Austin Lien is a current Captain of Illinois Ultimate, as well as being the senior leader. After hard work, Lien barely made a squad that advanced to the quarter finals in 2008. He was lucky enough to be introduced to Ultimate by his current girlfriend, and apparently likes making funny faces when he throws backhand.
Introduction to Ultimate
I had played ultimate before in middle school gym, with weird rules that seem to float around like being able to walk three steps with the disc. My first introduction to “real” ultimate was when a good friend of mine (now girlfriend) got a bunch of people including my group of friends to commit to Saturday night pickup at my high school. This Saturday night pickup crew became close immediately, and fell in love with the game. And it looks like maybe the girl After that summer, we learned that there was a high school league in Minnesota. Luke Sperduto (Harvard), Neal Hanke (Iowa State), and I declared ourselves captains and put together a team called TROUT in our senior year at Orono High School (MN). I pretty much went with ultimate from there.
What is your sports background and how did those skills transition to Ultimate?
I played baseball for my entire life up until my senior year of high school. I was a pretty talented outfielder, but terrible at batting. I didn’t have any qualms quitting my senior year to play ultimate. I like to say that baseball made me prefer throwing hammers over forehands. Most people say playing baseball made it easier to learn to throw a forehand. This was not the case for me.
What has your career at Illinois been like?
When I joined the team in ’08, my goal was to make the A team. I worked my butt off, and barely made it. (I was a spring addition). After that, it became about constantly setting new goals. I wanted to have a starting position as a sophomore, and be a captain as a junior. This year my goal was to bring my team to Nationals one more time (four out of four years). I was lucky enough to achieve all of those. My only remaining goal is pass the benchmark that Illinois last set in Boulders – quarterfinals. I don’t think there has been any point in my career where I can say that I’ve been satisfied or comfortable. Definitely a hard road. My biggest inspirations have been Joel Koehneman and Walden Nelson.
What do you do outside of Ultimate?
I’m a General Engineering major with a Computer Science minor. I recently (a couple hours ago) completed my senior design project, which basically sucked the life out of me. I’d like to get an job back in Minneapolis once I get back from Boulder.
What do you plan on doing with ultimate after college?
This summer, I’ll be returning for my third season with the Twin Cities area mixed team Drag’n Thrust. Other than that, I’d love to go back and coach the high school team I helped start.