Humans of Ultimate is a new initiative at MODS to highlight key spirit leaders in our community who value spirit of the game, integrity, sportsmanship and fun above winning and rivalry. Without these amazing pieces of our community and their leadership our sport and organization wouldn't be where we are today!
Written by Sean Seywright - Contributions from Jonathan Klippenstein Epp - Edited by Corey Draper
It was just over 5 years ago that the owners of Independent Jewellers Limited (IJL) sat down with the MODS staff and talked about the history of their families company going back to 1937 here in Winnipeg. Brothers Jonathan Klippenstein Epp and Jeremy Epp shared some of their family stories and the importance of community within their business, a shared vision of spirit and partnership which eventually lead to the 5 year agreement and sponsorship between IJL and MODS.
Over the past 5 years both of the brothers and IJL have contributed $50,000 in sponsorship for the Ultimate community with their financial support being directed to two primary streams. The first stream impacted by the partnership was the growth and development of the Ultimate park at Maple Grove. This facility is currently named after MODS primary sponsor and known within the city and community as “IJL Ultimate Park or IJLUP”. Funds go directly towards supporting the maintenance of this venue and helping to keep it as MODS main gathering point for friends, teams and spirited competition.
Our junior athletes have been part of the focus of the IJL support and seen tremendous benefit from the partnership between both groups. Starting the second year of the agreement, money provided by IJL began to fund a new initiative in the junior community by highlighting the middle school and high school provincial championship finals. It is the financial support from IJL which allows MODS to bring in a broadcast company for the event and webcast and produce both finals. This has helped to further highlight our junior programs and provides a useful tool to help grow our sport while introducing spirit of the game to new athletes and schools.
It was only fitting that with IJL agreeing to another 5 years of MODS sponsorship this year, that we highlight the positive impact they are having on our organization and community. We would be thankful for the partnership and financial support of our non-profit organization in any year, but to have a commitment come back from IJL during a pandemic, securing financial support during a stressful and difficult time, speaks highly to their true value of giving, community and spirit. This means that over a decade of support by IJL will result in more than $105,000 in direct funding and sponsorship.
If you ever have the chance, we hope you say hello to Jonathan at the fields this summer or visit Jeremy at the Notre Dame location and share with them any of the positive experiences you have had at the park named after their business or your family may have had at the MODS junior provincial championships.
We caught up to Jonathan Klippenstein Epp (JKE) over the holidays to learn a little more about his experiences and thoughts on Ultimate and where the sport is heading post pandemic 2021 and beyond. We hope you enjoy learning about one of our league captains, managers and partners as we cornered him for 5 quick questions!
MODS: We’ve seen you at the fields at IJLUP for years, AGM’s and at MODS events, when did you start playing Ultimate within the framework of MODS?
JKE: At least 10 years ago now, but I'm not sure. Probably longer!
MODS: With a decade of experience, what teams and seasons have you been part of?
JKE: I’ve been part of Summer (outdoor) and winter (indoor – turf). I’ve played in the October season where they mix up players, and I've also played on 3 teams (I can think of and remember), and subbed on a few others.
MODS: That’s a pretty diverse experience within Ultimate and all our programs. What do you love most about Ultimate?
JKE: The simplicity of the game. All you need is a disc and you can play (anywhere or anytime). Any one can learn the game of Ultimate, and I also appreciate that the game is, at least in Manitoba, primarily mixed.
MODS: Your family, your brother and you all have a keen eye for business, what do you see as a current opportunity for growth in the sport?
JKE: I think just growing the membership and getting more people playing, there is no reason to think that Ultimate couldn't be as popular as soccer someday. But it will take someone very creative and dedicated to getting the sport to that level.
MODS: What drives you to sponsor the organization and give so much back each year?
JKE: MODS is a great organization that brings together the perfect demographic for our business (by matching community and values). All the players are exactly who we would like to do business with, so being involved just made sense to us.
Also, it's nice that our dollars can make a positive impact and help an organization like MODS. Having done many sports sponsorships in the past, where our money just goes into the grind of whatever team we are sponsoring, it is nice to see firsthand how our money is helping. We’re also thankful for the reciprocity, in that league players come shop and talk with us.