Jay Froude has always been an athlete, busying himself with basketball, soccer, volleyball and pretty much any sport MU has to offer. But when he started looking for something new, he fell in love with a sport requiring agility, precision and strength: Ultimate Frisbee. After rigorous tryouts and inspections by coaches, he earned a spot on the U-23 U.S. National Open Team.
“These are the highest levels of play we’ll ever see,” Froude said. “We’ll have to adapt and come to our sensibilities with each other, or we’ll see some very, very ugly games.”
Five-hundred people around the country tried out for the U-23 team and were narrowed down to 30. The team is composed of men under 23 years of age. The selected players will spend a couple weeks together at a training camp and then will represent the U.S. in an Olympic-style event.
“It’s worthwhile,” Froude said. “Any world championship is going to be the best from the best.”
The senior is active in MU's traveling ultimate frisbee team, which practices every Tuesday and Thursday, but the sport is not just a semiweekly pastime for Froude. Every day, he runs or throws the disc with younger players who want to learn the game.
“A lot of the freshmen look up to him as a mentor,” said Devin Holland, one of Froude’s teammates in the MU club. “He’s a great leader, as well as a great player and an overall amazing guy.”
Froude said he invests time with novices because others encouraged him the same way.
“Coaches always push me to my limits, and the players around me push me to strive to be my best,” he said. “I don’t slack off ... so I can be aware and be better all around.”
He said he got started with ultimate frisbee when a friend asked him to join a pick-up game on Stankowski Field. He met many new people and made a point to be at every practice. Compared to those of most other athletes selected for the U-23 team, Froude’s career is very young, at only 18 months. He hopes to grow quickly with the other players in the short time he has to train with them.
For now, he plays against other universities with MU's club team, which won its first spring tournament over the weekend in St. Louis. Froude says the sport isn’t as popular in the Midwest as in coastal areas, with their nice weather, or the north, where teams can play indoors. He was one of only three players selected for the U-23 team who hailed from the Midwest.
“Jay is an incredible player,” Holland said. “He’s a force to be reckoned with on the field, and you just know something’s going to happen. He’s a total playmaker.”
According to the USA Ultimate website, the sport has been flourishing for the past 30 years and can get extremely intense. The struggle to score quickly becomes forceful in a match.
“It’s supposed to be a non-contact sport, but that is not true,” Froude said. “It gets pretty physical. People get agitated and really heated about it. You start to see the best in people. If I yell at my teammates, they’ll yell right back.”
Yet part of why Froude loves the game so much is his teammates.
“My team is my fraternity," he said. "That’s our team and our boys. That’s our brotherhood.”