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CUSB Ultimate Sponsorship


Ultimate Frisbee teaches many life lessons: about honesty, fair-play and that being competitive and ambitious doesn't have to be in contrast with being a good and decent person.

Peldi making a diving catch
Our founder Peldi making a diving catch, a loooong time ago... :)

The Ultimate scene in Bologna, Italy (where about half of Balsamiq employees live) is now the biggest and strongest in Italy.

To give back to our local community, we have decided to sponsor the CUSB Bologna Ultimate organization for the next 3 years. We will update this page with their progress with us twice a year.

What is Ultimate Frisbee?

Ultimate Frisbee is an intense, spectacular and fun team sport. One of its most important rule has to do with the Spirit of The Game, a stronger version of sportsmanship and fair play. Thanks to this, Ultimate is the only team sport we know of that doesn't have referees, even at the highest levels (although things have changed a bit recently).

Women playing frisbee
Boys plaing frisbee
Kids playing frisbee

What does CUSB Ultimate do to teach Ultimate?

CUSB is the University of Bologna's sports organization, with a mission to promote sport culture, reach physical and emotional well being, and have fun.

CUSB Ultimate is the biggest Ultimate club in Italy, and works towards the development of the sport, from middle school to masters.

Twenty-five instructors work during the school year in 22 middle schools and 30 high schools of Bologna, reaching almost 6,000 students during their PE lessons. Students can also join after-school classes.

They learn how to play and how to respect the Spirit of the Game: know and respect the rules, play fairly, play safe and communicate respectfully.


Summer 2020 Update: Support Women's Ultimate

Laura Farolfi Laura for the Balsamiq Team

For 2020, CUSB decided to invest the Balsamiq sponsorship on recruiting and retaining young girls and highlighting female role models and proposed that I actively collaborate as coordinator of all the activities related to women's ultimate.

Even if the results of the senior women team are great, and the same we can say for the players' awards, there is still a lot to do on the road to gender equity. Unfortunately, numbers don’t look nice: only 20 of the 100 CUSB under-17 players are female.

There are many reasons for that. For example, some sports are perceived as “for boys”, and others “for girls”: ultimate is definitely seen as a sport “for boys”. Girls are more likely to join together with friends, or if they have a female coach at school (there are not many ultimate frisbee female role models on tv 🙂). They are more likely to stay if they play with other girls. The facilities need to be close to where they live, but if there are not enough players it is not always possible to create a single-gender team for each area of the city. The regional context is also a factor: there should be a local or regional competition for each age to keep the players interested in the sport - and it’s not the case for ultimate frisbee. Not yet.

There is a lot going on all around the globe about the challenges for women in sports and it is a very broad and complex theme. I believe it’s possible to positively contribute to it only by taking one small step at a time in the right direction.

Recruit and retain: the first under-17 women’s team

The main project of spring 2020 was the creation of the first U17 women’s team of the club.

After the kids attend the school lessons and join the afternoon courses, they are invited to play in a mixed-gender junior team near to where they live. Only a few players from each team are girls and sometimes it is hard for them to play with the boys.

Last year at CUSB we realized that grouping all the girls that were spread all around the city, we could at least try to lay the basis for one team. We decided to start with a year 0: create the group, let them know each other, and integrate new players right from school classes during the season.

Together with the coach of the team, Gaia, I invited players and parents to a meeting and proposed them to organize junior women’s free training twice a month. Balsamiq sponsored all costs: the facilities rent, the coach payment, and the transportation service for the players who needed it.

17 players (almost everyone we invited) joined the project! Before the COVID-19 emergency they had already trained 6 times together and were brainstorming the name of their future team ❤️.

Highlight female role models: online training projects

Starting from March 9th, field training was suspended due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Like many teams (and the whole planet), CUSB had to adapt their plans for the 2020 season. The staff had just a few days to plan remote activities and prepare in-home workouts for all teams. Besides the team-specific remote training - directly planned by the coach of the team depending on the level of the team and the likeliness to play a competition in 2020 - CUSB organized a few projects aimed to combine learning and engagement with the community:

  • A set of tactical lessons. Each coach of the club was assigned a topic and had to present their lesson to all the teams of the club. This project was important to share knowledge among the players but also increase awareness of the coaches' skills. There are a few female coaches at CUSB, but they mostly coach only the women’s teams, that’s the reason why this project was important also for gender equity.
  • Two lessons about the rules and the the Spirit of The Game.
  • The #UltimateSmartTraining social media project: an online training project.

#UltimateSmartTraining

Thanks to Balsamiq support, CUSB had funds to plan an online project for the community. Its goals were to engage with all the players and ultimate lovers, to provide high-level content, and, again, to highlight the skills of our coaches and trainers.

The idea was to select specific topics for online video lessons, invite the community to submit questions, and have different coaches reply online.

We were expecting that only players from Bologna would have submitted questions, but we’ve received many from members of other Italian teams.

The topics:

  • Body training and injuries prevention (guess what… a lot were about how to workout at home!)
  • Rules
  • Throwing and cutting skills
  • Video analysis and tactics (I was assigned this topic :)

The numbers:

  • 2 trainers
  • 6 coaches (3 women)
  • 6 x 15-minutes video training
  • 31 questions

The videos were shared and viewed on Facebook and Instagram: views and reactions were massive and the project had quite nice local media coverage as well. Here is the YouTube playlist (the videos are in Italian, though).


Winter 2019 Update: Cusb Wins the European Gold Both in the Men and the Women Division

Laura Farolfi Laura for the Balsamiq Team

2019 will definitely be remembered as a milestone year for the CUSB ultimate community.

All of the hard work pays off!

Every year, at the end of September, the best club teams in Europe battle for the European club title. In 2018, the CUSB women won the Championship and the guys placed 2nd.

It was a great result, considering that the teams from Bologna are always between the youngest teams, in terms of age average. Nevertheless, the expectations were pretty high this time, especially for the men's team CUSB La Fotta. When they reached Venice, where the competition was about to take place, they knew that they had to play at their best to improve upon last year's result.

Undefeated after the playoffs, the 26 players and the staff made it to the final. The tension was palpable when they faced for gold the team from London, reigning champions from 2012. But this time, things went amazingly differently! CUSB just played a perfect game, closing it with a score of 15-7.

"In 2018, after losing for the fourth time to Clapham in a EUCF final or semifinal, nobody knew what we had to do to beat them. They always seemed unstoppable and nobody had the right solution. We had tried different things every year, but we realized that we could only beat them if we changed our way of practicing and our mentality during practice." said Bruno Mine, captain of the team. "The six months coming up to the EUCF Finals were super intense. Most players had an average of three team practices and two gym practices every week. Everybody's mood was great and we started making practices much more demanding from a physical and mental point of view. We started thinking a lot about simple ways of modifying the drills: we really wanted to make them harder and as demanding as playing in an important game. We started keeping stats at practice, working on set plays, telling each player to work on their errors and to change their way of playing if they were playing particularly bad on a specific day. Practice quickly became very competitive and everybody was playing hard. Every player on CUSB La Fotta had been dreaming of winning the EUCF Final for years. We had always been so close but had never actually tasted it. Bringing this trophy to Bologna for the first time is an honor for all of us. All of our hard work has paid off."

The CUSB men team during the medal ceremony
The captain Bruno laying out during the final
"On defense all you have to do is try, even if it means breaking your wrist!" that's what Bruno said about this picture. Yes, he really broke his wrist!

CUSB La Fotta received also a good vote for their Spirit of the Game.

CUSB Shout stay on top

Making it to the top is hard but staying there is even harder... You enter the field as "the team to beat", it's very hard to perform under such pressure. It sounds very difficult, but it's doable, especially when you do it together, as a team.

One of the greatest life lessons of sports is to learn to dominate your fears and to actively work on controlling your mind.

This year, our road to the top has been really challenging, all the games we played ended with a maximum of 2 points of difference and during many of these games we were under and we had to recover. We also lost our first game. We won the semi by 1. During the final, we were even at 11. But then, something clicked in our minds: we scored 4 points in a row and just nailed it!

The women team celebrating after the win
The team captain holding the award

The award ceremonies

In the following months, we all celebrated a lot. I am not talking about wild parties (not only 😊).

The University of Bologna organized an official ceremony for us and the other CUSB European champions of the volleyball and basketball teams. The same did the President of our local Region a couple of weeks after.

Public attention is very important for the Ultimate community, not only for morale but also for the growth of what is considered a secondary sport. As media plays a key role in sports development, it is crucial for emerging disciplines to appear and be recognized.

Behind these successes, there's a lot of hard work, dedication, and trust. All of that is combined with the belief that it is possible to play at the highest level without a referee. In other words, it is possible to win without losing your sense of dignity and fairness. That's why we play, we coach and, as Balsamiq, we support this discipline. It's nice to see that the interest in our beloved sport is constantly increasing.

CUSB La Fotta captains with Julio Velasco and the Dean
CUSB Teams during the award ceremony
Players holding the medal after the ceremony
The University ceremony: our athletes and coaches with the Dean and Julio Velasco, the most iconic volleyball coach of our era. On the right, some of the players with the medal received by the Region authorities.

Looking back at the Italian Championship in June

There are three more achievements we are really proud of:

  1. CUSB Red Bulls, a men team, won the Spirit of the Game award of the Italian Championship
  2. CUSB Shout won gold AND the Spirit of the Game award of the Italian Championship
  3. CUSB History One won the Italian Under17 title

The future looks bright. 😊

CUSB teams after the Italian Championship 2019
CUSB HistoryOne with the Italian Under17 award

Full results of 2019 season

To recap, here is a full list of the results of the season.

CUSB Shout

  • 1st place Italian Championship + Spirit of the Game winner
  • 4th place Tom’s Tourney
  • 1st place EUCR-S (Qualifications of the Championship Finals)
  • 1st place Madunina Elite
  • 1st place EUCF (European Ultimate Championship Finals)

CUSB La Fotta

  • 1st place Italian Championship
  • 5th place Tom’s Tourney
  • 1st place EUCR-S (Qualifications of the Championship Finals)
  • 1st place Madunina Elite
  • 1st place EUCF (European Ultimate Championship Finals)

Other Club Teams

  • Italian Championship Spirit of the Game winner: CUSB RedBulls
  • CUSB Red Shot (La Fotta + Shout): 1st place Mixed Italian Championship
  • 1st place Italian Championship Under17: CUSB HistoryOne

Summer 2019 Update: Hacking Gender Equity

Laura Farolfi Laura for the Balsamiq Team

The Project - Intro

For the 2019 school-focused project, CUSB and Balsamiq agreed to invest in a project dedicated to high-school classes. We wanted to work closely with students and teachers - using the basics of the discipline as the starting point for an educational activity.

Ultimate frisbee is played mixed at the World Games (which is the pre-Olympics). Well, it is not easy to play mixed... especially for women. And, ultimate frisbee is usually played mixed in schools. Diversity is very important at Balsamiq and gender is a key element of diversity. So, together, we picked gender equity in sports as the theme.

I had the chance to help to organize the project, thanks to the Balsamiq Professional Development policy. We worked together with my friend Maya of Eurostars, a group of women and men whose mission is to promote gender equity in Ultimate and highlight women role models. She is the mind behind the Hacking Gender Equity session format. She also helped CUSB adapt the format to meet the characteristics of the high-school classes, and video chatted with all the coaches involved in the program, to answer their questions and doubts.

Hacking Gender Equity

The first step of the project consisted of training coaches. They had to get trained on the topic, and also on how to conduct a workshop, a few tips and tricks to make it work smoothly.

In the meantime, CUSB got in touch with the PE (Physical Education) professors CUSB usually works with. They sent them the project's presentation, selected 7 classes to meet, organized the calendar... the number of logistics behind these projects is incredible!

This is how the session was structured:

  1. Intro. The main goal of the introduction is to lay the ground for the brainstorming. That's the sentence that we used to introduce the discussion: "For me, gender equity means everyone has equal opportunities regardless of their gender. Most people can agree that we should all have equal opportunities. But we do not always agree what that means, how far we are from it, or how to get to a place where everyone has equal opportunities. And that’s ok. THERE IS NO ‘RIGHT’ ANSWER to gender equity. … It’s a mess :)" - and then we gave some examples to make them understand that we expected contributions from everyone, not just girls.
  2. Split into groups. We divided the students into gender-mixed groups of 6-8.
  3. Brainstorming 1: identify barriers for women in sports. After a couple of minutes of silence, they had to brainstorm all the barriers for women in sports and gender-related issues and differences.
  4. Brainstorming 2: choose one barrier and identify solutions. Then, they were asked to choose one of the barriers and brainstorm solutions. The solution could have been of three types: individual solutions (what you could do starting from tomorrow), as a class/group of friends, or suggestions for their professors and coaches (if they play sports).
  5. Sharing. Each group presented the barrier they chose and all the solutions.
Hacking Gender Equity Project
Hacking Gender Equity Project
Hacking Gender Equity Project
Hacking Gender Equity Project

Highlights

There is a long list of ideas, both barriers, and solutions, that inspired us. Some barriers were repeated more than once, like the lack of visibility of women's sports or the perception that sports are only for men because they are stronger.

Other ideas where more personal and touchy-feelings, or extremely critical. One female student mentioned, as a barrier, the fear of not being attractive if their body changes because of sports. Another was upset because she could not compete against the boys during her boxing class. One young CUSB athlete suggested us to change how we split the teams for our Summer league, not by gender, but based on the players' experience.

This is my personal highlight, that, in my opinion, goes straight to the point. "We don't have to think that a man has to play in one way, and a woman in another way. Instead, people have to think only about playing well".

Hacking Gender Equity Project

One of the coaches, at the end of the project, told me: "I was expecting to teach, but I ended up learning!". 😊

Overall, the project has been a success and CUSB was asked by the PE professors to repeat it every year, and officially include it as part of the ultimate frisbee high-school classes.

We'll keep you posted!


Winter 2018 Update: CUSB Shout European Champions 2018!

Laura Farolfi Laura for the Balsamiq Team

The Ultimate season 2018 is over, and we are really proud of the results of the CUSB teams.

For the first time ever, an Italian team wins the European Ultimate Championship Finals (a.k.a. Champions League), which was held in Wroclaw (Poland) on October 5th/7th. The women squad of CUSB made history with a 15-13 win in the final against Iceni from London. I've been playing in the team for the last 10 years, and I have never seen my teammates exploding in such a wild happiness.

The road to success passed through years of training, gym sessions, rules study, wins, losses, smiles, and tears. Years of team building and tournaments all over the world. That's what sport is about, it's about commitment and dreams. And respect for the opponent, what in Ultimate Frisbee is called Spirit of the Game.

Even in the European and World Championships, there are no referees. These tournaments represent the maximum of the effort in terms of competition, so they are the highest stage where not only players and teams fight the hardest, but they have to preserve and demonstrate sportsmanship and mutual respect. What makes us proud the most, is the fact that, not only we won the Championship, but we did it keeping the Spirit high, and we got voted 10.57 by our opponents (the goal is to maintain an average higher than 10).

The women's victory was not the only great news about EUCF. For the first time, CUSB won two spots in the Men division during the Qualifications. A team composed mostly by U20 players managed, not only to qualify for the Finals, but they reached the 10th position (out of 24 teams!).

The CUSB La Fotta team played the final as well, against Clapham from London, but sadly, they missed the gold medal just for a couple of points.

CUSB Shout with the Dean of the University of Bologna
CUSB Shout group picture with the Dean of the University of Bologna and Peldi
CUSB Shout with the Dean of the University of Bologna and... Peldi :)

As we anticipated in the last update, our route passed through Cincinnati in July, for the World Club Ultimate Championship. Thanks to the Balsamiq support, we had the chance to play the best clubs in the World, before coming back to Europe to claim the cup. Unfortunately, the Shout's result at Worlds was not the one we expected, as we missed the goal of the top 16 and we arrived at 21st. The guys, on the other side, did great in the US, reaching the 9th position, demonstrating that the Bologna Ultimate community is one of the best in the World.

CUSB at Wroclaw

Here is a recap of the 2018 results:

Cusb Shout

  • 1st place Italian Championship
  • 4th place Vienna Spring Break
  • 21st place World Ultimate Club Championship
  • 1st place EUCR-S (Qualifications of the Championship Finals)
  • 1st place EUCF (European Ultimate Championship Finals)

Cusb La Fotta

  • 1st place Italian Championship
  • 1st place Vienna Spring Break
  • 1st place Bologna Invite
  • 2nd place Windmill Windup Amsterdam
  • 9th place World Ultimate Club Championship
  • 1st place EUCR-S (Qualifications of the Championship Finals)
  • 2th place EUCF (European Ultimate Championship Finals)

P.S. We are already planning the 2019 season and the schools' project. The theme of the next year will be gender equity. :)


Summer 2018 Update: Early Recognition is Critical!

Laura Farolfi Laura for the Balsamiq Team

In 2018, after one year of partnership, I thought that we were ready for a bigger project, to give back even more to the Ultimate and Balsamiq community. I kept thinking that we could have impacted more, used all that time together with the students at its best. So, I proposed to Peldi to add another piece to the puzzle.

We decided to invite E.R.I.C. (Early Recognition is Critical) to collaborate with us. E.R.I.C. is a nonprofit organization which employs Ultimate Frisbee Clinics and Spirit of the Game to teach youth about cancer symptoms, the importance of an active lifestyle and to speak up when something is wrong.

The Spirit of the Game is the mindful behavior practiced by players. It encompasses attitudes and skills such as good knowledge and application of the rules, fair-mindedness, safe play, clear and calm communication, and respectful attitude towards teammates, fans, and opponents, in a mutual effort to protect the underlying joy of the game. It is the soul of the sport, what makes Ultimate Frisbee so special.

We designed and organized a 5-month project: teaching Spirit of the Game AND cancer recognition symptoms during the middle school Ultimate Frisbee afternoon courses. As E.R.I.C. is based in the US, we went through a long planning period, to be sure to find the perfect formula for the clinics, combining the CUSB coaches experience with E.R.I.C. expertise in Spirit of the Game and cancer recognition teaching.

E.R.I.C. teaching Spirit of the Game

Between February and May, the project took shape. The kids loved the Spirit of the Game lessons. The best part of this experience, according to the coaches' narratives, was to realize that the Spirit of the Game values is so natural and spontaneous for them. To learn the rules is fun, and the referee is honestly useless. Competitiveness, fun, and friendship can truly co-exist.

During the final tournament, we split the kids into small groups and the more experienced coaches (with a degree in Medicine or Sports Science), together with the teachers, gave a lesson about common cancer symptoms and the importance to speak up if they notice something wrong. This is what also the sport is about, to be aware of our body and to feel free to express our own feelings.

E.R.I.C. and the kids

The numbers of the project

  • 7 lessons:
    • What is E.R.I.C.
    • The 5 fundamentals of Spirit of the Game:
      • Know the rules
      • Avoid body contact
      • Enjoy playing
      • Be fair-minded
      • Communicate respectfully
    • Common cancer symptoms (together with the teachers)
  • More than 200 middle school players
  • 19 coaches involved
  • 300 SPIRIT stickers for the students and the teachers
  • 250 "What is Spirit" Handouts for the students
  • 100 Speak Up discs for the lessons.
Coach and kids with frisbees
Kids learning from the coaches

Here is a video about this adventure:


We'll share more news about the élite teams at the end of the club season, in autumn. Both the women and the men team will be playing the World Club Championship in Cincinnati, in July! Stay tuned!


Winter 2017 Update

Francesca Fabbri Fra for the Balsamiq Team

Balsamiq supports the élite ultimate frisbee teams CUSB Shout (women) and CUSB La Fotta (men). In each team play 22-24 players, the majority are from Bologna and have been playing since middle or high school.

CUSB Shout (women) team
CUSB La Fotta (men) team

The sponsorship money has been used for three main activities:

  • Purchase of new gear - with Balsamiq's happy smiley face on the left shoulder! 😊
  • Payment of the team fees for the Italian Championship and the European Champions League
  • Production of team videos and photos
CUSB Gear with Balsamiq logo

2017 Results

2017 was a great year for both teams!

CUSB La Fotta (Men's Team)

  • 1st place Italian Championship 2017 (and Spirit of the Game Winners) - Finals in Bologna (Italy), 27-28 May 2017
  • 11th place US Open – Blaine (MN), 4-7 Aug 2017
  • 2nd place Regionals - European Championship 2017 – Bern (Switzerland), 25-26 Aug 2017
  • 4th place European Championship Finals 2017 – Caorle (Italy), 29 Sep-1 Oct 2017
CUSB La Fotta celebrating

CUSB Shout (Women's Team)

  • 1st place Italian Championship 2017 - Finals in Bologna (Italy), 27-28 May 2017
  • 2nd place Windmill Windup Amsterdam Ultimate Tournament, 9-11 June 2017
  • 1st place Regionals - European Championship 2017 - Bern (Switzerland), 25-26 Aug 2017
  • 4th place European Championship Finals 2017 – Caorle (Italy), 29 Sep-1 Oct 2017
CUSB Shout celebrating their 1st place in Italian Championship 2017

Also, the Italian Under24 Men team won the silver medal at the under24 World Championship in Perth (January 2018). Fifteen out of the twenty-four players and the Head Coach Davide Morri were CUSB athletes.

CUSB Teams group picture

World Ultimate Club Championship 2018

The big news is that, as Italian Champions 2017, both CUSB La Fotta and CUSB Shout gained the Italian spot for the World Ultimate Club Championship 2018, which will be held in Cincinnati in July 2018! Part of the 2018 sponsorship money was used to pay the team registration and fees in December 2017.

The teams are now getting ready for the Italian Championship 2018 and at the same time training for the World Championship. The excitement is palpable at every practice.

Of course there will be expenses for the Championships, and we're glad that the financial support we provide will be useful for that, too.

Here is a video recap of their great successes from 2018:


Ultimate Frisbee is not only a fair, self-refereed and challenging sport. Ultimate Frisbee is a community. From the players to the fans, we all share the same values of mutual respect and a strong belief in honesty and positive competition.

Being part of this community, I grew up so much as an individual, on and off the field. And I grew up as a professional, working for two years on Ultimate Frisbee development for the University Sports Center of Bologna. During this period, I was in charge of managing the relationship with Peldi and the Balsamiq crew.

The best part of the job was to think about which kind of projects would sustain the team activities and fulfill the Balsamiq values at the same time. Now that I joined the Balsamiq team, I have the chance to write this update!


Summer 2017 update

Peldi Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

During the month of May 2017, CUSB organized 4 tournaments:

  • ELITE Ultimate tournament, for the afternoon high school groups: 11 High schools, 16 men teams, 5 women teams, for a total of 200 students.
  • ROOKIE Ultimate tournament, for high school teams: 4 days of qualification and 1 day of finals. 25 high schools: 60 men teams and 173 mixed teams, for a total of 3000 players.
  • The middle school afternoon tournament: 4 Saturdays, 16 schools: 16 mixed teams, for a total of 160 students.
  • The Middle schools Tournament: 15 schools, 48 mixed teams, for a total of 800 players.
CUSB Tournaments

The podium and spirit of the game awards were designed by the sculpture students of the local art school Liceo Artistico Arcangeli.

Celebrating a victory

Thanks to Balsamiq's support, CUSB Ultimate could buy all the necessary equipment to plan and organize these activities, including frisbees, awards, and promotional materials.