Ultiworld Youth Reporter Eric Williams sat down with one of the country's brightest young stars, Sol Yanuck, and asked about his high school season and Team USA experience.
September 3, 2014 by Eric Williams in Interview with 38 comments
High School Attended: Carolina Friends School (Durham, North Carolina)
Years Spent Playing: 6
College Attending & Major: Carleton, something with Bio and/or chemistry
Other Sports Played Prior/Still Playing: Soccer
Favorite Pregame Tournament Music: Jack Johnson
Favorite Online Ultimate Video: Hard to choose, but Jimmy Mickle For Callahan 2013
Eric Williams: First off Sol, congratulations on such a successful summer and 2014 overall. You were a part of winning High School tournaments such as the North Carolina State and Southern Championships, taking 2nd place with Team USA at WJUC in Lecco, Italy and more recently winning the U19 Youth Club Championship with North Carolina’s Triforce.
Tell us, how did you first become an ultimate player and then reach an elite level?
Sol Yanuck: My Dad played at Cornell in the 80’s, so I started to throw with him when I was about 10 or 11. I played organized ultimate for the first time in 7th grade. I played for the CFS high school team my 7th and 8th grade years, and then every year of high school.
I have also had great teammates. The guys I played with at CFS are my best friends and they have provided me with some invaluable feedback over the years. I’ve also been the beneficiary of a lot of great coaching. The coaches for CFS, Triforce, and team USA have taught me a lot, and I’ve also learned a ton from playing a few pickup tournaments with local club players.
Lastly, I watch a ton of game film on YouTube; (if online) there’s a 95% chance I’ve watched it. I would like to think that I gained some insight from the hundreds of hours of ultimate I’ve watched in the last three years.
EW: Do you have any college, club or professional players that you look up to and model your game after?
SY: The guy I look up to most is definitely Jon Nethercutt. He coached Triforce in 2013 and 2014, and I have learned a lot from him; both years directly and by watching him play for UNC Darkside.
Other players that I try to model my game after are Jack McShane – I learned what throw-n-go means from watching the Colorado/Pittsburgh quarters game in Nationals 2011 – Liam Searles-Bohs, Jonah Herscu, he coached me at Nation Ultimate Training Camp in 2012, and Ashlin Joye.
EW: The process of getting a spot on any Team USA roster is something not many players get to witness or be a part of; care to share how it was like to be a part of Team USA?
SY: I got to spend two weeks with 23 talented, hardworking, hilarious – Mac Hecht am I right? – guys who all share the same passion, and that makes for an unbelievable two weeks. By the end of training camp, the words “Team USA” had kind of lost meaning.
During the games I was not really thinking about the scale of it, just the fact that this was international competition. I got a little jolt of perspective when we showed up for the finals in the stadium and it wasn’t just us cheering on our girls from the sideline. Everyone was there, not to watch the finals of a tournament, but to watch USA play Canada. It was a pretty remarkable experience and anyone who’s been a part of it will tell you that it goes by far too quickly.
EW: You attended a rather small private school in Durham, North Carolina where you were placed into a captain’s position because of your obvious talent but more on your drive to lead Carolina Friends to heights the program never saw. How different do you think your experience at Carleton College will be with such an influx of other incoming talent, the talent already on the roster and the history that CUT already has?
SY: I had high aspirations for the CFS team from my freshman year onward; until then I’d just been running around hoping Tristan Green (CFS and UNC alum) would throw me the disc. By the time spring 2013 rolled around, we had grown into a real, established, competitive ultimate team. We won the NC State Tournament for the first time and at Southerns 2013 we participated in quite an unusual game with Paideia, where I managed to turn the disc over maybe 15 times and yet somehow we almost won. This past season was a special experience. I got to play an absurd amount of ultimate with my best friends, and we managed to have a little fun on the way to winning Southerns 2014.
Now, how does that experience compare with what I think my experience at Carleton will be? I think the main difference will be that I won’t have nearly as much responsibility. That will provide me the opportunity to spend some time working, reflecting on my own game and learning from guys who can teach me a lot. I am just looking forward to playing with guys who are better than me and know more than I do about ultimate.
EW: This is a loaded question so feel free to pass; do you think you’ll be given more of a chance on the CUT roster because of your success?
SY: I am not sure that having my name on Ultiworld will make Phil Bowen, Carleton Head Coach, put me on the team, but my success has been associated with a lot of work to improve my own game and to improve my teammates. I have certainly done as much as I can to be able to make a good impression come tryouts.
EW: Back to your alma mater -has that sunk in yet calling CFS your former school- how do you think the future of the CFS program will go? Is it in capable hands?
SY: I think they are going to be pretty nasty for the next three years. I do not know much about the incoming freshmen, but our rising junior and sophomore classes are stacked. We’ve got about eight YCC players returning to the team this year, including two Triforce players: Liam S-B and Dillon Lanier, “#someoneguardDillon2015”.
I think it’ll be hard for them initially to adjust to the absence of guys like Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, Abe Eichner and Henry Fisher, all of whom did a ton for the team this year. Once they adjust this is going to be a scary team; CFS 2016 may turn out to be the best high school team in the decade. But that’s just me.
EW: Of all the tournaments you participated in and the teams you were a part of the past several months, which tournament was your most memorable, which team was your most favorite to be on and which tournament meant more to you personally?
SY: Wow that is an impossible question. Playing for CFS was amazing because I got to play ultimate with my best friends for the whole school year, and finish it off with a title. Team USA was amazing because I got to play unbelievably high quality ultimate with great guys and got to play with some of the guys I had to play against for so much of the high school season. Triforce 2014 was special because it was a bunch of the same guys that won the U16 division in 2011, so that made it extra special when we were able to take home gold this year. So yeah, I would say all of them.
EW: Final question and it is tied with the last one. Who was your toughest opponent (team and individual) this past year?
SY: I got to say Holy Family Catholic. They are tall, fast, got all the throws, and they play some really tough junky defenses. Dom is impossible to guard and I hear that (Jordan) Monnin kid is only 16 years old. He skied the crap out of me at YCC. That being said, they are truly some of the nicest guys I have ever played with or against. Also Dom Schuster, Holy Family Catholic alum and Team USA team mate, is killer at foosball.
EW: Well Sol, congratulations on all the accolades so far in your ultimate career and hope your future is even brighter.