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.

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).

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 2019 Update: Hacking Gender Equity

- 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.


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".

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 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 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 21°. 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.

Here is a recap of the 2018 results:

Cusb Shout

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

Cusb La Fotta

  • 1° place Italian Championship
  • 1° place Vienna Spring Break
  • 1° place Bologna Invite
  • 2° place Windmill Windup Amsterdam
  • 9° place World Ultimate Club Championship
  • 1° place EUCR-S (Qualifications of the Championship Finals)
  • 2° 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 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.

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.

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.

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 2017-2018 Update

- 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.

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

2017 Results

2017 was a great year for both teams!

CUSB La Fotta (Men's Team)

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

CUSB Shout (Women's Team)

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

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:

Collaboration with E.R.I.C.

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 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.

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

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.