Skip to main content

Cross Creek Gets the Ultimate Experience

Cross Creek Charter Academy had the opportunity to host a coaches training session that featured a special guest for the flying disc game known as “ultimate.”

Coaches and players from throughout Grand Rapids listened to coaching theories and ways to get players mentally and visually prepared beyond the Xs and Os from coach Valerio Iani, who has spent 25 years coaching kids and adults in the U.S., Italy, and Spain.

Iani being introduced to students and staff.
Valerio Iani, coach of Belgium’s ultimate national team, is introduced by Mike Zaagman, founder and director of Zig Zag Ultimate and head coach at Davenport University.

“It was a really cool experience to hear somebody who nearly won the world championship as a coach, to come teach our coaches how to coach better,” said Brad Agee, Cross Creek’s achievement and behavior support specialist and athletic director. “I think we picked up a Frisbee for an hour total of the whole time."

Iani writing on whiteboard.
Valerio Iani linked coaching to teaching, stressing to prioritize making connections and building relationships over skills and victories.

Iani is the coach of Belgium’s U24 National Ultimate Team that took the silver medal at the World Championships this year. He also started OAK Ultimate (U17 and U20 teams) that made it to the finals at Youth Nationals last summer in Colorado, in which Agee’s high school team from Grand Rapids also participated.

Iani stressed the importance of connecting participation, progression, and performance for players at every ability level to maximize their growth individually and as a team. Coaches and players who took in Iani’s knowledge included those from: Agee, who has played ultimate for 25 years, said about 300 kids from National Heritage Academies (NHA) schools play in a club league on Friday nights. As students at Cross Creek either discover or continue to develop their skills in the sport, he hopes it will open them up a community that has given him friends and teammates across the country.

Iani with Cross Creek AD/Coach and players.
From left, Cross Creek Athletic Director/Coach Brad Agee, Valerio Iani, and Zig Zag Ultimate Director Mike Zaagman pose for a picture with Cross Creek players Cooper and Dax.
“This was a great opportunity for Cross Creek to improve our experience and skills in ultimate,” Agee said. “My hope is that this will trickle down to many students in our building to develop their skills in ultimate that will carry on to other aspects of their sporting careers.”
Check out a school near you!

About Cross Creek Charter Academy
Cross Creek Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Byron Center, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Cross Creek Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.