Five Ultimate is teaming up with Aria Discs to help raise funds for local Ultimate non-profits like Seattle’s own DiscNW. These organizations have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, being forced to cancel all their spring programs and events, and potentially their summer ones as well. These events are not only important to their local Ultimate communities but are critical for raising necessary funds that allow them to operate.
During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for us to come together as a community and make sure we all come out the other side of this stronger than before. Five Ultimate’s Quaranteam partnerships and limited-edition line of products is our way of giving back to these amazing organizations that do so much for their communities.
We spoke with Rusty Brown, the Director of Operations for DiscNW, to learn more about how the global pandemic has affected their organization and community and how they’re weathering the storm. Read on below to learn more about the wonderful work they do and how joining the DiscNW Quaranteam can help.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic been affecting you and your organization? How does this affect your overall mission and the work you do for the Ultimate community?
Rusty Brown: Like most small businesses around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on DiscNW and our community. Due to the stay-at-home order, we've canceled all programming (Youth and Adult) for all of Spring. In addition to this, we've canceled our premiere events for the year, Spring Reign (Youth) and Sunbreak (Adult). These cancellations affected a large part of our operating revenue for the year and if cancellations continue through the summer camp season, we will need to continue to scale back our staffing at HQ. That being said, we believe in our mission and want to continue to serve the Ultimate community near and far. Our staff continue to support fundraising efforts, distance learning, and working with other local and national organizations in strategizing the future look of our sport. DiscNW has had numerous volunteers step up to help fill in for staff and our board and staff are committed to determining the future of DiscNW for the positive.
Other than not being able to get on the field and play, what’s been the biggest challenge during this?
RB: The biggest challenge for everyone in and outside our organization is the lack of social aspect from our sport and community. It's not just about getting out on the field and exercising/competing; it's also about the small social interactions week in and week out with teammates and opponents alike. Simply being able to see and interact with people is a huge boost to a person's emotional well being.
How are you getting through this difficult time?
RB: Personally, as a father of two, I struggle to be dad, teacher, and partner all while not having time to myself or an outlet for my frustrations, fears, and insecurities (which Ultimate was for me). I've found solace in small projects: art with my kids, little bits of home improvement, cooking, and playing basketball or soccer with the kids. As an organization, being in touch with our board as a staff member is helpful. Even sitting through board meetings and listening to their thoughts and discussing options for the future helps me be connected. Being active in planning for the future of our sport, knowing that it will return someday, and helping to game plan for how to do that in a safe manner gives me hope.
What’s the vibe in your city/community like?
RB: This is difficult to express as we are in stay-at-home. The vendors I interact with are all hopeful about the return to our sport. The friends I have on social media are all coping in different ways with varying amounts of success. I have seen amazing things come about in this community due to the pandemic and I hope that this spills over to the "normal" of the future.
What are you looking forward to right now?
RB: Right now, I am most likely looking forward to seeing and interacting with friends in person again. Feeling as if I can safely go around or travel if I wanted to. Even if I choose not to, simply having the choice would be great.
What are you hoping to use the funds raised through the Quaranteam fundraiser for?
RB: DiscNW hopes the funds can be used to continue offering virtual programming and priming our organization to be able to ramp back up quickly, once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
What does being a part of a Quaranteam mean to you?
RB: Being a part of Quaranteam means being a part of something bigger than myself. Being able to stay home to keep others safe is imperative to helping our communities survive this pandemic. Being able to support DiscNW while showing that I value the #stayhomesavelives movement is an added benefit.
What else can folks do during this time to support the Ultimate community?
RB: Reach out to your teammates. Share your struggles. Share your wins and losses through this time. Simply sharing with people and showing an effort can mean the world to people. Take care of your community. Ask what you can do to help. If you have time or resources, bring them to bear for your Ultimate teams and organizations.
If you’d like to join the DiscNW Quaranteam and help support the Seattle Ultimate community, you can order your official gear in the DiscNW Quaranteam shop. Hurry — the store closes May 3. If you’re involved with a local Ultimate non-profit organization and want to find out more about partnering with us for your own Quaranteam fundraiser, you can email email@example.com.
Photo by Burt Granofsky/UltiPhotos