12 Questions with Bunny
After twelve amazing years with DiscNW, Bunny is stepping down as our Executive Director. To reminisce about the good times, we asked Bunny to answer one question for each year that he’s been at the helm. See what he had to say!
1. How long have you been playing ultimate, and what's your favorite throw?
I started playing in Corp League in 1999 with an Amazon.com team. Our first practice at Magnuson was on the Sports Meadow before it was renovated. There was a parking lot back by the bathrooms building. Bil Elsinger was there, and he later named the team (“Underwater”). I’m pretty sure Bil was the only one who could really throw. The team was mostly beginners.
Our first game was on the Utility Field in Shoreline near the stadium. It was against a UW team with Anne Marie Wissman and James Evans. I think Jeff and Sandra Dairiki were also on that team, too, but I’m not sure. Anyway, they crushed us. After the game, James gathered up our team (he could see that we needed help) and ran us through some drills and taught us some basic team strategy. That was really cool.
After Corp League, I played Fall Hat League. Then Verns and Spring League in 2000. I started playing a lot of ultimate pretty much right away.
My favorite throw has always been the forehand. My second favorite throw these days is the scoober, which used to be called the flipper. My “best” throw is the overhead wristflip as taught to me by Getty.
2. What's your favorite tournament to play?
Masters Nationals. I went for the first time in 2005 with the Keg Workers. We finished 3rd. That was in Sarasota back when Masters was part of the show along with Mixed, Women’s, and Men’s.
I won gold in 2006 with Throwback. Steve Finn scored a Callahan on double game point in the finals and made the cover of the UPA Magazine.
I played in the grandmasters division with Georgetown Brewing for a few years. This year I am playing grandmasters with Kalakala, and I’m super excited to go to the USA Ultimate Masters Championships in Denver, CO. It’s always fun, and it will be even more so now with the new divisions.
3. What's your favorite tournament to run?
Spring Reign is an amazing event to be a part of. All staff are there, and there are so many amazing volunteers. Players from Huckin’ Easy, Western Washington Chaos, Riot, Sockeye, and others help out every year. The whole community gathers to make the tournament a success.
Two of my absolute favorite people in Seattle ultimate are Spring Reign co-founders Jeff Jorgenson and Mary Lowry. They have inspired me. Their commitment to serve the Seattle ultimate community was contagious.
Spring Reign was the first tournament that I helped to organize. I volunteered in 2002. I set up fields on the Sand Point fields, as we called them then, at Magnuson (now where the cricket pitch is near fields 6 & 7). I think there were 32 teams, mostly middle school. Joe Bisignano did all the scheduling.
After the tournament was over, we put away the gear and met for a quick drink to celebrate the weekend. Just as we sat down, after great weather all weekend, it started pouring. It was an honest to goodness gulley washer. Mary, Jeff, and I shared a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. I think that was the moment that I caught the bug and knew I wanted to help run more ultimate events.
Not long after that year, we moved the tournament to Burlington. One year, we ran middle school and high school on different weekends. Often, it was just me, Jeff, Mary, and maybe someone else. Spencer Wallis came up one year and was a great help.
I remember being the last one to leave the fields and having that feeling again, feeling so satisfied for a job well done, having pleased so many families.
It snowed one year on Sunday, and we had to cancel games. A team from California had flown up that year. Rob Baril from Ulti Village was going to film the finals, too. We forgot to call him to let him know that the games were cancelled. When he got to the fields that afternoon, all the snow had melted.
4. How has DiscNW and the sport ultimate changed since you first took the helm in 2004?
The sport of ultimate has changed a lot. There is so much more information about ultimate that is readily available. We had the internet back then, but it was all pretty basic. You could look at almost every useful internet page about ultimate in a few hours. Nowadays, there are tons of videos, news sites, resources for coaches. And social media has really changed the way that teams and organizations communicate.
At DiscNW, we have a lot more youth programing than we used to. And on a related note, our fundraising went from ~1% of the budget to almost 10%. And when I started, we looked ahead month-to-month, season-to-season. These days, we have a three year strategic plan to guide our work.
5. You've grown DiscNW from a single staff member - you! - to four full time staff. What's your favorite memory of working with staff?
My favorite staff moment is that picture shown below. We weren’t working, but being with Wynne and Rusty in Sarasota at Nationals was a hoot. And I don’t usually go to the party, but I did this time. The party was on the beach. There was music, refreshments, and tons of ultimate people.
6. Best thing about working for DiscNW?
My bosses have been the best. The board of directors has always been supportive, helpful, and engaged. Not all nonprofits are so lucky to have a consistently strong board. A lot has changed over the years, and the board has evolved and grown.
I took a class in grad school about nonprofit leadership. One section of class was about problem boards. It was good to learn about, but I’m glad that I never had to use any of that information on the job.
And really, the Seattle Ultimate community is so amazing. Folks are so generous, spirited, and fun. It’s been wonderful to be a part of this community for so long.
7. Least best thing about working for DiscNW?
Lost and found*. I have some cool fleece pants that were left at a tournament and not claimed.
It is better when items are claimed, though, and I do love a good lost and found success story. It’s always been one of my favorite things about working Frisbee Central. People are so happy to get their stuff back, it’s hard not to smile along with them.
Some things are never turned in, but most are. One year at Potlatch, a woman lost her wallet on the first day. She came back frequently to see if it had been turned in. Finally, just after the finals were over, her wallet was turned in! Luckily, she came back one last time to check before heading out. It was the most emotional lost and found reunion of my career, and it’s one of my favorite work memories.
*For the record, Rusty manages most of the lost and found for DiscNW these days, not me.
8. What's most exciting about the future of DiscNW?
Mel Clark. We don’t have a lot of turnover on staff in general, much less at the ED position. So, this is a major transition. Having Mel to lead the staff and organization is truly exciting, and I am very happy for her, the organization, and the local ultimate community.
9. Your last day is at the end of June. What advice do you have for incoming ED Mel Clark?
Make sure to keep a proper budget for committee meetings. Our volunteers do a lot of work, and it’s the least we can do to feed them when we meet.
Make friends with everyone at Seattle Parks, Burlington Parks, Bellevue Parks, Metro Parks Tacoma, etc. These are important relationships for DiscNW. Parks folks are really nice, so this won’t be difficult.
Go to Ren’s gym to meet folks and/or take a class.
Right before or right after I became the ED, Jessica Dorr stepped down from the DiscNW board of directors. Her parting words included instructions to listen to Chris Burke, and I think that is still great advice. Chris recruited me to be a League Coordinator, and he really has helped me a lot over the years. I’m glad he is still our accountant and will remain part of the organization.
10. What will you miss most about being ED of DiscNW?
It’s been a blast being so closely connected to such a wonderful community.
I’ve been rewarded on the job knowing that my work makes it possible for thousands of people to play ultimate and have fun. I like to play, to experience the joy of play and team sports. And I like to help others to enjoy the experience, too. Organizing ultimate has a great way to do that.
And I will miss painting lines at Magnuson. A lot of my work has been done at a computer. It’s nice to have a visible impact on Seattle ultimate, literally.
11. What's next on your plate?
I’m really looking forward to going on a family vacation on the 4th of July weekend for the first time. Redmond is nice, but this summer we are choosing to head to Hat Island for a casual stay with friends. Maybe some pancakes on the plate for breakfast.
After a brief vacation, I’ll be writing a chapter in Joe Seidler’s next ultimate history book. It will be fun to work with him, Tony Leonardo, and others to document the fifth decade of the great sport of ultimate.
I plan to go on bike rides with my family. Maybe I’ll play some disc golf or go skateboarding - you know, cross training for GM Nationals.
Also, I need to find a new job, preferably one with a nice commute. I’ve been spoiled by working at home. It’s hard to beat a five second commute from the kitchen to my office.
12. Any last words for the community?
So long and thanks for all the fish.