During my senior year in high school, I tried out for the USA junior women’s ultimate Frisbee team. My friend Phil — who tried out for the men’s team — helped me record a tryout video where I threw a dozen or so forehands and backhands to an incoming cutter. My application was accepted, and my parents flew with me to Georgia for a weekend to attend the tryouts.
A bunch of people I knew from NJ high schools were there — two girls from Columbia High School (birthplace of ultimate), a few guys that I recognized from weekend tournaments and games. The coaches ran a bunch of drills throughout the day, and then assigned each of us to a position and had us scrimmage. They mostly put me as a mid, a position I never played. I always played handler — I was reliable, and my forehand was very accurate. For most players, the forehand is the weaker throw, and so almost all teams would “force forehand” (guard players such that they must throw forehand) which played to my strengths. My backhand, however, was notoriously unstable and I lacked confidence with it. From high school through pickup at Google, people who knew me well would force me to throw backhands when they guarded me just to screw with me.
I didn’t get a spot on the team. In retrospect, I think a lot of it was that I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I was not in as good shape as I could have been if I had taken the whole endeavor more seriously and trained everyday. But also, my entire ultimate experience up to that point was playing the handler position on a mostly male team against mostly or all-male teams. The handlers who stood out at tryouts were college freshmen, experienced in playing women’s ultimate at a competitive level, but still young enough to qualify for the juniors’ team. They were known quantities, having been observed at many women’s tournaments, and that’s the sort of predictability you need from a handler. Even if I did have the ability to play a mid-or-deep position, I had zero experience — I didn’t have the height for it in a high school game of mostly men. That’s how I’ve rationalized the situation anyways.