Therese Doebler, right, plays defense for Atlanta Soul Pro Ultimate.

The Atlanta Soul Pro Ultimate team is preparing for its home opener on April 22 at 6 p.m. at Maynard Jackson High School.

“It’s incredible to be able to showcase our team and talents on a platform that allows more visibility for players and for Ultimate,” said Atlanta Soul Player, Sam Li.  

A founding team of the professional Premier Ultimate League (PUL), Atlanta Soul strives to increase the visibility of women and non-binary players and increase participation by those underrepresented in the sport.

The 2023 season unveils the team’s new winged broken heart logo that expresses its dual focus on competition and equity.

“2023 feels like the beginning of a rebuild for the team,” said Lily Ponitz, Atlanta Soul co-owner, and player. 

Sam Li handles the disc in an Atlanta Soul Pro Ultimate match.

The first PUL season was in 2019. COVID canceled the 2020 season, nine of the 12 teams played in 2021, and the league returned to full strength in 2022.  Since several players recently retired, Atlanta Soul signed about half of its 2023 roster from outside of metro Atlanta. 

“I think we’ve gotten the top players from the southeast,” Ponitz said. “Women leaders who will show these skills to their communities in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and other parts of Georgia.”

Therese Doebler, who’s played Ultimate since 2007, travels from Tampa to play on the team.

“I’m excited to be that first wave of women’s pro sports for Ultimate… kickstarting an outlet to play for future generations,” Doebler said.  

The roster includes talent from ages 18 to 43. 

It’s a very wide range of skill levels and experience levels,” said Atlanta Soul Head Coach Jac Clark. “It’s interesting bringing everyone to the same good consistent level for the program. I’m looking forward to jumping into the season.” 

Atlanta Soul also works with youth to grow the sport and empower rising talent.

“On May 14, we are doing a hat tournament open from youth to adult ages in partnership with Decatur High School’s girls’ ultimate team,“ Ponitz said. “After the tournament, we’ll hold a Q&A panel of pro and club players answering questions from girls, women, and nonbinary player participants.” 

While encouraged by the number of sponsors, like Atlanta-based SPIN, who have signed on in 2023, Ponitz says funding and sponsorships remain the biggest challenge. 

“It’s hard to build a professional sport when you don’t have enough money to pay your staff to do really good work,” Ponitz continued. “Running a lot on volunteer time is hard for the longevity of the sport.”

Other home games are scheduled for May 13 and June 3 at 6 pm at Maynard Jackson High School.

“I would like people to come to see it for themselves,” Clark said.  “Because it’s a cool product on the field and a fun fan experience.”  

Visit Red’s Beer Garden on game day, mention Atlanta Soul and your bill will also support the team. 

Purchase tickets, fan gear, or sign up to be a sponsor at

New to Ultimate?

The object of the game is to score by catching a disc in the opponent’s end zone. A player must stop running while in possession of the disc, but may pivot and pass to the other receivers.  During the game, players move quickly from offense to defense on turnovers that occur with a dropped pass, interception, out-of-bounds pass, or when a player holds the disc for more than ten seconds. It’s governed by the Spirit of the Game which places the responsibility for fair play on the players rather than the referees. 

Clare S. Richie

Clare S. Richie is a freelance writer and public policy specialist based in Atlanta.