Senior invited to apply for USA ultimate team

Esther Gendler attends ultimate tryouts in California


Senior Esther Gendler practices her flick throw after practice Mar. 7. Gendler tried out for the USA national team Feb. 10 and 11.

Yonit Krebs

When senior girls’ ultimate captain Esther Gendler received an email from USA ultimate in September inviting her to tryout for their 2019 team, she said at first she overlooked it, thinking it was just another one of the many emails she receives.

“I didn’t really look very closely into it, and my mom actually was talking to one of her friends whose son got invited to apply, and she’s like ‘this is actually a big deal, you should apply,’” Gendler said. “So I did, not really expecting anything out of it, but then I got invited to try out.”

According to Gendler, the tryouts were in Livermore, California Feb. 10 and 11. She said there were two tryouts, one on either coast, and out of the 100 girls who try out, only around 20 are picked.

“We did drills and conditioning and scrimmaging and skills. It was really challenging, and there were a bunch of coaches and people watching us and kind of judging us,” Gendler said. “I met a lot of really cool people who’ve been playing for a really long time, and it was just really fun to play with people who are at a really high level.”

According to girls’ ultimate head coach Seija Stratton, receiving an invitation to tryout for the USA team is alone extremely impressive, the fact that Esther only began playing ultimate four years ago, makes her success even more exciting.

It’s a young sport, so in terms of the pure number of participants, we’re still at a bit of a disadvantage with the pool of athletes that we’re dealing with,” Stratton said. “To Esther’s credit, it’s very impressive, after playing for only four years, to be able to try out for a Junior Worlds’ team limited to even a hundred participants, to even make the tryout cut. It speaks to her talents, athleticism and passion for the team.”

According to Stratton, Gendler’s commitment to the team since she began playing ultimate along with her other skills has allowed her to improve.

“She definitely has improved her skills on the field, her knowledge of ultimate during gameplays,” Stratton said. “She has also shown a lot of improvement over the past couple of years, and she’s tall and jumps for the disc so that gives her an advantage over other players on the field.”

Gendler said she improved greatly since her first time playing ultimate four years ago.

“My first day of ultimate, I literally could not throw the Frisbee,” Gendler said. “I would just throw it straight into the ground, so I’ve definitely gotten better with that. It’s a confusing sport, but I think I’ve just picked it up really fast.”

As girls’ ultimate begins its season, Stratton said she is excited for Gendler to be a captain this year.

“I think she’s very good at forming connections with the players on the rest of her team which is very important for a captain,” Stratton said. “She gives it 110 percent when she’s on the field, which provides good motivation to her teammates when they’re tired.”