Ultimate Cover

Athletics

3 Northwest Students Invited to USA Ultimate U20 Team Tryouts

By Amy Painter

Above: Senior Jonah T. in action on the ultimate field.











Besides playing ultimate, junior Cal P. enjoys basketball, track and hockey, as well as drawing and design.




These national team tryouts will be the first for senior Jonah, who is also a regular performer in Northwest theater productions.







Ultimate Naomi

Senior Naomi F. plays ultimate in one of the bucket hats from her extensive collection.







History of National Team Representation

Girls Boys
2006 Anna Snyder Casey Ikeda, Adam Miller, Jeremy Norden
2008 Anna Reed, Avery Reed, Anny Snyder, Julia Snyder Casey Ikeda, Sam Kittross-Schnell, Jeremy Norden, Milo Snyder
2010 Anna Reed, Julia Snyder Casey MacPhee
2012 Khalif El-Salaam, Kilian Marsh
2014 Mia Bladin Sam Lehman, Sam Cook, Alex Olson
2016 Josie Gillett Sam Cook




Students Have a Shot at World Ultimate Championships

Naomi F. (’22), Jonah T. (’22) and Cal P. (’23) have been invited to try out for the USA Ultimate U20 National Teams next month. If selected, the students will compete at the world championships in Poland this summer. 

The Northwest School has a strong history of representation on the U20 national boys’ and girls’ teams, with 17 students selected to compete in the world championships since 2006, several of whom made the team for two consecutive cycles. 

Naomi, Jonah, and Cal are exceptionally dedicated players and teammates known for their sportsmanship, kindness and integrity, both on and off the field. 

“Seeing these three students named to the U20 tryout list is a thrill for me,” said NWS Athletic Director Britt Atack. “They’ve been passionate and dedicated to ultimate for a long time. All three emanate joy, intensity and excellence on the field. They are most deserving of this recognition and honor, and I’m excited for them to experience the challenge and satisfaction that comes with being on the same field as the top players in the country.”

About the U20 Championships

The WFDF World Junior Ultimate Championships occur every two years, showcasing the world’s finest ultimate players under the age of 20. Flourishing men’s and women’s ultimate programs like Northwest’s create a talent pool that results in a highly competitive tryout process for athletes. The invitation to compete is a direct result of the considerable physical and mental training Naomi, Jonah and Cal have put in over the past four years.

Senior Naomi F. on the ultimate field.

Ultimate Beginnings

“I began playing in the third grade,” Naomi said. “My dad had played the sport for years and encouraged me to start playing with my elementary school team. The sport drew me in because of its high-tempo pace, its abundance of opportunities for shorter athletes and the bonds it helped me create with my teammates.”

The senior — who also counts listening to music, sharks, and collecting bucket hats (see photo) among her many interests — is particularly excited to compete with some of the best players in the country. She is also looking forward to playing ultimate in college. 

Like Naomi, Jonah also began playing the sport at a young age. His father drew him into ultimate when he was 10, and Jonah played his first league game in seventh grade. Now a senior, he shared that he experienced a mix of excitement and nervousness when named to try out for the national team. 

“It means a lot to be able to try out for the national team. This is my first time trying out for something like this, and I look forward to giving it a shot,” Jonah said.

Jonah is also on Northwest’s track team. He is particularly fond of his humanities classes (“East Asia and the Modern World,” in particular) and is proud to have been in play productions during all four of his years at Northwest. And he's excited about the future. 

“I got into my first choice of schools, and I can't wait to be there in the fall,” said Jonah. “I'm also excited for the next time we have Puttanesca for lunch, but I don't think both of those are on the same level.”

Like his U20 peers, Cal became interested in ultimate as a youth. He loved playing frisbee before taking up ultimate in fifth grade and then into his middle school years at Northwest. 

“I always really enjoyed getting to throw a frisbee, and when I learned there was a sport where I could do that, I was very intrigued,” Cal said.  

One of his most memorable NWS ultimate moments was playing in the state finals during his first year.

Junior Cal P. on the ultimate field.

“Playing with that team was a very fun experience, and it was empowering to see what we could accomplish as a team when we worked hard together,” said Cal, who also enjoys both playing and watching basketball, track and hockey, in addition to drawing and designing. 

Northwest Coaches Build Athletes, Confidence, Community

Each of the three students have been inspired by their teammates and predecessors in the sport, though most especially by their Northwest coaches. 

“Our school is lucky to have several world-class coaches, and I've been fortunate to learn from many of them throughout my seven years at NWS,” said Naomi, who praised her coaches and teammates for creating a positive environment each year.

“It's awesome to build connections on the field and then see that translate into relationships outside of frisbee. A lot of players that I've looked up to over the years have either tried out for, or made the team,” she continued. “It feels like a huge honor to be stepping into that place.”

A Proud History of U20 National Team Representation

The NWS ultimate program is among the most prominent in the nation. The accompanying chart names the alumni who have made the national U20 team. In addition, NWS Assistant Athletics Director and Varsity Coach Reid Koss was as Assistant Coach on the boy’s U20 team in 2016 and has served as Head Coach for the boy’s national team since 2018, an exceptionally prestigious appointment.

Also, Northwest graduate Chase Sparing-Beckley ('00) served as head coach of the U20 boys' team in 2014 and 2016, and assisted in 2012.

A Path to the Future

“No one from NWS made the national team for the past two cycles,” Reid said. “If students don’t know someone who made the team, I think they aren’t as aware that this is possible for them and something they can strive for. I hope our middle school players and younger high school players are seeing what can be accomplished if you put in the work.”

He is proud to help foster and witness the community and friendships that develop and grow throughout each season, while underscoring the value of competition as a pathway to self-awareness, strength and perseverance. 

 “Whether students make the team or not, getting to compete at a national team tryout is a huge opportunity to meet players from new communities, learn about how they play ultimate and get to know people that our athletes will probably compete with during the next four years in college,” Reid said. “It’s also one of the hardest things you can put yourself through physically and mentally, and it will be a challenge for them that will make them stronger.”