Costello.
Each week of this virtual event has space for up to 100 youth participants, with parents and coaches also invited to participate in the workshops. A sliding scale fee structure — with prices ranging from $30 to $175 — allows families to choose a price point that makes sense for them while still allowing the organizers to compensate workshop leaders and panelists.
“I hope that by the end of the week, youth and adults from ultimate communities across the country will both be impressed with their agency and better equipped to exercise it,” says Crawford.
Sessions will run June 7-11, July 19-23, and Aug. 9-13. Registration for Share, Hear, Build opens on Monday, May 10 and is open to any ultimate player between seventh and 12th grade during the 2020-21 school year.