George “Ty” Simpson is a native Washingtonian politico-turned-entrepreneur. He flies under the radar because he prefers it.
“It’s not time for me to be in the spotlight,” said Simpson, who rarely acknowledges his personal contribution to the incredible success of his 20-year-old company, Spectrum Management, which provides facility management, operations and maintenance, and real estate development services.
“I give all the credit to my employees. They are the backbone to our successes,” said the “ultimate,” entrepreneur.
The lowkey businessman is also owner of the DC Breeze, the nation’s most diverse Ultimate Disc team, which is part of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), a professional ultimate frisbee league based in North America.
The league was founded in 2012 and currently has 22 teams across the United States and two in Canada. The AUDL has implemented policies and programs to increase representation and accessibility for underrepresented communities, and the DC Breeze has followed suit.
The team’s original owner, Aaron Foreman, is an African American native Washingtonian that purchased the team from Craig’sList. His vision to have a D.C.-based Ultimate team, in a predominantly white sport, made him the trendsetter. With the addition of two partners, Don Grage and Kellen Furness, they managed and developed the team for 10 years. Foreman asked Simpson to join the team in 2017.
Simpson had two main goals: 1) win a championship and 2) develop District youth teams in Wards, 5, 6, 7 and 8. With the help of Rowan McDonald, 2018 AUDL MVP, they set out to create teams and host camps in Barry Farms, Fort Stanton and Turkey Thicket.
In 2020, the Breeze became the first AUDL team to hire a full-time African American head coach, Darryl Stanley, and the team regularly participates in club ultimate events to promote inclusion. While the AUDL, as a whole, has made strides toward diversity and inclusion, the DC Breeze stands out as a leader in promoting these values within the league.
“When the team started, players were carpooling and eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches,” he exclaimed. Now, DC Breeze has luxury bus transportation contracts, they fly to Boston, Toronto and Montreal and meals are ordered, compliments of the organization. The team has their eyes on a championship.
“We want to win a championship and treat our players as professional athletes,” Simpson proclaimed, as the team has lost three divisional finals in a five-year span – one COVID year. “As a former athlete, the only thing I want to do is win vicariously through my team by putting them in the best position to execute,” Simpson continued.
The Breeze plays at Carlini Field at The Catholic University of America. With the new addition of two top 20 AUDL players, a top international player from the Netherlands, and Simpson’s ethos, the sport can potentially attract a larger audience while transcending racial stereotypes.
“You don’t typically think of ultimate as a ‘Black’ sport, but it has the lowest barrier to entry. Girls and boys share the same athletic opportunity. All you need is a disc and space,” Simpson stated.
With ultimate only requiring the disc and a field, the sport can quickly gain popularity without barriers to entry, such as league fees and accessibility issues that sports such as soccer and basketball face.
Moreover, Simpson approaches ultimate frisbee, applying the same attitude he has in business.
“People don’t think about the trades as being attractive, but if I can get to a young person and teach them HVAC mechanics, you can make $100,000 a year without taking any college,” Simpson exclaimed.
When 2018 MVP McDonald held a middle school youth tournament in 2020, Simpson said he was impressed by the young athletes’ skills. The owner is excited to continue such collaborations with local youth, applying the same model he has used in business to offer opportunities to young athletes.
“When we brought some kids out from the D.C. Department of Recreation, the athleticism was out of control,” he said.