Tuesday, September 23, 2008

UPA Coaching Corp Requirements

So, I just got an email forwarded to me from the UPA.
Here is what I consider the most objectionable part of the email:

During games at UPA Championship events where field access is restricted, teams with coaching staff are required to have at least one Level I Certified coach in order for coaching staff to have player-level field access.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of the UPA Coaching Corp. I think it's a nice program that is genuinely trying to help develop the sport. But, I think this new requirement seems a bit over the top.

My basic problem is this: It's not enough that I (and many other coaches like me) VOLUNTEER hours and hours of my (our) time trying to teach people how to play ultimate...now I'm required to pay the UPA if I have hopes that by VOLUNTEERING my time, I might help my team advance to the highest levels? This doesn't seem to be the ideal way to encourage people to coach.



gcooke said...


Thanks for bringing this up. For my comments, I have my "coach" hat on, not my "UPA" helmet on (not that my coordinator position has any impact upon this policy).

I have been aware of this policy for a while, and I am very much on-board with your concerns.

This policy rings of extortion. I haven't re-upped my level 1 cert, so if my girls ever get to Nats.....and ever get that far in the tournament......I guess Will, Matthew, and Sandie will have to remove me from the field.

So, yeah. I think this is a bad idea......


Gambler said...

Even ignoring the cost of attending the coaching clinics, a bigger issue to me is physical access. The schedule for the 2008 clinics is already set, and there are huge geographic gaps in where the clinics are located.


Numerous states have no clinic scheduled and there's a huge gap in the midwest.

Hh said...

And the midwest is where I happen to live, and the sidelines of college natties helping the baby blue is what I'd planned to be.


Hh said...

Mostly my main concern is going to be making sure that the dates of the clinics hosted closest to me don't interfere with my work/school/family calendar (since I'll most likely be in Mexico during Chicago's clinic), and finding the funds to pay for what may essentially end up being nothing but a day of red tape.


Jackson said...

You mean there is no emergency coaching clinic scheduled for Friday evening at Nationals?

Kyle Weisbrod said...

I won't get into the reasoning behind the policy as I've written a considerable amount about this in the UPA magazine on multiple occasions but a few points (mostly in response to Gwen):

1. 2009 Clinic dates are not yet set. If you want to host a clinic just contact Meredith Tosta at the UPA. If you host a clinic the UPA will comp your clinic fee. Most Level I clinics are run between January and March.

2. The UPA may be running a clinic the day prior to College Nationals for coaches who did not get the opportunity to attend (I am not positive on this but it was much talked about - again contact Meredith Tosta to confirm)

3. This policy has been announced for three years now, has been put in the College Nationals program and written about in the UPA magazine. In the time b/t the policy was originally announced and the time it comes into effect the UPA will have run around 60 clinics nationwide.

As far as cost goes all of you that have posted so far have had the opportunity to attend a clinic FOR FREE. The UPA provides free clinic to women and coaches for women's teams (Gwen, George, AJ (when you coached the Emory women)) as a result of a grant given to the UPA targeted to develop womens Ultimate. Hector had the opportunity when the Colorado HS League sponsored its coaches.

AJ, I appreciate you raising this issue and hopefully informing more coaches that they need to get certified this year.

gcooke said...


Thanks for your comments.

It would be disingenuous of me to claim that my issue with the policy had to do with my own abilities to attend or pay.

I am lucky to live in the NE, so I don't have to drive or fly for many hours. As Hector mentions, the actual cost of attendance, both in terms of time and actual money, is much greater for those folks who do not live close to one of the clinics.

I also realize that I personally can take the clinic for free, but that point, of course, misses why I am not getting re-certified.

I do like the idea of a pre-Nats clinic. However, I think the clinic should be required of all coaches and be free of charge. The captains meeting is run without a cover charge, no? By doing this, the information and concerns of the UPA (ethics and an understanding of expectations of coaches) would be fresh in everyone's mind. Lastly, doing so would re-align the step by step approach (requiring cert for just a few games) that the UPA is taking with the number of coaches that are required to go through the cert process.

Thanks, G

Kyle Weisbrod said...


The costs of the captains' meetings are not free, they are included in the player entry fees.

As for the midwest, we've got at least two instructors in the area (one in Madison and one in Minneapolis) and the UPA is happy to schedule a clinic anywhere that at least some minimum # of coaches will attend (I think it is 7). I would guess that 90% of teams that attended college nationals last year and 100% of those that have a coach and a good shot of making semis had a clinic within reasonable driving distance last year. Even if not, as I said before they can get one in their area this year to ensure that they get certified.

The question, at least for you, is not whether it is a good idea, but rather by whom the costs should be borne. My opinion is that it is the responsibility of the coaches and teams that directly benefit from having coaches gain certification. I do believe that there is also a benefit to all of the sport to have coaches certified (especially at the top level) and I believe that the UPA does currently subsidize some portion of the Level I clinics.

I think the difficulty is in the fact that these are "required" clinics and so it feels like coaches aren't permitted to make the decision about whether or not the clinic is of value to them. As such it may provide a disincentive to coach. I think that's certainly a reasonable position to take.

I believe that as part of the strategic plan, there is a tactic to restructure the coaching clinics so that there is a shorter, less expensive version of the clinics that is the "required" standard for this event. (I imagine) This version of the clinic would cover professionalism, ethics, liability and insurance, and SOTG segments of the full clinic. http://www.upa.org/upa/strategicplanning/2008-2012/youth.

Ideally, this would reduce the minimum commitment that coaches have to make in terms of time and money while still educating and enforcing coaching standards.

Tarr said...

Honestly, the team should be willing to pay for you to attend the clinic. Any team too cheap to pay for a coach's certification won't be going to nationals anyway.

The only real issue here is access, and that can be solved by having an onsite coaching clinic at the championship.

Gambler said...

For the record, I think that coaching certification is a great idea. Especially teaching new coaches. Nonetheless, I think that some of the gripes about money and access are also covering up the fact that many coaches might not understand the benefit of attending one of these clinics (besides the requirement for being on the sideline during semis).

It would be nice to have someone who has gone through the coaching clinic to provide a personal perspective on what they gained from going through it. The three short "reviews" the UPA has on its website don't really provide much information for someone who has already been coaching for awhile (as most of the Nationals-aspiring coaches presumable would be).

From the UPA's website, it looks like they've put a lot of time into developing the clinic, and I think it makes sense to have a standard for coaches that are on the sideline of its showcase events.

Right now, it seems the only reason to get certified is the requirement. I'm sure there's a lot more value than that, so hopefully someone who's been through it can enlighten us all a bit more.

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