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Furious Commits Year-Round to Professional Ultimate

New “Monkeys” Franchise Will Compete in League & Tournament Play

Having received official blessings from Ultimate Canada, USA Ultimate, and the AUDL, Vancouver ultimate will transition to a consolidated competition model beginning in 2016 in which one professional club competes in all arenas under a single identity. Before the end of the year, Vancouver’s storied Furious George Ultimate Club will cease to exist in an official capacity. Completing the merger with the AUDL “Riptide” franchise, the new consolidated club will be marketed publicly under the new banner of the “Water Monkeys” at home and abroad.

“For us, this decision was about looking after player interests,” says Furious veteran Alex Davis, who explains that athlete development is the leadership’s number-one priority. He reports that the expansion of club ultimate playing structures, requirements, and travel obligations have become physically and financially draining for Furious over the last few years.  “Ultimate has grown a lot in the last decade, and the old model of running a club team was becoming administratively and logistically intractable. We started looking at options that would allow us players to focus on what we do best — teaching, training, and playing.”

An all-professional model supplied the answer.

“Playing professionally for the AUDL, you know that having a team of coaches, and managers to take care of sponsors, money, flights, hotels — it’s a life-saver,” says Myles Sinclair. “Like, leagues wouldn’t work at all without people to support the players, to tell them where to be, where to go, and how to get there.”

“The more seriously we play, the more seriously we need peripheral support,” adds Davis. “So when someone we trusted like Gisel took over as Riptide GM, we really started thinking it would be great if we could have his kind of pro-level help all year round. It was a bold ask, but I think we all realized that it was absolutely the way to go.”

Brian Gisel, newly appointed GM for the Vancouver AUDL franchise, is a longstanding fixture of the Vancouver ultimate community, with a reputation for organizational skill that the Monkeys desperately needed. On behalf of the players, he pitched the the rationale that fully supporting a team for both league and tournament play would profit the franchise more than it would cost in the long-term.

“The idea here is to consolidate brand and market equity,” says Gisel. By supporting the players outside of the AUDL as well, they don’t just continue to develop but they “make more appearances, get seen, build a bigger following,” and that’s a selling point for both sponsors and in-season ticket-holders. Soon, fans will be able to follow the Water Monkeys up and down the Western Conference, but also in the Triple Crown Tour, in Canadian national championships (possibly even becoming the next Team Canada!), and in world club championships.

And Gisel supplies the marketing know-how to make the combined franchise a success: “we, the officers of the franchise, will handle the money and the public image. Actually, the first thing I did when I agreed to this was take away their Twitter privileges,” he jokes.*

Kevin Underhill responded enthusiastically to the news that Furious players would receive more managerial help, “With someone like the Gis-man at the helm, we can really focus on our side of the bidness [sic], which should be crushing out sick goals!”

 

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Water Monkeys Est. MMXVI

The price to pay will be the sacrifice of the traditional name and emblem of Vancouver men’s ultimate. The change of the historic identity was a necessary step.

“I can’t sit down in a suit and tie and try to sell a ‘Furious George’ to an investor,” explains Gisel.

Marketing manager Kathryn Pohran says, “Furious George, although it has a lot of history, is very confusing to sponsors and audiences out of context and outside of ultimate circles. When you Google ‘Furious George,’ you get GIFs of knife-fighting monkeys….”

The Water Monkey, in addition to honouring the combined parties of the merger, is a fixture borrowed from the Chinese zodiac.  The Chinese New Year, observed and celebrated annually in Vancouver, marks 2016 as the Year of the Monkey, making the mischievous simian a fitting emblem for the new team.  And the Water Monkey also carries favourable auspices for the team among astrologers: “They can be crafty, cunning and dishonest and will grasp any opportunity to make a quick profit or to outsmart their opponents.” Famous Water Monkeys include Danny DeVito, Christina Aguilera and fellow Canadian Celine Dion.

Pohran and friends look forward to distributing themed door prizes to fans and season ticket-holders, including traditional fried foods and ticket-holder discounts on many popular brand-name goods. “And every attendee at every game gets a free wet fortune cookie!” Says Pohran.

“But I ate all of mine already.”

AUDL Riptide coaches Matt Doyle and Tasia Balding reacted positively when asked about their promotions and expanded duties overseeing the expanded “Water Monkeys” programme year-round. “This just keeps getting better and better,” says Balding.

The Water Monkeys home-stadium themesong, “We Will Wet You” will be freely available for download on iTunes as of April 1, 2016.

 

*As of press time, it turns out he wasn’t joking.
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Alex Davis

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