Starting out as an inexperienced Junior Varsity player cutter his Junior year, Andover Ultimate Frisbee Co-Captain Kameron Saalfrank ’21 has since improved immensely as an athlete.
“I think Ultimate is a sport that’s very easy to pick up and all you need to do is practice to pick it up. From my [Junior] year to now, I [have] worked on my overall fitness and being more conditioned, being able to run faster, jump higher, [and] be stronger. As far as throwing, during my first freshman practice, I couldn’t throw a forehand, I could only throw a backhand. Now, I can throw both, hammers, and scoobers; I feel much more comfortable with my throws. In freshman year, I was only a cutter––someone that catches the disc normally downfield––but now, I feel much more comfortable being a handler,” said Saalfrank.
Head Coach Scott Hoenig has watched Saalfrank’s development over the years and says that what separated Saalfrank from the others was his incredible work ethic.
“Kam is somebody who came to us in ninth grade really not having any organized ultimate experience. He played on the JV team his ninth-grade year and he made the Varsity team next year even though he was relatively inexperienced. He still was not that skilled with certain throws, but boy, he would just outwork other players out there on the field and [play] really good defense––half the game is defense, there’s a lot of the game that doesn’t have anything to do with throws. While he was still working on improving throws, he was able to make an impact on the team… He doesn’t have a ton of experience if you think about the total amount of games played and time in the program, but it’s really amazing what he has done with the time that he has been in the program,” said Coach Hoenig.
Saalfrank says that he hopes his improvement over the years inspires his teammates but also wants the younger players on the team to focus on themselves and build their own path.
Saalfrank said, “I hope [I inspire my teammates], because looking back at some of my freshman year highlights, I was not that good at Ultimate, so being able to get to where I am now and looking at where I am now, I try to push myself every day, remembering where I came from. [I try to] get as far forward and improve as much as I can [and] I hope my teammates can look at themselves too and not just me and push themselves.
According to Co-Captain Cory McCormack ’21, Saalfrank’s work ethic and leadership have persevered even during difficult times. For example, when the team was unable to practice as students took classes remotely, he organized Zoom workout sessions with McCormack ’21. According to Saalfrank, something he prioritized when doing this was trying to get his energy across the screen.
Saalfrank said, “I think the one thing that was really important was energy because it’s really hard to bring the same type of energy that you get from everyone being in the same room, working out doing the same thing, versus having to stare at a screen and follow what other people are doing. So as long as we could create the energy that we needed, and translate it through a computer, which took a lot more, then I feel like that is more effective.”
According to Coach Hoenig, the two co-captains came up with the idea of Zoom workouts and took the initiative to work out logistics.
“Our guidance to them was, basically, what can we do, given these circumstances, to try to help support all of these players – some of whom were on campus, most of whom were not – in feeling connected and physically preparing for the upcoming season? This was one idea that they had. Not only did they have the idea, but they actually went with it. We didn’t have to remind them about it, or ask them to do it; they’d try to figure out when it would work for students, and they just did it. It was great – they showed great initiative and leadership in doing that,” said Coach Hoenig.
Saalfrank looks forward to continuing his athletic career after graduating from Andover this Spring Term and plans on playing Ultimate in college.