Spirit of the Game: Work/Life Balance of a Professional Ultimate Player

How many professional athletes do you know who also work a full time job? iLS network is proud to have Zach Floyd, Director of Development and professional Ultimate Frisbee player, on our team.

For those unfamiliar with Ultimate Frisbee (or "Ultimate" for short), juggling both a professional athletic career with his work with the company is no easy task. As a professional sport, Ultimate has only been around for 4 years. Ultimate as an organized sport, however, has its roots in the 1960s counterculture movement. Today, there are over 5 million Ultimate players in the United States, and many more playing internationally in clubs and on the pickup level.

Ultimate is a team sport, with 7 players per team. It's like a cross between soccer, football, and other field sports, and in the pro-game, is typically played on a football field.

Don't think just because it's Frisbee that keeping in shape and practicing for games is easy. Training for Ultimate is no joke. Zach stays on top of his game by doing 2 to 3 team sprint workouts a week, with each workout lasting about 2 hours in addition to personal strength workouts.

On weekends, he usually travels up to Jacksonville on Saturday morning for games. While he hasn't had to travel across the country for any games since college, Zach and his team do travel throughout the East Coast for away games. Nashville, Raleigh,  Charlotte, and Atlanta are the four major competitor teams that the Jacksonville Cannons play against during the season.

On away game weekends, which often end up being double-headers, the Cannons will pile into two 15-passenger vans and travel to the city of their first competitor team and play. On Sunday, the team awakes early in the morning to travel to the next city to wrap up the double-header. 

So how does Zach balance being a professional athlete with working at iLS network? It's all about getting into a routine. Zach works until about 5:30pm during the week, and on days that he has workouts starts at 6 or 7pm 

While working out during the week 2-3 times may not sound like the fullest schedule, Zach says that on non-workout days he runs through game footage in the evenings for a few hours.

As it turns out, Ultimate is something of a family affair. Zach's girlfriend Michelle is the captain of Florida's women's Ultimate club team, Tabby Rosa. Ultimate clubs are pretty different from the pro-scene, Zach tells me. Ultimate players start up clubs for their city or state, as opposed to being organized by a team owner. Ultimate clubs play tournaments, which are held in various cities. Tabby Rosa will, for example, fly up to Columbus, Ohio for the weekend and play 3-4 games on Saturday and then another 3 or so games on Sunday before traveling back down to Florida. Other than that, the rules are pretty much the same for professional Ultimate and Ultimate clubs.

iLS network has been sponsoring Tabby Rosa this season, and according to Zach, it makes all the difference. Another major distinction between professional Ultimate and Ultimate clubs is that professional Ultimate teams are paid for entirely by the team's owner. That includes travel expenses (gas, airfare, etc.), equipment, gear, and fees. Ultimate club members have to pay for everything out of pocket, making it one of the most expensive sports. Tournaments have bid fees, clubs have to pay to rent fields for games, and it all adds up. The company's sponsorship helps pay for things like jerseys, which cost about $100 each per person. Zach says Ultimate is "a pretty expensive sport to not have any sponsors for, so every sponsor they [Tabby Rosa] get helps quite a bit."

These players are truly passionate about their sport, and their dedication goes beyond their efforts on the field. Youth outreach is important to Ultimate players like Zach and Michelle. While they were living in Gainesville, Zach says they'd volunteer their time and work with younger players on the University of Florida's team by doing drills and field practice.

Jacksonville Cannons pose for a picture after 1st home win
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