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The Tampa Bay Cannons on stepping up to fight breast cancer and why Real Men Wear Pink

The Tampa Bay Cannons on stepping up to fight breast cancer and why Real Men Wear Pink

The Tampa Bay Cannons have a lot of heart. If you’re a fan of the team and follow them on social media, you’ve probably seen photos of them out marching for unity and equality, posting fitness tips to motivate us all to stay healthy while social distancing, and sharing pics with their favorite cereals as part of their Feeding Tampa Bay fundraiser. Using their platform to raise awareness and support causes that are important to them is a huge part of what makes the Tampa Bay Cannons who they are. 

One of the causes that is so important to the organization is raising awareness about breast cancer, particularly in often overlooked segments of the population, namely men and people of color. Through their passion for philanthropy and partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Cannons’ Real Men Wear Pink campaign began. Last year, for their Mother’s Day game, the team wore pink wristbands onfield, gave flowers to moms, sold pink gear, and donated full proceeds to ACS. This year, the plan was to take things even further — an ACS education booth at the game, a whole field full of players in pink jerseys, news coverage, 50/50 raffles, auctions, and more. The whole team was looking forward to ramping up their efforts to help raise even more awareness and working to raise their goal amount of $5000 to donate to ACS.

2020 hasn’t gone the way any of us expected. Vacation plans have been scratched out. Events have been canceled. Sports seasons have been postponed. While many of the disruptions that COVID-19 has had on daily life are pretty obvious, there’s also a ripple effect, and unfortunately, the Cannons’ fundraising efforts for the year have also been thwarted. But despite the COVID setbacks, they’re determined to do everything they can to help raise awareness, raise funds, and fight the stigma surrounding men and breast cancer. Because men do get breast cancer. About 1 in every 833 men, in fact. 

And that’s why this year, for Father’s Day, we’re launching the Tampa Bay Cannons Real Men Wear Pink jersey. To raise awareness, start a conversation, and raise critical funds to donate to ACS. With the rest of their grand plans on hold, jersey sales and direct donations are the primary ways you can help support the Cannons RMWP campaign. If you’re unable to donate, then sharing on social or simply having a conversation with a dad in your life this weekend are also amazing ways to help.

We recently spoke with Peter Masone, General Manager of the Tampa Bay Cannons, about the Real Men Wear Pink fundraiser and why this is such an important cause to the team. Read on below to learn more about their partnership with ACS and why it’s crucial for men to get involved in the fight against breast cancer. 

 

Tampa Bay Cannons AUDL Ultimate Frisbee Team Real Men Wear Pink Jersey

 

What is the Real Men Wear Pink fundraiser about? Why did the Tampa Bay Cannons decide to partner with the American Cancer Society for a pink jersey?

Peter Masone: In general, we have all been touched one way or another by cancer. Our involvement started simply with me looking to layer an existing charity interest with our team initiative to promote women in sports during a half-time women's scrimmage.  

However, if you look deeper into breast cancer statistics, approximately 2,600 men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Plus, about 520 men will die from breast cancer per year. Due to the lack of awareness and, jeesh who thinks of men when you say “breast cancer”!?, the mortality rate for men is much higher.  

White women are 100x more likely to be diagnosed than men and black women 70x more likely than black men. As you can see, awareness on all fronts is needed and having a men’s team taking up the cause helps create a sense of comfort to talk about potential issues more freely. 

 

How long have the Cannons been partnering with ACS? How did this partnership start and how has it grown? How has COVID-19 impacted your fundraising efforts?

PM: The partnership officially started last season, in 2019 after the move to Tampa Bay. Last year, we held a Mother's Day Pink event (and had another one on the schedule for this season). We gave flowers to all the moms who came out to the game. We also had our two Florida club partners — Fiasco and Tabby Rosa — play an 18-minute long half-time showcase. Basically, the whole weekend was all about women. Women in sport, moms, and health by the way of breast cancer awareness and fundraising. Everyone on the team wore pink wristbands to represent our dedication to fighting breast cancer. We sold pink merch and 100% of the profits from any pink merch sold were donated to ACS.

 

AUDL Tampa Bay Cannons Real Men Wear Pink Wristbands Mother's Day Game American Cancer Society Fundraiser

 

We also engaged in several remote fundraising events under the RMWP banner, as well as participated in the Making Strides walk in October. I believe, overall we were able to raise a modest $2500 through our various fundraisers.

This season, we planned to build on that foundation. On Mother's Day, ACS planned to have a large presence on-site for RMWP with a booth to help with awareness. Each game leading up to and after Mother’s Day, the RMWP Pinellas team would hold a 50/50 raffle. The intent was promoting the Mother's Day event and gaining maximum exposure to raise donations by just reminding people constantly PINK! Along with that, the Cannons were planning to wear their official pink jerseys that day. Naturally, we expected that to create some attention. We had the local news affiliate who is heavily active with ACS and Making Strides to shine a light on it. 

All this effort would culminate in October again at Making Strides where the team would show up to meet and greet, wear the pink jerseys, and be there for whatever the ACS wants to use for promotion. The grand plan is to auction the game-worn pink jerseys for more donations.

Minus some setbacks from COVID-19 delaying the start of the season, this is all still building and developing. Throughout the year, we expect to continue to build in partnership with ACS and the RMWP. 

 

What are your goals for this fundraiser?

PM: Honestly re-evaluating this due to the COVID delays. We were originally shooting for a modest $5000 total donations, but potentially moving to a more realistic goal due to the fundraising delays. Perhaps $2500 would make more sense with all the unknowns. 

(Editor’s note: I believe they can do it! Let’s all help them get to $5000!)

 

How can your fans get involved and support this cause?

PM: By purchasing pink Cannons gear! A portion of the proceeds will be donated directly to the ACS. Share our RMWP promotions to spread awareness and, if possible, donate!

 

Shop the Tampa Bay Cannons Real Men Wear Pink jersey. A portion of all sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

 

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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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Here's how much money you helped raise for anti-racism organizations

Here's how much money you helped raise for anti-racism organizations

Thank you for being such active agents towards change. 

We launched our anti-racism fundraiser on Friday, June 5 around noon. With the help of partners like L.A. Throwback Foundation, American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), and Major League Quidditch (MLQ), we were able to fund 500 free Black Lives Matter jerseys. By the time we stopped answering emails on Friday, we'd already received 150 requests.

We asked you to send us your donation receipts, and we got 'em! The emails flooded in with receipts totalling an excess of $25,000 of donations. You did this.

We also collected an additional $11,500 through our site in direct sales of these jerseys. As promised, we're donating every cent of that to organizations directly in the fight against racism and white supremacy. 

From this $11,500 collected in direct sales, we are making the following contributions, as directed by the donors:

  • $2,650 to Black Lives Matter
  • $800 to Black Trans Advocacy Coalition
  • $300 to Black Visions Collective
  • $500 to Center for Policing Equity
  • $750 to Color of Change
  • $1,250 to Equal Justice Initiative
  • $1,000 to L.A. Black Worker Center
  • $2,050 NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • $1,200 to National Bail Fund Network (Community Justice Exchange)
  • $1,000 to People for People

To add to an already awesome amount of donations collected, our supporting and promotional partners report a minimum total of an additional $7,500 in verified donations. 

That's over $43,000 donated by you, our community. And that's not enough. 

Please don't let your fight stop here. Keep showing up — keep learning, marching, donating, educating, believing — and keep taking the steps to make change happen around you. 

Like I said before, we got a lot of emails. I'm sure we missed some that should have received their codes for a free jersey. We had to let many people know that we had run out. But, don't let this discourage you. Your donations count and your activism counts. Keep up the good work and be on the lookout for the next release. 

We're not done yet, either. 

 (Photo credit: Joey Wharton Photography)

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With Partners in Pride, we hope to increase exposure to LGBTQIA+ causes 

With Partners in Pride, we hope to increase exposure to LGBTQIA+ causes 

Pride is a time to celebrate LGBTQIA+ voices, but 2020 offers an important reminder of Pride Month’s roots in protest. The event is a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which sparked the modern gay rights movement. With its focus on equality for all LGBTQIA+ people, Pride 2020 has a poignant connection with the growing movement for racial equality happening right now. 

Although we delayed launching our Pride collection for 2020 out of deference for the Black Lives Matter protests, we do want to take time to recognize the significance of Pride and the ongoing fight for equality. We fully support a greater focus on black and brown members of the LGBTQIA+ community, which is why a portion of this year’s proceeds will be donated to the Center for Black Equity.

For Pride this month, we decided to broaden our reach by collaborating with some of our partners that also care deeply about LGBTQIA+ rights. We’re calling this effort Partners in Pride, because the focus is on working together to spread awareness and raise funds.

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. Stay tuned to our blog over the coming weeks, as we plan to highlight how each of these organizations works to support LGBTQIA+ causes. Our 2020 Partners in Pride include:

In addition to our partner jerseys, Savage has created two Pride offerings, including a light and a dark option. A portion of proceeds from the sale of these jerseys will be donated to Side by Side, an organization in our hometown (Richmond, Va.) that focuses on creating supportive communities for LGBTQIA+ youth.

Check out our full Partners in Pride collection here.

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4 Reasons Why 2020 is Going to be the Best AUDL Season Yet

4 Reasons Why 2020 is Going to be the Best AUDL Season Yet

The first pull of the 2020 American Ultimate Disc League season is fast approaching, and we honestly can’t wait for April 4 to get here. Some major developments took place during the off-season, so we put together a quick breakdown of all the important news you might have missed out on while hibernating and/or frolicking in the snow. Be sure to check out our AUDL Partner Store, and keep reading to find out what’s new, what’s changed, and why 2020 is gearing up to be the best year ever for the AUDL. 

Savage Ultimate AUDL GreenLine Jerseys Official Apparel Store

The AUDL is Getting New Uniforms and Going Green With Savage

In a groundbreaking partnership, Savage signed a three-year deal to become the official on-field apparel company of the AUDL, as well as the official apparel merchandise partner for the 2020-2022 seasons. 

What’s so great about that? For the first time in history, every team and every player in the AUDL will step onto the field wearing eco-friendly uniforms made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Using Savage’s proprietary GreenLine fabric is just another big step in the AUDL’s commitment to being eco-conscious and reducing their carbon footprint. Other recent environmental efforts include the 50K Tree Planting Challenge, where the AUDL partnered with ForestPlanet to plant 20 trees for every fan through the gate during Championship Weekend, totaling 50,000 new trees planted. 

We’re thrilled to be working together toward reducing the environmental impact of Ultimate and bringing our new GreenLine fabric to the players and fans. The fabric is lightweight, sweat-wicking, antimicrobial, comfortable, and sublimation-friendly — plus it’s rated UPF 50+, the highest level of UV protection you can get from clothing. 

Switching over to GreenLine fabric is just part of why we’re so hyped about the uniforms this season. A whopping 14 teams will be debuting new and updated jersey designs this April. Montreal Royal, Austin Sol, NY Empire, Philadelphia Phoenix, Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, DC Breeze, San Jose Spiders, Atlanta Hustle, Minnesota Windchill, Dallas Roughnecks, Tampa Bay Cannons, San Diego Growlers, Indianapolis AlleyCats, and Boston Glory will all be taking the field in brand-new jerseys, with the rest of the teams following suit in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. 

Savage’s design staff spent a great many hours working with these teams on the designs for their new kits, and we can’t wait to see them in action. Fans can purchase authentic replica team jerseys now on sale in our brand-new Savage AUDL Partner Store. Order by March 12 to have your gear on game day.

Be sure to follow Savage on Facebook and Instagram, because we’ll have even more AUDL products rolling out throughout the season in the Savage AUDL Partner Store.

AUDL Boston Glory Official GreenLine Team Jersey On Sale Powered By Savage

 

Boston Glory Joins the AUDL

This year marks the first major expansion of the league since 2016, with the recent addition of Boston Glory, who will be joining the newly reconfigured East Division alongside the Montreal Royal, New York Empire, Ottawa Outlaws, and Toronto Rush. Boston is a city known for its passionate fans, top-tier athletes, and heated rivalries with NY teams, and we’re certain Glory will be no exception. 

The city has long been home to one of the best Ultimate communities in the world, and the Glory roster certainly includes some of Boston’s best, with plenty of handpicked locals who earned their spots through rigorous tryouts in the middle of a blizzard. Glory also scooped up some talented out-of-town players with early announcements last month that they had secured commitments from Tannor Johnson, Tyler Chan, and Henry Babcock.

While the bulk of the team is comprised of players making their first appearance in pro Ultimate, the Glory roster also includes four seasoned AUDL players: Maxwell Rick, Rusty Ingold-Smith, Davis Whitehead, and Brendan McCann, who played an incredibly impressive 2019 season with Minnesota Wind Chill, scoring the second-most points per game and showing off his effective D-line handling.

It’ll be interesting to see how all this amazing talent comes together and how the team matches up with the rest of the division, especially NY Empire. Boston-New York rivalries have long been notorious in the sports world, so we’re sure to see some major heat, intense gameplay, and certainly some smacktalk go down this season. On May 2, Empire and Glory will face off for the first time in history and we’ve already got our popcorn ready. Keep an eye on the Savage Blog for more on Boston Glory and why we’re so stoked to watch them play their first season.

AUDL 2020 Division Realignment: East West Midwest and New Atlantic Division

 

We’ll See A New Division Structure and Welcome the New Atlantic Division

Not only are we welcoming a new team this season, but we’re also welcoming the new Atlantic Division. With Boston joining the league, there’s been some major reshuffling of division alignment and an entire new Atlantic Division has been formed. The South has been dissolved and Austin and Dallas have been shipped out West. The Dallas Roughnecks have made it to Championship Weekend every season since the team first joined the league in 2016, so they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with, and we’re curious to see if they can continue this streak and claim their spot as the best of the West. 

Raleigh, Atlanta, and Tampa have moved over to the new Atlantic, where they will be joined by Pittsburgh from the Midwest, DC and Philadelphia from the East, and Tampa from the South. These new divisions should make for some memorable games this season.

AUDL Ultimate Frisbee Game of the Week Broadcast AUDL.tv Fox Sports 2 FS2 Roku

 

AUDL Signs Fox Sports 2 Deal

The AUDL recently announced that they’ve partnered up with Fox Sports 2 (FS2) for the next two years. This means that Fox will broadcast every AUDL Game of the Week throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons — and that more people will be able to watch AUDL games than ever before. 

In 2018 and 2019, the AUDL’s Game of the Week partner was Stadium, and this new deal certainly is a major step up. FS2 reaches around 57 million homes each month compared to Stadium reaching around 25 million homes. Teaming up with a major sports network with a massive online following is a huge win, and hopefully, this expanded exposure will lead to an increase in people getting excited about and involved with this sport that we love so much. 

The AUDL Game of the Week program will air on Wednesday nights on FS2 throughout the 2020 season. The Game of the Week will also be streamed live on audl.tv and on the brand new AUDL Roku app that’s also slated to launch before the season starts. 

A new team, a new division, a new major broadcasting deal, and new eco-friendly uniforms featuring our exclusive eco-friendly GreenLine fabric are all huge changes for the 2020 AUDL season, and we couldn’t be more stoked for April 4. Stay tuned to the Savage Blog throughout the season for more AUDL coverage including interviews with Beau Kittredge, Khalif El-Salaam, Goose Helton, and more. 

Visit the AUDL Partner Store and get those orders in by March 12 to have your gear in time for game day!




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