One-on-One with Jaclyn Verzuh '19
It’s only been a couple of weeks since the first members of the Class of 2019 began to arrive on campus, but some Big Green athletes have already made names for themselves before they did the Salty Dog Rag outside of Robinson Hall. After competing with the United States national Under-19 Ultimate Frisbee league last year and representing the youngest player on this year’s U-23 team, Verzuh also toured the country with a group of female Ultimate players this summer to promote the sport. With such a reputation before entering official college play, I talked with Verzuh to discuss her accomplishments, the future of Ultimate and her upcoming first term at the College.
How did you get involved in playing Ultimate? For a sport that isn’t as popular on the competitive level, what made you want to begin taking it more seriously?
JV: In Seattle, there’s a huge ultimate scene, and there are a lot of coaches who played Ultimate at a higher level that are really involved with teaching and playing with students. I started playing Ultimate in fifth grade in my elementary school, which was a pretty unique experience because most people don’t have the opportunity to play that early.
Did you have any athletic experience before Ultimate or are there any other sports you play alongside it?
JV: As a kid, I played a lot of sports — soccer, basketball, softball and I ran cross-country in elementary school. The only ones I stayed with in high school were cross-country and track. I don’t play anything at the college level besides Ultimate.
Playing in a traditionally male-dominated sport, what’s your experience been as a female Ultimate player and where would you like to see the sport go for women in the future?
JV: This summer I was a part of an awesome college program called the All-Star Ultimate Tour, where a group of us were traveling around the country. It was all women, and the purpose of the tour was to promote women in Ultimate and women in sports. The thing about Ultimate is that it’s a growing sport. There’s a lot of work as it grows in the women’s, open and mixed, and I think a lot of people are thinking it’s in a stage where, with support, it can go anywhere.
Ultimate isn’t the most popular varsity sport, but what do you see the future of Ultimate looking like?
JV: I think it’s beginning to get more popular in college as a varsity sport, which is actually really cool because playing Ultimate is a way to meet people in college and to be a part of a great community. In the long run, I think Ultimate is headed toward varsity status. Just seeing it growing across the country, more people are playing in high school, and that will hopefully lead to more in Ultimate college and varsity teams.
What’s in been like playing Ultimate on a national level, particularly as the youngest person on the U23 team?
JV: It was awesome. I was honored to play against other top teams and the core players and to learn from those players. Being able to see what Ultimate teams there are was a great opportunity because now I know some from the college scene and whose going to be big play-makers on their school teams. It’s great to already know some people on the teams, and I think people are great in the national Ultimate scene.
What’s it going to be like playing for a national team while you’re at school in Dartmouth?
JV: The cool thing about national teams is that there are the week-long tournaments and a week of training camp before, so there isn’t a lot of travel before tournaments. And the thing is, you have to do the workouts with your team and try to get better at Ultimate when you’re not at these tournaments. Playing with the Dartmouth team is going to be great opportunity to keep going and prepare myself for nationals.
So you’re anticipating joining the Dartmouth team on campus?
JV: Yes, definitely. I’m super excited and I know a few players already, some were on the under-20 team a year and half ago and I’m getting to see them again. And I’ve just heard great things about the team.
What made you decide you wanted to come to Dartmouth? Did Ultimate play any role in that?
JV: I was looking for a smaller school, but I also wanted somewhere where I could do any major and have a good program, whether it was business, engineering or whatever, and Dartmouth really stood out. And I was looking for a good Ultimate team, and the women’s just went to nationals so Dartmouth was on my radar for a strong, small school and a great team.
What are you most looking forward to this fall as your first term at Dartmouth?
JV: I’m definitely looking forward to making some friends and exploring the outdoors. I’ve never lived in New England before, but I like to spend time outside in Seattle and I hear it’s absolutely beautiful here.
This interview has been edited and condensed.