After being cut from Andover Ultimate Frisbee his Junior year, Co-Captain Chris Ward ’19 began studying the game in order to earn himself a spot on the team his Lower year.
“My first year on [JV Ultimate], I wasn’t very good. My throws weren’t very good. Other than being quick, I was pretty bad overall. But I learned a lot of the strategy… I gained a better understanding of the game and where to position myself on the field. By playing a lot, and with practice, my throws got better,” said Ward.
Ward, who plays cutter, has been able to use his extensive knowledge of the game to be an effective player both offensively and defensively, according to Head Coach Scott Hoenig.
“He is able now to really anticipate where an opposing cutter may want to go and be able to play effective defense because of that. He is able to anticipate where [his] teammates are going to be cutting or, alternately, he has a pretty good read for what throws and what capabilities some of our handlers have. He has a really good understanding of how and where he can cut on the field to get open and receive the disc,” said Hoenig.
According to teammate Sebastian Romero ’20, Ward’s experience allows him to be prepared for any situation the team might face.
“One of the things that I admire about Chris is just that he always knows what to do in very difficult situations. So the reason that we always look up to him is that he always seems prepared and is always giving it his all. For a leader, for people who are less experienced, we just look up to him because he knows what to do. Whenever we’re in doubt, he always knows the answer and that’s why we look up to him,” said Romero.
According to fellow Co-Captain Isaiah Lee ’19 and Coach Hoenig, Ward refuses to be complacent, and is always challenging himself to go above and beyond.
Lee said, “Chris doesn’t fall back on his talent. As it stands, he’s a very athletic dude just to begin with, but he’s not the kind of person who’s just going to rely on God-given talent. He’s always out there working harder than most everyone if not everyone. He’ll stay after to do extra core or body weight, or lifting afterwards in the gym just so that he can be the best player he can be. I think he does really set a good example for the rest of the team.”
“During tryouts, he injured his right thumb and couldn’t throw any more with his right hand. Rather than just only running, he picked up the disc and started throwing it with his left hand. He learned pretty quickly how to throw with his left, so he was able to actually do drills throwing with his left hand, and that was a pretty fun thing to see him do,” added Hoenig.
As Co-Captain, Ward’s welcoming attitude and willingness to reach out to newer players are hallmarks of his leadership, according to Jeffrey Kao ’19 and Lee.
Kao said, “Chris is very approachable, so it’s definitely a benefit for a lot of new players to see Chris reach out to them when they start playing ultimate. Obviously, when you start playing, you’re not going to be as good as the older players… so having them go out of their way to teach you, ask you how you’re doing, or even just be nice to you, really does feel good.”
“Everyone is drawn to his leadership, which I’m really happy about. He is really good at making an effort to include everyone on the team, especially kids, who maybe haven’t tried the sport before. [He is a] really easy guy to be friends with, super nice, and very smart. I can’t say a bad thing about Chris,” added Lee.
According to Ward, the responsibility of self-refereeing the game is his favorite aspect of the sport.
“There are no refs, so when two people disagree on a call, normally the play stops, everyone kind of just stands there for a minute, and the people that made the call just start talking about it… It’s really supposed to be on the players, and that really gives you a lot of responsibility,” said Ward.
He continued, “Everything that you do during the game is what decides the outcome, from the calls you make to how you play. So really when you look back at the end of the game, it’s really on you and the team.”