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Partners in Pride: How Throw Pink is bringing disc golf to underrepresented communities

Partners in Pride: How Throw Pink is bringing disc golf to underrepresented communities

This year’s Pride Collection is a collaboration between Savage and some of our partners that also care deeply about LGBTQIA+ rights. We called this effort “Partners in Pride,” because the focus is on working together to spread awareness, raise funds, and increase visibility and inclusivity in sports.

We’ve worked with each one of our partners to create unique Pride jerseys that they can promote to their followers in the hopes that we can increase exposure to the cause. We will also be running a series of blog posts highlighting how each of these organizations works to support the LGBTQIA+ community. 

First up, we spoke with Sara Nicholson, co-founder of Throw Pink, about using sports to advocate for women’s health and their mission to grow the sport and make disc golf more accessible and inclusive across all genders, ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 


How did you get into playing disc golf? What drew you to the sport?

Sara Nicholson: I was first introduced to disc golf by my brother. I learned to play during my summers working out in Yellowstone National Park.

My family is very competitive. We love playing games. From baseball to board games — anything with a score. What hooked me about disc golf right away is that you can play by yourself, with a group, just for fun, or in an organized competition. I love being outdoors. Disc golf combines my love for sports and nature into one beautiful and fun activity.

 Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Charity Tournament Event

 

What inspired you to use disc golf as a way to build awareness and help fight cancer?

SN: My Grandmother had breast cancer when I was born. My parents named me after her. Cancer has always been a conversation in my family. When I ran my first women's event in 2011, I paired it with a local breast cancer charity. I was overwhelmed with the amount of support the charity received from the disc golf women. Throw Pink was born out of that event. Being able to combine something that you love with something that makes an impact is an amazing feeling. Since that first event, Throw Pink has evolved to focus on all aspects of women's health initiatives.

 

How have you and Throw Pink been involved with the LGBTQIA+ community? Why is this important to the organization? Why is this important to you? How do you hope to grow your involvement in the future?  

SN: I have always personally been an advocate and supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our partnership with Savage is Throw Pink's first initiative specifically geared toward the community. We hope this is only the beginning of our outreach and support. 

Disc golf has the potential to provide fulfillment, growth, fun, and health to people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities. Disc golf can be played successfully by all ages and skill levels. Most disc golf courses are free, and you only need one disc to play. It is truly one of the most inclusive and accessible sports. 
At Throw Pink, we try to be intentional about engaging new players. Since our inception, our volunteers have hosted 72 events with 3,451 participants in 21 states, and three countries. This is just the beginning. Our goal is to be in every city, state, and country on the planet to give more women and girls access to the growth experienced through sports and outdoor recreation. Lofty, I know, but I'm only 42, I have at least another 40 good years to make this happen. 
We pair our events with local charities — raising money and introducing disc golf to their communities. We look forward to using this same model to introduce disc golf to more members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Partners in Pride Throw Pink Rainbow Disc Golf Jersey  

 

What’s unique about being a woman or queer athlete in disc golf? How do you think the LBGTQIA+ community in disc golf compares to other sports? 

SN: Women make up a small percentage of disc golfers, specifically competitive disc golfers. It's powerful how the women, and many of the men as well in the disc golf community, work together to grow women's participation in the sport.  

While the LGBTQIA+ community also makes up a smaller portion of the disc golf community as a whole, there are powerful queer voices amongst athletes, ambassadors, and members of the PDGA governing board looking to expand LGBTQIA+ involvement. We look forward to continuing to be a part of this.

 

 Throw Pink Women's Disc Golf Charity Tournament Event

 

Why is getting more women involved in disc golf so important? What are some of Throw Pink’s initiatives and programs designed to get more women interested in the sport?

SN: In addition to my work with Throw Pink, I also serve on the PDGA Women's Committee and the World Flying Disc Federation's (WFDF) disc golf committee and Women in Sport Commission. WFDF is putting in the work right now on some initiatives for gender equity in flying disc sports. I'm excited to be part of the conversation.

Giving more women and girls opportunities to participate in sports and outdoor recreation through the game of disc golf is my life's work. Sports provide essential health and developmental components (self-esteem and confidence) that many girls are missing out on due to the lack of programs and resources in their communities.

It's not just about the competition side of things, disc golf is fun to just play, and it's a great way to get exercise without even realizing you’re exercising. I would love to see more women out on the course.

Our fun clinics provide an environment in which all who participate can feel safe and welcome. This helps encourage new players to the game. We also work with youth initiatives, start them young. Our Throw Pink team was formed to promote more women's leadership in the sport by supporting and training more women to be event directors in their communities. If women see other women doing it, they'll be more encouraged to try it.

 

What are your thoughts on getting the LGBTQIA+ and POC communities more involved with playing disc golf? What initiatives does Throw Pink take to foster inclusivity and diversity?  

SN: Disc golf is for everyone. I would love to see the demographic that plays disc golf to be a better representation of the human beings on the planet.

At Throw Pink, we try to create a fun and safe atmosphere for new people to experience and learn the game of disc golf. We host a variety of different events in the hopes of finding a format that appeals to everyone. 


How can other organizations help bring disc golf to a more diverse community? 

SN: Reach out to us. We can help you bring disc golf to your community.

 

What are your hopes for the future of the sport?

SN: Positive growth. More people from all walks of life playing. More communities getting behind the fun outdoor recreation that disc golf provides.

 

Shop the Throw Pink Pride Jersey and the rest of our Partners in Pride Collection. A portion of all sales will be donated to the Center for Black Equity and Side by Side.

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No Tomorrow is Promised: The Tragic Loss and Inspiring Perseverance of AUDL’s Mechanix

No Tomorrow is Promised: The Tragic Loss and Inspiring Perseverance of AUDL’s Mechanix

2020 started out as a year full of promise and exciting change for AUDL’s Mechanix — the team was growing and relocating to a new city, and couldn’t wait to get out on the field. Then suddenly, on Feb. 29, 2020, an unimaginable tragedy struck. Michael Cannon, Drew Piet, and Kevin Coulter — three beloved team members of the Mechanix — were traveling to weekend practice in Detroit when their car was struck from behind by another vehicle on I-96. The injuries sustained in the collision proved to be fatal. Coulter was pronounced dead on the scene and Piet and Cannon remained on life support until their organs could be donated. 

Almost immediately after that horrific car crash, while still mourning the loss of three of their teammates, the team suddenly faced a whole new challenge — the COVID-19 pandemic.  With AUDL games and practices suspended for the foreseeable future and strict social distancing measures in place, the Mechanix family had to find new ways of coming together while remaining apart. 

AUDL Mechanix Ultimate Frisbee Team Roster Photo

Yet, despite the challenges and tragedies, the Mechanix story isn’t one of sorrow, but one of perseverance, resilience, solidarity, and strength. More than a team, the Mechanix consider themselves a family, an ethos perfectly summed up in their mantra of “We Before Me.” Together, they’re determined to get through these trying times through their unity and positivity, and come out stronger on the other side. 

The new Mechanix Memorial Collection is a loving tribute to the three teammates they lost, a testament of the team’s strength, and a reminder that “No Tomorrow is Promised,” so always make the most of today. A portion of all proceeds will go to a memorial fund for the families of Michael Cannon, Drew Piet, and Kevin Coulter — the three players that died in the crash.

We recently spoke to Brent Steepe, the General Manager of the Mechanix, to learn more about the new collection, moving the organization to a new city, and how the team is coming together to forge ahead.


Savage: What was the inspiration behind this new collection? What does the black ribbon signify? Tell us what “We Before Me” and “No Tomorrow is Promised” means to you and to the team. 

Brent Steepe: 2020 has been a challenging year for the Mechanix as a whole, and myself as a leader in the organization.  

The season was off to a tremendous start: we made thorough changes throughout the organization, even relocating the organization itself to Grand Rapids, MI. The year began with new athletes, new personnel, and a return to active coaching for me, marking my 10th year with DMX. Little did we know that the season was to be riddled with both challenge and loss.  

More energy and dedicated effort were placed into the Mechanix than ever before — not only practices and workouts, which were the norm — we also doubled-down with weekend retreats and "get to know your team" assignments throughout the week. Then, while we were at practice, the call came. Three of our players — one of whom I had worked with for multiple seasons and teams — were gone. Sass (Kevin) was family, and Drew and Mike were well on their way to becoming that as well.   

Then, in a flash, it was forgotten as COVID-19 was announced, turning our sport and our world on its side. Just as quarantine had become the "new normal", we got another shock to the system. My personal friend and team lawyer, Daniel P. Marsh, was gone. Dan had been with us since 2012, and he and his family were champions of both the Mechanix and the sport. To say that this has been challenging really does the journey a disservice. Yet the resilience of the team, the staff, and specifically my co-coach Gerald Chizmadia have been an inspiration for all who hear the story. They are a championship-caliber group of ladies and gentlemen, and I am excited to see their passion for the sport ignite in this time of uncertainty. Thus, the "Memorial Collection" is born, as it is these events that drive our passion and inspire us to grow beyond ourselves. 

AUDL Detroit Mechanix Team Jersey Memorial Jersey for three teammates that died in car accidentThe Black Ribbon is the memorial for the numbers our fallen brothers would have worn this year. Cannon 91, Sass 55, Piet 8.

"We Before Me" is the mantra of the Mechanix, a call to action placing our teammates and families first in our lives, recognizing that together we are greater than alone, so let our priorities reflect this in our actions.

"No tomorrow is promised" is a statement said to the gentlemen on a regular basis and throughout meetings and events. Little did I know how much more gravity those words would have after this spring. The time is now, this moment, this blink to make your activities and outcomes align, as a new day brings with it both new circumstances and conditions, some of which may not be favorable to your current passion and path. The team has embraced these phrases and adopted them into many aspects of team and life.

 

Savage: How has the team and the organization been getting through these tough times?   

BS: We have each other. We seek to understand each other and the importance of each aspect of the lives of our teammates. We support and rely upon each other and our families equally, creating a unity that is unlike anything I have experienced in over three decades of sports, athletic training, and coaching.


Savage: What are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2020?  

BS: Watching this team… this family… succeed both on and off of the field.

 

Savage: The Mechanix has a new home! How do you feel about the Mechanix leaving Detroit and moving to another city? What impact will this move have on the team as a whole?

BS: There is excitement and new life to the organization, as it allows us to reset our organizational plan, as well as align with a very robust Ultimate community and youth programming. We are partnering with local athletes, the Grand Rapids Ultimate group (GRU), and ZigZag Ultimate, one of the finest youth organizations that I have had the pleasure of working within recent times.

AUDL Mechanix Team Ultimate Frisbee Game photo

 

Savage: What do you think are going to be the biggest changes in the new season once it starts? For the Mechanix and the AUDL/Ultimate as a whole?

BS: With COVID-19, a new experience for both the players and fans will be the central theme of the AUDL this year, and perhaps many more to come. As a team, we seek to continue to deliver safe, fun, and exciting family entertainment in the realm of professional ultimate, and through our school, youth, and community programs we seek to find ways to inspire growth in our sport through participation and exposure. We are reignited...One Team, One Chain.


Shop the Mechanix Memorial Collection. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a memorial fund for the families of the three players that they lost.

All team photos by Elizabeth Maryland Photography

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Disc Golf Pro Tour is Back! Here’s What You Need to Know

Disc Golf Pro Tour is Back! Here’s What You Need to Know

Some much-needed good news came to the Disc Golf community today when Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) made the big announcement that they will return to Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) Elite Series sanctioned play this June. The Tour came to a grinding halt on March 13, 2020, in the middle of the Waco Annual Charity Open in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disc Golf Pro Tour’s announcement came on the same day as the PDGA update that 23 states and 11 countries are now available for PDGA sanctioning. While we’re starting to see sports and other businesses open up again, COVID-19 is still a major concern and both the PDGA and the DGPT have presented detailed plans outlining new policies and best practices to keep players and staff safe during events. 


The Disc Golf Pro Tour will restart in the Midwest in Emporia, KS, with a brand new event — The Dynamic Discs Open on June 26-28. The San Francisco Open and Portland Open have both been canceled in order to stay in alignment with local government guidelines. The Portland Open will be replaced by another new event — the Preserve Championship in Clearwater, MN on July 3-5. The Jonesboro Open has been rescheduled to Oct 1-3. With these changes, the DGPT will continue to have an Elite Series consisting of 11 events, as originally planned. The Tour also plans on keeping 7 of 9 original Silver Series events for a schedule of 18 total events in 2020. 


To protect the safety of players, staff, and volunteers, the DGPT has outlined a detailed three-phased approach to resuming play. When the Tour resumes in June with Phase 1, there will be strict precautions in place. The Phase 1 guidelines include:

  • Spectator-free events
  • No caddies
  • Sanitization of common surfaces and hand sanitizer available during play
  • Enforcement of social distancing measures, requiring all players, staff, and media to stay at least 6 feet away from each other at all times 
  • Group sizes will be limited to three
  • Field sizes will be reduced for speed of play and to allow for better social distancing

The DGPT will also provide optional COVID-19 testing for all players. If any player shows possible symptoms of COVID-19 or has come into contact with someone who has tested positive, testing and a negative result will be required in order to participate in the event. 


Once state and local governments declare that it’s safe for gatherings of 50 or more people, Phase 2 of the DGPT safety procedures will go into effect. During Phase 2, limited spectators will be allowed and players will be grouped into foursomes. Testing, social distancing, and sanitization procedures established in Phase 1 will continue in Phase 2. 


While it will be quite different than what we’ve seen in past years, we’re unbelievably excited to see the Tour return. As a DGPT partner and with several members of our Savage Squad participating, we’re unbelievably excited about this news and for the future of Disc Golf. We can’t wait to follow the coverage and cheer everyone on while social distancing in our homes.

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A Phase of College Ultimate May Be Over, But We’re Ready to Focus on What’s Ahead

A Phase of College Ultimate May Be Over, But We’re Ready to Focus on What’s Ahead

In the four years I’ve been attending the High Tide Ultimate Tournament as a Savage employee, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things happen — but 2020 is the year I know I’ll always remember. The spread of COVID-19 ended this year’s tournament two weeks early, and most of us also recognized it could mean the end of the college season as well. For many seniors, it was a heartbreaking moment. 

There was a distinct shift at the tournament among players and staff as we all began to process what was about to happen. There was a deep feeling of mourning as news spread that not only was the tournament ending, but schools were closing their doors for the foreseeable future, effectively ending the college Ultimate season.

It’s natural for players to obsess over what didn’t happen, or what could’ve been. I know I’ve struggled with this myself. For some players, it may be the last time they see some of their seniors for a long time. For some seniors, it’s the last time they’ll be playing with some of their teammates. 

But this is what I keep thinking about, and why I’m grateful that I was at High Tide at this moment in time: Witnessing the love players have not only for each other, but also for their opponents at this event, has been life-changing. This truly is a special sport we play. From seeing teams treat a fun Spring Break tournament like it was their last Nationals run, to crying with new players on my old college team, High Tide 2020 was unforgettable. 

It’s painful to think about, but we ought to stay positive, keeping this in mind: Our family of Ultimate players may just be one of the most tight-knit sports communities in the world. I — and the rest of the Savage team — love to come to Myrtle Beach not just to interact with you all and see you play some of the wackiest “games” of ultimate possible, but to be reminded of how much we love this sport ourselves. 

Seniors, addressing you all directly for a moment, we want to offer our sympathy for the abrupt end to some of your seasons. While this is the end of one chapter, we can assure you there’s so much more in store for you. Look forward to joining new teams, new players to befriend, plays to make, and yes, more tears to be shed. 

For now, make sure you leave your teams in a better state than you joined them. Leave a lasting impression for the younger crowd, and continue to be the leaders you wanted when you started playing. While the season’s ending early can lead to questioning of what might’ve been, it’s pointless to wonder about the unknown. Try not to mourn the fact that this chapter is over. It’s better to focus on the incredible times we had, celebrate the fact that you got to experience it, and that you have so much to look forward to. 

It’s crucial during times like this that we hold our favorite people and memories close to give us comfort. We can and probably will feel sad thinking about it, but remember: This community doesn’t end with college. One of the things I love most about Ultimate is that it’s truly a year-round sport if you want it to be. With almost unlimited access to seasonal leagues, club tryouts, and even just casual pickup, Ultimate has never stopped growing — and this will not stop it. 

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay Savage. 

 

Written by Savage's Production/Order Rockstar, Nick Evans 


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Avery Jenkins on the Love of the Flying Disc

Avery Jenkins on the Love of the Flying Disc

Disc sports are meaningful to all of us who love disc golf and ultimate, regardless of whether you’re throwing a disc or a Frisbee.

The feeling of the balance, the speed, the power and the throw. The ability to have “ultimate” control over the thrown object’s line, the height and the angle of the release. It’s the “beauty of flight” that has us in awe and coming back for more!

I’ve been playing frisbee since the age of five, whether it was playing catch with my parents or disc golf putting games in the backyard. It was the art of throwing that initially excited me at a young age, but it was the actual game play that had me most intrigued. It’s incredible how a simple flying toy can captivate us to the point of utter amazement, yet it’s something that none of us will completely master no matter how much we practice. Now that’s exactly why I respect most all in the disc sport disciplines.

I started playing disc golf soon after throwing my first Frisbee, because that was the sport that my parents played, so it became just another athletic activity that I enjoyed among basketball, football and baseball. It took me a while to understand how truly unique it was compared to other sports, and how many fewer people actually knew about it, but I think that’s what made it special. It wasn’t long after that I realized that I enjoyed the challenge and the competition especially against players much older than me. This is what inspired me to excel within the sport and chase that feeling of winning.

The competition drove my want to be the best for many years, the true nature of sport. I traveled, played and won tournaments all over the world, being considered one of the Top 10 players in the game but still trying to get better at the sport that I loved most.

It wasn’t until I started playing ultimate at the University of Oregon in 2005 that I got to witness the most athletic of all disc sports. A sport that made me realize how much I love throwing, and a sport that tested not only my shot-making ability but my overall athletic ability with the non-stop action. Ultimate was something that I would play with friends when I was younger, but unfortunately I never had an organized club in high school to participate in growing up.

Playing ultimate at the college level provided me with new challenges, because not only was it very physical, but it was very strategically mental as well. A non-contact sport that takes a toll on the body like no other with the running, the cuts and the full layout catches—it’s phenomenal to witness and even better to experience it.

I only played ultimate for two seasons before graduating, but I can absolutely say without a doubt that this sport made me a much better disc golfer. I was in the best shape of my life as it most definitely gave me increased stamina and endurance on the course. It also refined the technique and power of my forehand throws. It was the combination of everything along with radiating confidence that led me to winning some of the biggest tournaments of my career, a Disc Golf World Title and the No. 1 ranking in the world!

Disc golf vs. ultimate... These disc sports are completely different in almost every way except for the very thing that they have in common, the flying disc. It’s the love of the throw and watching a Frisbee fly that brings us together. So whether you’re an ultimate player or a disc golfer, I highly recommend that you give the other sport a try. Who knows? You might just find something special that has been missing from your life all along.

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