AUDL Inclusion Initiative Members

 

Name (Aii Co-Chair): Matt Smith
Team Affiliation: Atlanta Hustle
Role: Player - Rhode Island Rampage (2012), Atlanta Hustle (2015-2020)
Reason for joining the Aii: I grew up with a lot of different cultural influences from my time in Central/South America, Hawaii, and the US Mainland (both north and south of the Mason-Dixie!). I believe we all benefit when different groups are communicating and learning from each other. I want the AUDL and its fanbase to look more like the America I see around me.

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Name (Aii Co-Chair): Christina Lee Chung, MD, FAAD
Team Affiliation: Philadelphia Phoenix
Role: Majority Owner and Managing Partner (2019-present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I was born in Philadelphia and raised in the 1980s by South Korean immigrants. This stoked a personal fire from having to navigate the challenges of growing up a person of color in the U.S. and being female within both the American and Korean cultures. In college, I majored in Spanish with a focus on Latin/South American studies and studied abroad with the goal of serving communities of color. My career in academic medicine and clinical research has focused on cultural competence and equity in medicine, specifically the discovery of skin cancer risk factors and skin disease unique to patients of color. I have learned the value of opportunity, mentorship, and leadership but also the importance of having the resources to take advantage of these things. My husband introduced me to ultimate in adulthood and I was captivated by the game and its community. I was equally struck by its lack of racial and socioeconomic diversity. A desire to address this disparity at the local level was one of my primary reasons for acquiring the Phoenix. Similarly, my goal is to challenge the AUDL through the Aii to become a leader in this field and strive to make the spectrum of opportunity that ultimate affords - health, community, participation in and engagement with sports at all levels - accessible to and inclusive of all.

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Name: Steve Hall
Team Affiliation: Atlanta Hustle
Role: League Commissioner (2018-Present), minority owner of Atlanta Hustle (2017-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I founded the AII because I believe our sports entertainment business will be stronger and achieve better results if it’s representative of the entire community. In order to achieve that greater representation, we must be proactive and reach out to new parts of the community. In addition, we must educate our players, coaches, officials and owners on the implicit biases we have as human beings that often block our willingness to be inclusive. I believe we must have a diverse set of people from our business to lead the AII and to ensure our mission and messages are on point.

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Name: Remi Ojo Jr.
Team Affiliation: Toronto Rush
Role: Player (2014 - Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: As ultimate continues to grow, I believe we have a really great opportunity to address diversity and inclusion from the bottom up. I also strive to be a voice and representative for people of colour in the league.

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Name: Mike Arcata
Team Affiliation: Philadelphia Phoenix
Role: Player (2017-Present), Team Management (2018-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: Ultimate has had a profound impact on my life, and I want to see entry barriers to the sport removed so that people of all backgrounds have access to that same meaningful experience. I've had a big focus on youth development with the Phoenix and want to help the AUDL and it's teams share ultimate with a diverse range of communities, from the youth level on up.

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Name: Kamron Daftari
Team Affiliation: Raleigh Flyers
Role: Player - Austin Sol (2017-2018), Raleigh Flyers (2019-2020)
Reason for joining the Aii: Strong desire to help grow the sport of ultimate and increase the communities that participate in it. Frisbee is a fantastic sport and I want everyone who desires to participate to have that opportunity to. Having “improving the diversity within AUDL” as a goal will require improvements from all levels of ultimate, youth to professional, and I believe within the pursuit of that goal we will be able to touch many areas of our sport that if improved upon will greatly benefit the entire ultimate community. 

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Name: Tristan Green
Team Affiliation: Raleigh Flyers
Role: Player (2015-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: My work professionally as the Executive Director of Triangle Ultimate, the local Ultimate frisbee organization in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Through Ultimate I've had opportunities to play all across the world, but through my work I've been focused on connecting Ultimate to the local region where I live. Representation and inclusion has been a key part of my work locally, and is why I joined the AUDL Aii group to be part of the conversation nationally across the league and the sport.

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Name: Gabe Hernández
Team Affiliation: Dallas Roughnecks
Role: Player (2017-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I've always subconsciously noticed that ultimate is predominantly white, and it wasn't until late in my college career that I started feeling the impulse to speak up about it. As the political climate in the country has gotten more polarized, I have felt the need to share more stories from my own community to shed light on what it's like to grow up as a low-income Latino, both in ultimate and in America. My hope is to inspire others like me to share their story as we try to move towards a more equitable future for black and brown communities.

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Name: Monica Johnnson
Team Affiliation: Seattle Cascades
Role: Ownership Group (2019-Present), Youth Manager (2017-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I've been doing diversity and inclusion work with the Seattle Cascades for the past few years, with a special focus in the youth space. Ultimate is such a great sport and I want to work to make entry points for ultimate more accessible and welcoming across all levels of play. Broadly, I joined the Aii to be part of a national level effort to help make the ultimate community a more inclusive space.
 

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Name: Michael 'The Sultan' Kiyoi
Team Affiliation: Los Angeles Aviators
Role: Player - San Jose Spiders Championship Team! (2014), Los Angeles Aviators (2015-2020)
Reason for joining the Aii: I have a strong passion for education and joined to educate myself and others. I also believe we have so many great players/people in the league and Ultimate as a community. These people should be seen, heard and appreciated in order to highlight our diversity and unity. This hopefully will lead to more youth and adults of color joining/loving the game. Lastly, as Japanese American whose family was in the internment camps I am motivated to be involved in a group that values inclusion and action.

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Name: Steven Naji
Team Affiliation: Austin Sol, former player with Indianapolis
Role: Coach (2019 - Present), Player (2014-2019) 
Reason for joining the Aii:  For the last 15 years, ultimate has given me access to so many positive resources and opportunities, and I intend to find ways to share those opportunities with as many people as I can, especially in areas known for less opportunity. In these crazy times, I think our sport has incredible potential to help awareness and bring to light many areas that our society needs to improve. As a coach in the AUDL, I want to use my platform and resources to reach communities who have not had representation at the professional level. Sports, and ultimate in general, unite communities and bring to light so many positive conceptions. I'm honored to join a group of hard working colleagues who share the vision for making our sport more inclusive.

My hopes and intentions are to continue growing the sport of ultimate, and to specifically bring in more people of color to relevant positions in our sport.

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Name: James Pollard
Team Affiliation: Philadelphia Phoenix
Role: Player (2018-present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I joined because I want to be a part of helping diversify the league and ultimate in general. I've been playing tennis competitively since middle school and later on went to get a scholarship to play D2 tennis at Philadelphia University. I also played on the golf team my junior and senior year of high school. I've gotten too used to being the only player that looks like me on my teams. I'm a pretty quiet guy that likes to lead by example. Joining the Aii is my way of having my voice heard so there can be more players that look like me playing at a high level.

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Name: Ken Porter
Team Affiliation: N/A
Role: Retired Player. Detroit Mechanix (2013), Charlotte Express (2015-2016)
Reason for joining the Aii: I joined the Aii to help make a difference in the ultimate community, to help make everyone (regardless of sexual orientation, race, ability, role, or financial standing) feel more welcome and included in what the AUDL is doing, and selfishly to have another avenue to be invested in a sport that I've grown to love and appreciate for the many fond memories and bonds that it has allowed me to possess.

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Name: Ryan Purcell
Team Affiliation: Austin Sol
Role: Player (2016-2020)
Reason for joining the Aii: To learn, support, engage in the conversation. As a sport and as a society we have much work to do, and I think Ultimate and the AUDL can be a part of the solution. And that same line of thought applies to me as an individual - I have much work to do, and I can be a part of the solution.

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Name: ​Andrew Roca
Team Affiliation:​ Tampa Bay Cannons
Role:​ Player (2015), Coach (2018-Present)
Reason for joining IDEA:  Growing up in bi-racial household in small town, FL, I struggled with my identity. Ultimate gave me the sense of community and acceptance I was looking for to grow as a person. As I grew through the sport and the community, I took time to better understand the surroundings (outside of my own experiences), and realised the lack of people who looked like me. Joining the Aii provides me the chance to be a part of something larger than myself to provide opportunities to those who may not have had them otherwise. In turn, I hope the work the Aii puts forward creates constructive tension and conversations to address the inequities BIPOC face, especially in an environment/world that is rife with structural barriers and social constructs. 

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Name: Peter Thomas Ph.D., M.P.H.
Team Affiliation: Atlanta Hustle
Role: Ownership Group (2018-Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I am a longtime member of the global ultimate community and have competed on men’s and co-ed championship teams at the community, college, and elite club levels. I’ve also competed at the Grand Master level both nationally and internationally.

As a public health epidemiologist and scientist, much of my professional career has concentrated on measuring and addressing racial inequities that drive or accelerate health disparities among people of color.  In my private life, I’ve led and continue to serve on civic and social groups that mentor and support people from groups who are discriminated against or are disadvantaged. As an African American from Atlanta, I am particularly conscious of the need to support and invest in the lives and needs of young black males in ways that help address their life challenges and empower them to realize their potential.  

As a member of Aii and as a part of the ownership group of the Atlanta Hustle, I am passionate about the value and the opportunity the Aii has to advocate for issues that are important to minority groups in the US and to help bring about greater diversity and racial inclusion at all levels of ultimate, particularly the youth and college age young adults.

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Name: Carson Wilder
Team Affiliation: Dallas Roughnecks
Role: Player - Austin Sol (2016-2017), Dallas Roughnecks (2018-2020)
Reason for joining the Aii: Growing up, I had many people of color that were very influential in my life. One of the biggest goals for me is to be a part of major racial reconciliation in our country, and I believe that starts at the personal relationship level. One way this can happen is when people from all backgrounds come together and enjoy our sport while building lifelong relationships. After all, we learn the most from people who are different from us!

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Name: Dave Woods
Team Affiliation: Chicago
Role: Player (2016–2019), Coach (2019 - Present)
Reason for joining the Aii: I believe that teams and organizations realize their potential only when the talents of a diverse group of people unite towards a common goal free of bias. As a league, we will not reach our full potential, nor be as recognized as other mainstream sports, without diversity and equal representation. I am honored to serve with this group of unique and talented individuals uniting towards the progress of our sport.