Mario O’Brien is the Producer and Creative Director of RISE UP, Ultimate’s only professional instructional video series. He currently plays pro/elite ultimate for Seattle Sockeye and the Seattle Cascades.
How did you come to play ultimate?
I first saw it at summer camp and at that point thought of it as a ‘game’ not a ‘sport’. I went to my first ultimate practice at the end of my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.
And how did you stick to the sport?
I was 4-sport high school athlete and I missed being a part of a team and being active. My first 2 years of college I was a bit lost. I loved that Ultimate was fun, and the people were great, and I was pretty good at it. I liked being athletically competitive and working hard towards team and personal goals, and I liked road trips with friends. In hindsight, ultimate met a lot of my needs as a person, and still does.
What’s your best memory about ultimate?
One of my favorite memories was my first Labor Day tournament in Santa Cruz (RIP) in 2008. My friend and captain Matt Melius and I sat up on the hill overlooking finals and the amazing view of the beach. We talked about how much we cared about the team and wanted to be better, we argued, we cried, and we came together. This conversation was a catalyst to me becoming a captain the next year, which led to my eventual ultimate addiction, which brings me to now.
What’s your vision about the future of ultimate?
I want ultimate to lead with a) gender equity and b) spirit of the game out front. I do believe ultimate is unique in the sports landscape because of this context. I’m not sold on ‘fast growth for the sake of growth’ or ‘making it to the olympics’.
I also think we have no idea where/how ultimate will change or look 5 years from now. 5 years ago there was no ultimate media, no pro leagues, no streamed games.
I think leadership development for all is the key to a strong community, and that’s why RISE UP’s mission is rooted there.
What’s you thoughts about ultimate frisbee cleats?
I’m optimistic, in that I want Tokay to succeed! But I’m also curious to see if it can create the quality I expect as an elite athlete in the sport. I was a little kid who wanted to be Michael Jordan when I grew up, and have worn Nike athletic shoes for my entire athletic career. Nike Vapor Carbons are my cleat of choice, have been saving a couple pairs for big games for the past few years. Whatever DBs in US football are wearing has been my first choice because a) the athletic movements are most similar and b) I’m an ex-basketball player and the mid-high cut feels better than low-cut soccer cleats.
Mario’s (shortest) timeline
Ultimate Playing History
USAU Club Medals
- 2nd Place :: Sockeye 2015
- 2nd Place :: Sockeye 2013
- 2nd Place – 2016 AUDL Championships – Seattle Cascades
- 2nd Place – 2015 AUDL Western Division – Seattle Cascades
- 2nd Place – 2014 MLU Western Division – Seattle Rainmakers
- 2nd Place – 2013 MLU Western Division – Seattle Rainmakers
- 3rd Place 2016 TEP Colombia – Team Colombia Open
- 3rd Place 2016 TEP Colombia – Sockeye
- 1st Place 2015 WFDF Beach Championships – Team USA Open
- 2nd Place – 2014 WUCC Lecco – Sockeye
- 3rd Place – 2014 TEP Colombia – Sockeye (*Spirit Award Winner)
- 1st Place – 2013 Windmill Windup – Chinaya Rada
- 1st Place – 2012 Paganello -Scandal
- 1st Place – 2011 Pan-American Ultimate Championships – Sockeye
- Team USA Beach Open :: 2017, 2015
- Seattle Sockeye :: 2013 – 2016
- Team Colombia :: 2016
- Seattle Cascades :: 2015-2016
- Seattle Rainmakers :: 2013 :: 2014
- Portland Rhino :: 2008-2012
- Portland Shotgun Rainbow :: 2007
- UWEC Eau Zone :: 2003-2005
Ultimate Coaching and Leadership History
- Player Development Consultant – Seattle Sockeye :: 2015-2016
- Team Development Consultant – Team Colombia (WUGC) :: 2016
- Team Manager – Team USA Beach :: 2015
- Varsity Coach – University Prep HS :: 2015-2016
- Head Coach – Seattle Rainmakers :: 2014
- JV Coach – University Prep US :: 2014
- Head Coach – Lewis and Clark Bacchus :: 2012-2013
- Captain – Portland Rhino :: 2009-2012
Clinics, Camps, and Workshops
- Program Director RISE UP Seattle Coaches Conference :: 2016
- Head Coach :: AUDL Fan Game 2016
- Coach – VC Ultimate Leadership Training Camp :: 2016
- Program Director – RISE UP World Tour :: 2015
- Singapore, Dubai, Colombia, South Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong
- Head Coach – Edge Ultimate Camp :: 2015
- Program Director – RISE UP World Tour :: 2014
- South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Minnesota, South Korea, Colombia
- Coach/Presenter – Ultimate Results Coaching Academy :: 2014-2016
- Coach/Presenter – Ultimate Canada Conference :: 2013 – 2014
- Program Director – RISE UP Amsterdam Camp and Coaches Workshop :: 2013
- Program Director – RISE UP Amsterdam Conference :: 2013
- Program Director – RISE UP Nexgen Workshop Tour :: 2013
- Coach/Presenter – Ultimate Coaches and Players Convention :: 2013
- Coach – Next Level Ultimate Camp :: 2011-2013
- Coach – Spin Ultimate Academy :: 2012
- Coach – Sockeye International (Italy, Germany, Hungary, Russia) :: 2012
- Coach – Ultimate Peace Colombia :: 2011
Analyst and Commentator
- NexGen Tour :: 2013
- College Easterns :: 2013
- WUGC :: 2012
- College Easterns :: 2012
- USAU Club Nationals :: 2011
- Stanford Invite
- Junior Worlds 2012
- USAU Club Nationals 2011