Piper Curtis ’13 earned her second world championship this January as part of the United States Women’s Under-24 national team in Ultimate Frisbee at the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships in Perth, Australia. The U.S.A. team went undefeated, with 12 wins and 0 losses, and defeated Canada in the finals with a score of 15-6.
In 2014, Curtis also competed for the Under-20 team in Lecco, Italy, where the team also went undefeated to become the 2014 World Champions.
“It was close for the first bit, but then we took it away and it ended up being 15-6 at the end [in the finals against Canada]. We had a few challenging games thrown in there, which was pretty exciting. Our game against Japan was really good; it was really close. It feels good to be able to come up on top, and see that our system works,” said Curtis.
A native of Andover, Mass., Curtis grew up playing soccer. She continued playing soccer all her four years at Andover, and was recruited to play Division I college soccer at Dartmouth College. Curtis considered soccer her main sport until about a year ago, and had not even planned to play Ultimate Frisbee in college. In addition to soccer, Curtis now plays Ultimate Frisbee at Dartmouth.
“I started playing at Andover my Lower year. I joined the team because I had a friend who was going to try out, so I went with her. I found that I really liked it; it is a pretty great sport. I started playing Ultimate my freshman year at Dartmouth, in addition to soccer, and have been playing ever since,” said Curtis.
Still, Curtis credits Andover for introducing her to the game and fostering her continued love for the sport.
“Andover started my love for Frisbee, and that has been carried on and expanded upon as I have played in college and competed for the US. I learned basic stuff at Andover, which has been built upon since, but those [skills] have really served me well through college,” said Curtis.
She continued, “I learned a lot of the rules at Andover, especially since Ultimate is a self-officiating sport, and often in college not everyone has that. So, it was really helpful to have that already when I went to college.”
When first starting Frisbee at Andover, Curtis faced all of the natural challenges that accompany learning a new sport. However, she was able to carry over and utilize her athleticism and field vision from soccer.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced when starting out was learning a new sport, and learning how to throw and a whole new strategy. The fitness and field vision is pretty similar to soccer so that transferred over and made the transition a bit easier. Coach [Scott] Hoenig was definitely a key influence in my ultimate career. He was the one who introduced me to the sport and taught me how to throw and cut,” said Curtis.
“Cutting” refers to staying open for teammates so that they can throw the cutter the frisbee in order to score a point, similar to how a football player scores a touchdown. Curtis plays as a cutter.
Balancing Andover’s demanding academics, along with playing two varsity sports, helped to prepare Curtis for playing two collegiate sports at Dartmouth.
“Playing two sports at Andover, definitely did help prepare me to play two collegiate sports at Dartmouth. Especially with switching back and forth between different two sports. It also helped to do two sports at Andover in terms of time management,” said Curtis.
Curtis now plays on all-women teams at Dartmouth and at the World level; however, at Andover, Curtis had fewer female peers.
“One year I was the only girl on the team, and some of the other years I was one of three. I thought playing with the boys was fun, and I enjoyed it. It made the sport pretty competitive and exciting,” said Curtis.
A few of her peers also competed at the World Championships.
Curtis said, “I knew a few of the [competitors] because some of them had played at Dartmouth with me, but the majority of them I did not know, which was pretty exciting…”
Curtis is currently finishing her biomechanical engineering degree from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, and is playing Ultimate Frisbee in her fifth and final year of eligibility.
“I graduated last spring from Dartmouth, but I am still here finishing up my engineering degree. I played soccer and ultimate all four years, but I am allowed to play five years of ultimate so I’m still playing this year at Dartmouth,” said Curtis.