We had the good fortune of connecting with Corey Atkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
…Ultimate frisbee—or simply “ultimate”—is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Now more than ever, there are a variety of ways in which players can get involved with the sport, whether it’s playing recreationally, competitively, or professionally. The Western Ultimate League, founded in 2020, allows women and non-binary players on the West Coast to represent their own cities in an annual 3-month season, highlighting some of the very best athletes in our sport.
Back in July 2019, a group of ultimate players from Seattle, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Portland, San Francisco and Arizona began meeting bi-weekly. Our topic of discussion? Establishing a professional ultimate league for trans athletes of all genders, women, and non-binary players on the West Coast. As members of the community ourselves, we wanted to build a league that was athlete-focused and community-centric—one that put women, non-binary folks, and people of color in positions of power. We also knew that it had to be high-quality and sustainable. From there, we built the Western Ultimate League (WUL) from the ground up. WUL Commissioner Felicia Yang displayed remarkable project management and leadership skills as she kept each of the league’s seven participating cities moving forward in forming their own professional teams.
In San Diego, a small group of local ultimate players, including myself, spent months developing our organization’s mission, vision, and brand. By 2020, we had co-founded Super Bloom Ultimate, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and its affiliated professional ultimate team, San Diego Super Bloom.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Our board has found strength in task delegation and responsibility-sharing. As Board President, I have the privilege to both manage projects and get my hands dirty in a little bit of everything. But by having Board members managing each branch of the organization, we’ve been able to run our organization more smoothly and efficiently.
Zoe Tessler has spearheaded community outreach, managing partnerships with local ultimate organizations and social groups. Abe Shklar has utilized his connections in the greater San Diego community to lock down sponsorships and secure field spaces for our organization’s events. Frankie Scully has been our voice in conversations around league DEI policies, leveraging their own experiences in equity work to guide our organization. Rayna Wachs, heavily experienced in copywriting and content creation, built and manages our website. Finally, Henry Argestinger, our newest Board member, has taken ownership over home game logistics. By allowing each contributing member to do the things that they do best and most enjoy, we’ve set our organization up for success.
We’ve also found that by maintaining separation between Super Bloom Ultimate, our organization, and San Diego Super Bloom, our professional team, we’ve made it easier for each entity to fulfill its own goals. The coaches we’ve hired this year have been absolutely phenomenal; they’ve managed this year’s team with skill and grace, and they’ve allowed the Board to focus on our own organizational responsibilities.
When it all comes together, there is no greater feeling than to watch our community gather in a stadium and cheer on our amazing athletes who represent San Diego. We are so proud of the product that Super Bloom has been able to deliver, and we’re very grateful to the athletes, coaches, and community members who have contributed to our success. If you’d like to connect with us, please follow us on social media, and don’t hesitate to reach out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The biggest takeaway for me throughout this journey is that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen! At the end of the day, it turned out that the best path to start a West Coast ultimate league was to band together and create the league ourselves. In this way, the WUL is a grassroots movement, created by and for the very people it serves.
Today, Super Bloom continues to be powered by similar grassroots efforts; in fact, our entire organization is 100% made up of volunteers. At this time, I’d like to shout out all of the incredible people who have dedicated countless hours over multiple years to build our organization into what it is now. There is no feeling quite like building something that you are truly proud of from scratch, alongside such loyal friends and respected colleagues.
Abe Shklar, Rayna Wachs