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Chasing plastic

Redhawks soccer player competing for ultimate glory in different sport

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Bending low to release a forehand throw, senior Zach Slayton has moved from a youth ultimate team to Dallas Nitro, a men's club team that is competing for a spot at the national championships. When Slayton isn't playing ultimate, he suits up for the Redhawks soccer team. 
“It makes sense for him [to play ultimate],

Bending low to release a forehand throw, senior Zach Slayton has moved from a youth ultimate team to Dallas Nitro, a men's club team that is competing for a spot at the national championships. When Slayton isn't playing ultimate, he suits up for the Redhawks soccer team. “It makes sense for him [to play ultimate]," head soccer coach Fred Kaiser said. "It’s kind of an extension of soccer, a lot of off the ball movement, reading the game, things like that, so there’s a lot of things that’ll translate."

provided by Zach Slayton

provided by Zach Slayton

Bending low to release a forehand throw, senior Zach Slayton has moved from a youth ultimate team to Dallas Nitro, a men's club team that is competing for a spot at the national championships. When Slayton isn't playing ultimate, he suits up for the Redhawks soccer team. “It makes sense for him [to play ultimate]," head soccer coach Fred Kaiser said. "It’s kind of an extension of soccer, a lot of off the ball movement, reading the game, things like that, so there’s a lot of things that’ll translate."

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Trading a ball for a flying disc, senior Zach Slayton’s use for cleats doesn’t stop at soccer as he also plays with Nitro, an ultimate frisbee club team playing in the USA Ultimate South Central Men’s Regional Championship in Denver Saturday and Sunday.

“I started playing in 2010, and at the time my stepdad was playing and my mom and I went to the tournaments that he went to,” Slayton said. “At that time, there was no age limit for city leagues, so I just started playing.”

Slayton’s commitment to the sport of ultimate increased when he joined a club team called Nitro in late May.

“Every Saturday I have games and practice; if I don’t have practice I have games, if I don’t have games I have practice,” Slayton said. “And then we practice two or three other times a week; over the summer, I was playing four days a week and just practicing [and] getting better.”

provided by Zach Slayton
Dallas Ultimate features several men’s club teams with Nitro the top performing club. Senior Zach Slayton tried out for the club in the spring and is the only high school student on the team. Competing in the USA Ultimate Southwest Regional Championship in Denver Saturday and Sunday, Nitro can advance to the national championships if it places in 1st or 2nd.

A demanding schedule was not the only challenge as Slayton made the transition into a higher level of ultimate play, but he also had to adjust to competing against men as he is the only high schooler on a team of 20 to 30 year olds.

“Playing against high schoolers for the past couple years, it’s been kind of like a comfort zone,” Slayton said. “So playing club and playing older guys, it’s been a challenge physically, but also mentally because I feel like I’m not as good as them because I don’t have as much experience as they do.”

While Slayton views his age as a lack of experience, Nitro team captain Peter Rangel believes it allows for the team to prepare for the future of the team and connect generations.

“Bringing in young talented youth goes a long way towards growing our recruiting pool,” Rangel said via email. “Having Zach on the team has been a great opportunity for me to connect with ‘the youth’; I say that somewhat sarcastically but the reality is that even with me being only 26, the generation gap is absolutely present, even if it’s thin and easy to break through.”

Along with Slayton’s age bringing advantages to the team, his skill level, and work ethic benefits how he plays the sport.

“Zach is scrappy and he works hard; this benefits him greatly within the sport of ultimate, which is still limited in its athletic talent pool,” Rangel said via email. “That’s my nice way of saying that average, small, marginally athletic dudes like me and him can still be considered ‘athletic’ within most levels of the sport of ultimate [although] there may come a time when stronger athletes are playing the sport, but I suspect that even at that point Zach’s disc skills will be at a level that keep him competitive in the sport.”

A member of the Redhawks varsity soccer team, Slayton sees similarities between his two sports.

“It requires you to have the same sort of field awareness for soccer and frisbee, because you’re always looking for spaces to play the ball and throw the frisbee,” Slayton said. “Obviously there’s two goals; one you’re trying not to get scored on and the other you’re trying to score on.”

Another common element between the two sports is a sense of field awareness, knowing where to be and predicting what may happen next in a game scenario.

“It makes sense for him [to play ultimate], it’s kind of an extension of soccer, a lot of off the ball movement, reading the game, things like that, so there’s a lot of things that’ll translate,” head soccer coach Fred Kaiser said. “Communication, spacial awareness, things like that, just complements [soccer] real well.”

I have so many friends because of frisbee outside of school and in places around the Dallas area and around Texas in general. Ultimate is something I can do as a hobby to keep my mind occupied and be active, especially when I’m out of high school and stop playing soccer.”

— senior Zach Slayton

Playing with a ball versus a disc is not the only way these sports differ, as ultimate games have no official referees.

“[Ultimate] has made me respect the rules more because it’s a self-refereed game,” Slayton said. “You call your own fouls, so that encourages you not to foul.”

Saturday and Sunday’s tournament in Denver provides Slayton the chance to go to the USA Ultimate National Championships in San Diego if his team finishes first or second. But even if that doesn’t happen, the game of ultimate has provided Slayton with opportunities to meet a wide range of new people as well as a pastime he hopes to continue pursuing after graduation.

“I have so many friends because of frisbee outside of school and in places around the Dallas area and around Texas in general,” Slayton said. “Ultimate is something I can do as a hobby to keep my mind occupied and be active, especially when I’m out of high school and stop playing soccer.”

 

About the Writer
Aaron Boehmer, Assistant Sports Editor

Aaron Boehmer is a sophomore and in his second year of working on the Wingspan staff. He is also in his second year of playing for the school’s soccer team. In addition to Wingspan and soccer, he likes art and is taking his second year with intentions of competing in VASE again. Lastly, he enjoys food and beverages such as coffee (with almond milk or creamer because if not, it tastes like dirt), chai tea, and takis.

Contact Aaron: [email protected] 

 

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