Dartmouth Ultimate Frisbee
A closer look at the four teams of Dartmouth Ultimate Frisbee: Princess Layout, Princess B-Ride, Pain Train and Discomfort Trolley
Last year, the women’s ultimate frisbee A team earned the title of USA Ultimate College Division I champions after defeating the University of Texas 15-9.
Since 1977, the Dartmouth Ultimate Frisbee Team has been one-upping the rest of us by tossing around a disc on the Green. Players with various experience join one of the College’s four teams every year: the DI women’s Princess Layout or Princess B-Ride or the DIII men’s Pain Train or Disco Trolley. While they aren’t considered a varsity sport, the athleticism of these players and the competition of the game is by no means lesser.
PRINCESS LAYOUT & PRINCESS B-RIDE
The women’s ultimate frisbee team is a force to be reckoned with. Last year, the A team earned the title of USA Ultimate College Division I champions after defeating the University of Texas 15-9 in their first ever national championship. Angela Zhu ’17 received the USA Ultimate Callahan Award, an honor given to the best player in the country. This year, tri-captain Julianna Werffeli ’18 has been nominated by the team for the award.
To commemorate the team’s win, the official ice sculpture for this year’s Winter Carnival was a “D” with a hand holding an ultimate disc inside of it.
The team competes in numerous tournaments throughout the year, from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology tournament in the fall to the Queen City Tune Up in the winter and Nationals in the spring. The team is captained by Mae Hardebeck ’18, Jaclyn Verzuh ’19 and Werffeli and coached by Eugene Yum.
Tri-captain Verzuh hails from Seattle, Washington, home to a vibrant Ultimate community, and started her ultimate career at 11 years old. Verzuh knew that she wanted to play frisbee in college and that Dartmouth was the right place to go.
“I actually knew some of the other players on the team from other playing experiences before coming here, and so playing ultimate was actually something that factored into my college decision, which I think is not very common,” she said. “But given that Dartmouth in the past had been a team that made Nationals a couple times, or was sort of near at least making Nationals, was something that I was interested in coming to college.”
Verzuh, a cutter, was named to the U23 Worlds roster in late 2014, standing out as the only high school student selected among a sea of well-seasoned collegiate and club players. This accomplishment speaks to Verzuh’s dominance as a player from the start of her career. She was also named to the USA U24 Women’s Team for the 2018 World U24 Ultimate Championships, which took home the championship title in Perth, Australia this past January.
Last year, Verzuh was named the Women’s College Player of the Year by Ultiworld.com, “the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate frisbee,” which proclaimed her as “the best player in college ultimate, period. While this award is typically bestowed upon seniors, Verzuh won it as a sophomore.
Despite starting her Dartmouth career already dominating the Ultimate circuit, Verzuh has seen herself grow as a player over the past three seasons with the team.
“I think that I would say that I’ve grown a lot as a person, and that that influences me as a player a lot in that being on this team has been a really incredible experience,” Verzuh said. “I think that the ways that my teammates have challenged me and supported me to grow as a person has been the biggest effect on me as a player, because when I get on the field I’m playing for them, and I think that that challenges me to be my best self and find new ways to define what it means to be my best self.”
Claire Trop ’21 also grew up in Seattle, Washington, and started playing frisbee in the fourth grade. While she played both soccer and frisbee competitively in high school and was on the varsity soccer team in the fall, Trop ultimately decided to focus on frisbee and play as a cutter.
“I think for me, I guess I just love the game,” Trop said. “I think it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon; it’s so fun. I find [that] I really fit in well with the community and the people and the kind of people that play frisbee. It’s a community I feel very comfortable in, very welcoming, so I love my teammates and I love the game.”
She remarked that her favorite part of the season are by far tournament weekends.
“You’re with your team and everyone’s sleeping on air mattresses and you’re together like 24/7, and then you play a whole bunch of frisbee games, like seven or eight in two days, and it is pretty devastating to come back to school afterwards because you’re in the little frisbee bubble,” Trop said.
While the team has been successful, they do still face their challenges.
“I think something that’s both really awesome and sometimes challenging is that we have such a wide range of sports and frisbee experience on the team,” Verzuh said. “Every year we bring in players who have never played before as well as players who have never even played competitive sports before, and then we have some players on the team who have played on national teams for ultimate frisbee.”
For Verzuh, trying to create a cohesive unit where everybody feels like this is their team is the “most fun challenge about [the] team.”
As of Apr. 25, the team is ranked first in the country ahead of Stanford University, the University of California, San Diego and the University of British Columbia. Princess Layout will compete at Nationals from May 25 through May 28 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, representing the New England region along with Tufts University.
Pain Train is the men’s A team, captained by Eric Greenlee ’18, Spencer Heim ’18 and Dan Moder ’18. The team comes together to practice, lift and train four or five days a week, according to their official website. Similar to Princess Layout and Princess B-Ride, the men travel throughout the year to compete against other teams. Their record is impressive, having won Sectionals for the last 10 years and played during the Sunday game at the New England Regional Championships nine times in the last 10 years. The team made it to Nationals in both 2013 and 2014, but have yet to win the National title.
While the team fell during the regional finals this past weekend in Amherst, Massachusetts, and will no longer be continuing on to Nationals, the future looks promising. With few players graduating and plenty of young talent, the Pain Train is showing no sign of slowing down.
“Given the team culture, I see us being DI contenders in the future,” Moder said. “We’re graduating a net of one person. We’re a really young team, and it’s only getting better from here on out.”
Andrew Binder ’21, a cutter on Pain Train, grew up playing soccer and lacrosse. He started playing Ultimate Frisbee when he came to Dartmouth last fall.
“My dad played and he said it was a lot of fun, and I kind of was burnt out a little bit from the regular team sports and so I was kind of interested in a new sport,” Binder said. “I looked on the website, the Dartmouth Ultimate Pain Train website, and there were all these headshots of everyone on the team and it seemed really goofy, like none of them were serious. Everyone was wearing weird stuff and there were like funny descriptions, and so I thought it would be a cool sport that was like definitely competitive and athletic but also relaxed and, you know, funny and weird at the same time.”
Binder’s bio is equally as goofy, reading that his major is “being a freshman” and featuring the question-answer duo of “Lax bro?: Confirmed.”
The highlight of Binder’s season was travelling with the team to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during the winter for a tournament.
“The whole team flew down on Spirit Airlines and everyone was pretty much wearing all their clothes, which was pretty funny, because you have to pay for carry-ons and everything,” Binder said. “We had this cool house near the beach and we played really well and it was warm. We went to the beach and, you know, it was like, a lot of fun ultimate-wise, but it was also a lot of fun to get to know everyone better outside of the Dartmouth setting.”
Discomfort Trolley, or “Disco Troll,” is the Men’s B team, led by captain Avery Feingold ’17. The team is filled with players who want to be a part of the Ultimate community, but can’t necessarily take on the commitment of Pain Train. Disco Troll is also a great opportunity for the development of younger or less experienced players. Members of Disco Troll have varying levels of experience in ultimate.
“I played frisbee in high school,” Craig Wilcox ’21 said. “I figured I’d continue that and then I started just going to all the practices, realized that the community was great, so I stuck with it.”
The team played in several various tournaments over the course of the year, sometimes travelling far distances to play other talented B teams in the area. These tournaments are very competitive and feature a lot of good young talent, but Disco Troll never lets that prevent them from having a good time playing. The team has a very similar culture of goofiness that makes them very easy to root for.
When asked about his favorite part of the season, Wilcox did not hesitate at all.
“Definitely the tournaments that we go to,” he said. “We’ve been to a tournament in Pittsburgh, one in Delaware, one at Brown and one near Princeton. You can hang out with the other frisbee dudes, get some good food, play some disc. It’s a good time.”