“It was the first time we had all played together. We started off slow and went down a couple of breaks, but we were able to score on O and get some D’s to make it within a point by halftime,” says Carter Thallon, a player for Team USA’s World Junior Ultimate Championships contingent.
Thallon, along with other members of the boys Junior Worlds team, was at the team’s training camp at Wichendon School, a boarding school in Massachusetts. This week, Team USA Juniors in both the Open and Women’s division will be playing at the World Junior Ultimate Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
Dublin City University is this year’s host of the World Junior Ultimate Championship, which is a Biennial event that began in 1983. That year, the tournament was held in Sweden with just 3 teams and sixty participants. Today, the event will play host to twenty open teams, fifteen women’s teams, nine U-17 open teams and three U-17 girls teams. Since its inception in the eighties, the even has grown dramatically and hosts the most impressive young ultimate players from around the world.
“I think that if we became a pseudo college team and had more time to practice together, we would do pretty well and maybe even end up in the top 20 after a season”, says Thallon about his team’s chances against the best teams of the college series. “If you look at past Jr. Worlds teams, a lot of those guys are now on NexGen, so there is some serious talent that comes through the program”.
Thallon has a very valid point. All the players that will be representing Team USA at this years WJUC are under 20 but extremely talented. Most started playing ultimate beginning at ultra-competitive high school programs like as Amherst and Paideia.
“After half, each team went on a run, with Team USA finally tying it up at 12s before time cap stopped the game abruptly at 15-14 in favor of the other team. At times our offense looked great, but occasionally we struggled to get off a single pass for stretches at a time. Our defense was pretty solid the whole time, getting occasional D’s but mostly forcing miscues. It was a great game and a great learning experience”
For the first time playing together as a cohesive unit, Team USA put on a great fight. Battling against Dark or Light, a quality Amherst club team, is a challenge for any team, let alone a team that has only played with each other for a few days and never against any outside opponents.
Thallon and the rest of the Team USA contingent can only get better. Their greatest challenge, however, will come when they do battle with the best juniors from around the world. They’ll get started on Sunday, August 12th and will play until Saturday the 18th.
What did Thallon bring with him to Dublin for one of the most intense tournaments in the world? Red, white and blue hair dye, a picture of Washington crossing the Delaware, and a sandwich. Just in case he gets hungry on the plane.
Thanks to UltiPhotos for this shot of Team USA’s Aaron Honn.