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Kirkland Frisbee player chosen to play on national team
By Casey Malone
UW News Lab
Frisbee is making its way to Italy, and Julianna Werffeli is going along for the ride.
A Kirkland native and avid Ultimate Frisbee player, Werffeli, 18, has been selected to represent the United States at the World Flying Disc Federation’s World Junior Ultimate Championships in Lecco, Italy this July on one of two women’s U-19 national teams.
Werffeli has played on the Ultimate team at University Prep for the past seven years.
“Frisbee has become more and more integral to my life as I’ve gotten older,” she said. “It’s my favorite activity by far, and it really provides a nice balance.”
Tryouts for the U-19 national teams began in March in Seattle and Atlanta and lasted over two consecutive weekends. Girls had to apply to be invited and only 80 applicants were asked to attend.
Full Saturday and Sunday play included individual skill work, fitness testing, and even spirit work.
“One important part of tryouts for Ultimate that they stress is being very spirited,” she said. “It’s a really interesting dynamic because you are competing against everyone there, though everyone is cheering for you and wanting you to do well at the same time.”
In the end, 45 athletes including Werffeli were invited to join the two national teams.
“I kind of didn’t believe it at first, but then I was like ‘wait, this is actually happening,’” she said.
Moses Rifikin, one of Werffeli’s University Prep coaches as well as a coach for the U.S.
National Team says the selection team saw something special in Werffeli.
“She is an incredibly versatile player, she’s able to play great defense and her offensive skill-set is superlative,” he said. “I’ve never coached a player who wants to win everything more. No matter how tired she was she wanted it more than other people.”
Werffeli’s drive is noticeable to her family as well. Her father, Claude Werffeli, said he couldn’t be more proud of his daughter.
“Words can’t express how excited I am for her,” he said. “It’s just a lesson about having a goal and working relentlessly towards that goal, quietly and humbly, day after day despite setbacks and injuries.”
A college senior, Werffeli’s frisbee aspirations will not stop in Italy. Attending Dartmouth in the fall, she will continue to play well into the future.
For now, Werffeli couldn’t be more excited about her team’s potential in July.
“I’m excited to represent my country and to play at such a high level,” she said, “and have it mean something for not just me, but for everyone in the ultimate community.”
Casey Malone is a student at the University of Washington writing in the UW News Lab.