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OUR BLOG

  • Writer's pictureUtah Wild

2023 Year In Review

Take a look back with us on what has been another incredible year with our Wild community! While the players get the spotlight on the field, Utah Wild would not have happened without the support and involvement of our volunteers, community, and sponsors. This is our second annual year in review, where we intend to provide transparency on team activities and shine a light where we can grow in the year to come.


As we grow, we continue to remain focused on our mission:

To advance visibility, equity, and high-quality competition for diverse women and nonbinary players within the sport of Ultimate. We work to connect with local communities and cultivate sustainable relationships to support the equitable growth of women’s sports within the Mountain West.

Professional Team Events

This year brought immense success on the field for our professional roster! In 2023, we brought on a team of 24 roster players and 13 practice players from Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. As a regional team, preparation for the season took place over three team practice weekends and local pod practices. During the season, Utah Wild traveled to five away games, and hosted five WUL games at home in Salt Lake City, three of which featured Utah Wild. This year the Wild was undefeated at home! Utah Wild fans showed up in force to thirteen watch parties in Salt Lake City, Boise, Missoula, and Denver, as well as three after parties in Salt Lake City. Our games in the 2023 season averaged about 4,500 online views on YouTube. It’s not too late to watch the recorded games on the WUL YouTube page if you missed them. 


After beating our in-conference competitors Oregon Onyx and Colorado Alpenglow, the Wild took our first trip to Championship Weekend! Traveling to Seattle for a weekend of competition, we took home fourth place in the league! We couldn't have done this without the work of all of our players, but Molly Robbins and Paige Kercher were recognized as the Western Ultimate League Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the year, respectively!


As we write this, we are thriving off of the energy of a freshly-selected 2024 slate of players, after running tryouts this November - we can't wait to announce and celebrate them soon! The Western Ultimate League has transitioned to a new Executive Director in Megan Andrews, who has hit the ground running and has big things in store for our 2024 season! The WUL has also announced the unfortunate departures of Oregon Onyx and Los Angeles Astra from the league for the 2024 season. While team turnover is a normal struggle of early leagues, we hope to see them both back on the field in 2025 with refreshed community support!




Community Events

Beyond on-field play, Utah Wild aims to provide new playing opportunities for women and non-binary players of all skill levels and the whole ultimate community. In partnership with Ultimate Play we hosted a Kickoff 5v5 Tournament prior to our home opener and plan to bring this event back for 2024! We also brought back our Spring Goalty league in Salt Lake City, and hosted our third annual Fall Goalty League in Salt Lake City with record participation! We also hosted two pre-tryout mixers in Salt Lake City and Provo. In addition to local community events, Utah Wild also ran Ski Town Classic, a staple of USAU Club competition which brought 40 teams from around the country across the women’s, mixed, and men’s divisions. Lastly, we were so excited to be a part of the High School National Invite that was hosted in Salt Lake City this June! It was a year of great ultimate all around!


She Plays Here

This year we were lucky enough to join the “She Plays Here” team, a group of Salt Lake City residents, business owners, and professional sports teams for women athletes that petitioned the city of Salt Lake to take over the lease for Smith’s Ballpark after it was announced that the Salt Lake Bees Baseball team would be moving in 2025. Partnering with the Utah Falconz football team, Utah Vipers rugby team, Salt Lake Roller Derby, the Women’s Premier Soccer League, Girls Tackle Football, and more has come with newfound solidarity and community. With the support of Maven District, the Colmena Group, and Kimball Investment we submitted a proposal to the SLC mayor and city council to transform the existing ballpark into a space that would serve all of our teams as well as the broader community in the BallparkNEXT competition. With the support of fans and supporters across the state, our idea won the competition! Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean it will be automatically enacted, but we are still eagerly engaging with the city in hopes they see the value in this proposition that we do. You can learn more about this plan on the Maven District website.


Outreach

A major focus of our mission is to “connect with local communities and cultivate sustainable relationships.” A key element of this is to engage with not only the ultimate community, but also other youth and community organizations. In 2023, Utah Wild exposed hundreds of new people to the sport we love as we:

Looking ahead, we will continue to deepen these relationships and share the sport of ultimate more broadly across Utah and the Mountain West.




Volunteers and Staff

Successfully running a season and these activities would not have happened without the countless hours and energy of Utah Wild players, coaches, staff, board, and community volunteers. In 2023, the Wild coaching staff consisted of two head coaches, one assistant coach, a film specialist, and a coaching intern. The team retained six paid staff to manage team and event logistics alongside the work of the six board members to plan and execute the season. Our home games employed 105 volunteers over three days in roles ranging from set up and take down, scanning tickets, selling merch, and commentating in the booth. Finally, we had 51 volunteers assist with running SkiTown Classic and keeping it the high-quality experience that players expect. We want to send a big THANK YOU to all of our volunteers and staff for helping us put on a successful inaugural season.




Sponsors and Budget

Finally, we want to provide you with a look into the financial picture for the team. All told, expenses for 2023 totaled just over $80,000, split across staff costs (15%), travel (36%), fundraising and outreach event hosting (38%) and business expenses (10%). Income totaled just over $80,000, with major categories including sponsorships (15%), ticket sales (10%), merchandise sales (9%), fundraising events (40%), Be A Megafan fundraiser (19%), and donations (6%). In particular we want to recognize our 2023 sponsors for their support:

  • Visit Salt Lake

  • Vacasa

  • Utah Sports Commission

  • Breakmark

  • Bewilder Brewing

  • Strive & Uplift

  • Suja Juice

  • Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers Midvale

  • Handy and Handy Attorneys at Law

  • We Win Injury Law

  • Discraft

  • All of the companies that donated items to our Silent Auction


Despite the health of our financial picture, we want to highlight that over half of our income came from fundraising events, which are labor intensive and require sustained volunteer effort throughout the calendar year. For the long term health of the team, our goal is to transition from one-time donations and individual fundraising events to more sustainable forms of revenue such as monthly, subscribed donations or large dollar donations as well as increased corporate sponsorships. Developing the relationships required to receive this level of funding takes time and effort, and any help you can provide to connect us with sponsors or advocate for us to potential funding sources is hugely helpful in sustaining the Utah Wild organization.


Looking Forward

Utah Wild had a very successful 2023 season and we are aiming to build on that solid foundation as we look toward another year. There are a few key opportunities where we could use additional support:


During a time when it is normal for start-up teams to experience burnout and slowed growth, we are so grateful for the sustaining and increasing support we have recieved from our community. The state of the team is strong, and we can’t wait to continue to grow with you in 2024!

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