Q&A With The All Star Ultimate Tour: Part 1

Photo: Jolie J Lang -- UltiPhotos.com
Photo: Jolie J Lang — UltiPhotos.com

This summer’s All Star Ultimate Tour has spotlighted some of the best young talent in the game today. While we’ve seen plenty from these ladies on the field over the course of the Tour, Ultiworld wanted to get to know to more about what they’re like off of it.

Today we hear from Jaclyn Verzuh, Alika Johnston, Stevie Miller, Erynn Schroeder, Steph Lim, and Rebecca Brereton, who share their thoughts on perfect offense, classical music, hammers, and a spike inspired by a lost bet.

 

Q: When was the first moment you realized ultimate was the sport for you?

JV: When I went to Spring Reign, which is the largest co-ed youth ultimate tournament in the world. I was in elementary school and it was the first time that I was introduced to the ultimate community. The experience was tons of fun, and led me to falling in love with the team Seattle Fryz.

AJ: When I realized that you can be perfect on offense. It is entirely up to you whether you score. Your opponent can’t necessarily force a turnover—you have to give it to them. You can be perfect.

SM: My rookie year when I went to Nationals with Ohio State Fever. During that year, I had quit a few times, but I went to Nationals and didn’t play very much. The whole atmosphere was so awesome. Everyone was having so much fun, but it was still super competitive.

ES: The first practice. I always loved throwing discs. I first practiced ultimate my freshman year of high school and from the first day I was hooked.

SL: I don’t know if there was one exact moment. I realized that I wanted to play and get better, and be a better player so I could help my team out. If I had to pick one, I’d pick the moment that I referenced in my blog article in the Santa Barbara game-to-go at Regionals.

RB: That’s a hard question. It happened gradually for me. I kind of got forced to play by my older sister. For the first two years, I was the youngest person on the team—by about five years, maybe more. I was really bad. I didn’t really enjoy it very much, but after about three years it started to click. I started understanding where to be; I started to get comfortable with the disc. It took that minor amount of success before I started to like playing. After that, the rest came.

Q: Which player you watched growing up inspired you the most and why?

JV: I like to watch highlight reels, and when I was younger, I watched a lot of the Ultivillage videos. My favorite one was Riot’s 2007 Nationals highlight reel. It’s a classic. There aren’t a lot of women’s highlight reels, and there were even fewer that many years ago. Also, I had the good fortune of having a lot of Riot coaches when I was growing up, but there weren’t many opportunities to see them play even though they were on Riot. That was my opportunity to watch them.

AJ: Jenny Fey and Katie Klein were my first coaches. They played on Scandal and they were my role models. I aspired to become players like they were at that time.

SM: I didn’t know about ultimate until college. Then, I always had just watched Paige Soper and Cassie Swafford play, I just always wanted to be like them, so I just watched how they moved on the field.

ES: I remember watching Chelsea Putnam and her epic layout during Worlds right before my Worlds tryout in 2010. I was able to meet her and learning defense from her was amazing.

SL: I didn’t watch any ultimate growing up! I didn’t know about it until I went to college. I looked up to my teammates and captains and everyone who worked and put their heart into the game—everyone that worked hard on and off the field to be the best that they could be.

RB: Opi. I didn’t watch much ultimate until about two years ago. I watched her play during Worlds and saw how hard she was running and the fire inspired me. I had never committed physically, but she taught me that I’d never get better unless I started to work on my athleticism. After that, I started to cross train and exercise. I started to play with more intention.

Q: Who on the Tour has the worst taste in music?

JV: Shofner.

AJ: I don’t know. Most people listen to Pop. It’s popular for a reason, so it gets in your ear. Speaking of which, have you seen that SNL skit called “Swiftamine”? You should watch it.

SM: I honestly can’t remember. I think we’ve only listened to three songs this entire trip.

ES: Lucas Murphy.

SL: Well, Carolyn just sent me a snapchat saying that Lucas was playing Classical music in the car, so maybe Lucas. If anyone secretly likes listening to heavy metal, then they have the worst taste.

RB: I don’t know. I’ve only heard the music of three people. Q [Qxhna Titcomb] and Alika introduced me to country, but it turned out that I liked it. Only other person I’ve heard is Lisa’s—I’d like to say that the van is not a club, and club music should not be played 24/7.

Q: What has been your on-field highlight from the Tour so far?

JV: When Saddles [Lauren Sadler] got the ESPN-featured catch in the Seattle Riot game. That was incredible.

AJ: Hayley’s hammer in the Atlanta Ozone game was so big.

SM: Hannah’s D in general is really fun to watch. I also really liked seeing Cuz’s layout D towards the end of the Philly Green Means Go game.  Seeing everyone play kickass defense has been really inspiring.

ES: The hammer for I threw for the game winning goal during the Scandal game.

SL: Alika lost an odds bet to me and she had to do a spin spike during the Molly Brown game. She executed perfectly.

RB: Probably the Scandal game. A huck went up and I realized that Radar [Margot Stert] was going to get the grab easily. Instead of sitting back and watching the disc go up, I put my head down and sprinted as fast as I could to the end zone to get into a continuation position. There was a moment of indecision in her eyes, but I answered that for her with my screaming for the disc. We scored.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a girl just picking up a disc for the first time, what would it be?

JV: Play as much as possible.

AJ: This question makes me think about when my high school team would play league together. We would play mixed, but for the regular season we would split into girls and boys. I was getting thrown to, but none of my female friends were. So, I would tell a girl to demand respect. Demand it. Hold your teammates to a higher standard—the way you carry yourself, the way you play. Respect everyone in return. If you hold yourself and others to that higher standard, you’ll get the respect that you deserve, and others will deliver.

SM: The first few months can be some of the most frustrating times. You can’t throw a forehand more than five yards. But a few months later, you’re going to nail it. Work until your idols become your rivals.

ES: Know that there is a steep learning curve. Try to play a tournament as soon as possible, especially at the college level. For young girls, just keep throwing.

SL: People tend to be who they want to be, so figure out what works for you, own it, and love it.

RB: Keep picking the disc up. It’s a cool sport, and it only gets better.

The All Star Ultimate Tour hits New York City tonight where they take on Bent. Check out the live stream here starting at 8:00 PM EDT.

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    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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