College programs aren’t the only ones in the country gearing up for the spring season. We’re seeing more and more high school programs pop up around the country, and we’re seeing more and more players with incredible skill, talent and athleticism emerge as the next wave of Dylan Freechild’s and Thorne brothers. For the next couple of months Skyd Magazine will meet some of these up-and-coming players. It’s without doubt that we’ll miss a few players during this process, but in an effort to avoid that please feel free to nominate any player you see fit by filling out this online nomination form.
To start this program we look at someone whose name consistently appears on leaderboards at any USAU sanctioned event. As a sophomore he lead the 2011 Eastern Championship with 22 goals, at 2012 Centrals he lead the pack with 24 goals and 8 assists, and during the 2012 YCC’s he lead once more with 22 goals and 4 assists. Needless to say, he has stats that anyone would be both impressed with and frightened of if you find yourself standing on your line knowing you’re defending number 24 of Holy Family Catholic.
Name: John Paul (JP) Bort
High School: Holy Family Catholic
Graduation Year: 2013
Preferred Position: Cut
Years playing: 9
Tony Miocic : How did you get involved with Ultimate?
JP Bort: My ultimate career started when I was 8 years old and I joined “Junior Ultimate” which was a league for 8-13 year olds. It was started by one of the home school dads. It was once a week on Fridays and would consist of 45 minutes of practice and then an hour long game. The league was only for home school kids at the time because we had a large number of kids around the same age who wanted to play ultimate, but now it has grown to include a bunch of kids from around Cincinnati. The teams in the league were coached by members of Holy Family Catholic’s varsity team, now that I am older and on varsity I also coach some youngsters.
How do you feel playing for a home-schooled program differs from playing for a traditional school? Do you feel like you have an advantage or disadvantage to traditional programs?
I feel it has some slight disadvantages. First off most schools have upwards of 500 kids at theirs schools so they have more people to choose from. This means more athletic teams. In our home school group in Cincinnati, we have around 80 kids including girls. As a result we generally have a smaller team and not always the cream of the crop athleticism wise. But we make up for this by playing from a young age and developing skills beyond our age. Other teams also usually get to practice more often it seems. We practice twice a week and then have a city league we participate in once a week. I know some teams are playing at least 5 times a week with hundreds of students to choose from but it does not bother me too much. I am still very proud of being home schooled and extremely happy to be a part of Holy Family Catholic.
Who has made the biggest impact in your game?
Easily my brother Tony Bort. We have played together since the beginning and he has always pushed me to be my best. We are very competitive together and hate to lose to each other, so we strive to improve to beat one another. When we both are on the same team we have a strong connection and know exactly what the other person is going to do which is a ton of fun.
How is the family rivalry at home with your brother Tony?
Intense. We cannot stand losing to each other in anything whether it be video games, board games, and especially sports. It can get kind of feisty some times but deep down we are best friends. I hate playing against him in sports, especially ultimate. But when we are on the same team it is a different story. I would take him on my team over anybody in the world. We just have a brotherly connection and it is extremely fun to have a player who you know exactly what they will do at all times.
How did ultimate fit into your college decision process? Have you had a chance to practice with any college programs? And finally, have you made any decisions on where you’ll be taking your talents next fall?
A little bit. I would love to be reunited with my brother at Ohio State University because I miss playing with him but my education is also extremely important so I have not decided yet. I have not gotten to practice with any college programs yet.
What do you think will be the most difficult thing in transitioning into playing college ultimate?
I am used to being one of the top players on the field since I was 10 so I think it will be weird knowing that I am not the best player and having to adjust accordingly. I will not be able to do whatever I want once I join the team, but hopefully I can grow and some day and become the best player on the field in college.
What is your favorite Ultimate memory?
All of them. There are so many good ones it is impossible to choose. The finals of Easterns in 2011 was insane. Central Regionals was also a great experience because we only had 11 guys and still made it all the way to the finals. This past year at the Youth Club Championships my team made the finals after being seeded 6th. I also led all of these tournaments in goals scored.
It’s not rare to see your name in the leader board for USAU sanctioned youth tournaments; do you go into tournaments with personal goals?
Yes, I love goals. At the beginning of the season my team does personal and team goals and I think it helps put in perspective what we want to accomplish over the course of the year. I also really enjoy scoring goals in games. Some of my favorite achievements are those when I lead a tournament in scoring. I am very proud to say I led YCCs in goals this past year because it was against the best players in the whole country so it helps gauge how good you are compared to the rest of the country.
What are some of your goals for this upcoming season?
This year my goal is to win the three big tournaments my high school team plays in. The Chicago Invite, The Paideia Cup, and Central Regionals.
What his coach, Phillip Hale, says:
I probably first noticed JP when he was 10. Before JP was in high school league rules allowed our eighth graders to play in the HS league. He captained the team along with Jay (Ratajczak) and they went undefeated against the league HS competition. We knew we had something very special right then. However, my first actual ‘Whoa’ moment came when JP was a freshman and we convinced him to accompany us to Revolution’s first Paideia Cup in ’09. He did not have the confidence to get in the game, but we were very short on numbers and needed him to ‘fill a spot on the line’ to rest some starters and talked him up enough courage to get in the game. He stepped on that field and absolutely forgot that he was a freshman. He came away from the tourney leading our team in scores and absolutely dominated the sky in our endzone, despite from being far from the tallest player and far from the oldest player on the field.”
What his teammate, Jay Ratajczak, says:
JP has always been our go-to deep man! Its always nice knowing that he can perform well deep and it has impacted the team a lot just having the confidence to stretch the field using him. He’s also always been a great teammate to me and great leader for the team in his athletic example!
USAU Triple Crown, NexGen, MLU, or AUDL: MLU
Spike or No Spike: Spike
Favorite College Program: Ohio State
Five, VC, Breakmark, Pata, other: Five
O line or D line: O line
Refs or Observes: Observers
Favorite Sideline Chant: Any good not obscene one
Classic Jersey or Sub Jersey: Sublimated
Best transition sport to ultimate: Soccer
Favorite College Player: Gus Misleh
Favorite Club Player: Gus Misleh
Favorite Pro Player: Isaac Jefferies