The Players Speak: Perspectives on Team USA Tryouts

Insights from the competitors vying for a spot on the USA National Team.

Team USA West Coast Tryouts 2024. Photo: Jenna Weiner

An idea that has kicked around ultimate for years now is that the best ultimate being played anywhere in the world is at the Team USA tryouts for a Worlds event. Definitively true or not, the notion at least holds water. Having watched four days of tryouts on both the East and West Coast,1 our on-site reporters are in agreement. We’ve watched hours of some of the most grueling reps most of these players will ever get – and we published our opinions on who impressed enough to make the cut last week.

The sheer experience of it all, though, from the expectations and preparation to unexpected chemistry to the successes and difficulties and the process of self-evaluation, is another major – and sometimes, to our discredit as a publication, underreported – aspect of one of the most important events in the sport. At best, reporters can only approximate that experience. So we took it upon ourselves to interview more than a dozen of the players who actually laced up to compete for a spot. Here are the (many) thoughts they shared at various points during the tryout process – about their performance, their teammates, the coaches. We even got the skinny on a player straddling the line between two different countries’ national teams. Read on for an exclusive window into Worlds tryouts.

First Impressions

Everyone we spoke to had something to say about the overall level of talent and having to adjust their game to meet the moment. And everyone was blown away by the pace of play. Even some of the more senior players in the tryout pool were in awe of the talent on display.

Sadie Jezierski, Seattle Mixtape: Everyone here is so good. You look across here, like, ‘I don’t want to guard anyone.’

Genny De Jesus, New York XIST: You don’t get any reps off here. Every rep could debatably be the hardest rep you have. It’s just a completely different level of play than what I’ve experienced before.

Hayden Austin-Knab, Atlanta Chain Lightning: I have to do everything way more towards 100%, my max mental effort and physical effort… here, you can’t have any lapses in concentration… In terms of play, a lot of what we’re doing is very similar. It’s the same kind of play and structure of things. But just the level of crispness and pace is a lot faster.

Jolie Krebs, New York XIST: The mental shift has been the most challenging part of this experience. It’s definitely a different style of play and a different tempo… When it comes to creating space, there’s a more limited amount of time to find space on the field. Points are a little bit quicker here. You really have to confidently take up space… when you’re on, you have to be on 100%, or else, with so much talent here, if you’re not on at 100%, if you’re not like go-go-go and playing quickly and making decisions quickly, then you’ll kind of fall behind the pack a little bit.

  1. Technically East Coast tryouts were on the West Coast of Florida, but only a pedant would point that out. 

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  1. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.

  2. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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