Garrett Yetman '12 Represents USA, Wins Ultimate Gold Medal
Garrett Yetman ’12 has had a busy weekend. He started his first college semester at LSU on Monday, August 20, after flying back to the United States on Sunday from Dublin, Ireland where he was a part of the team that won the World Junior Ultimate Championship title on Saturday.
The World Junior Ultimate Championships is held every two years by the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), and took place this year from August 12 – 18. Ultimate is a sport that originated in America and is a combination between American Football and basketball but with a Frisbee. The world’s best junior Ultimate teams took the field in Dublin to compete for the world title.
It all started for Yetman when an optional application was available for interested Ultimate athletes to apply to try out for the U-20 Team USA National Team for the 2012 World Games of Ultimate. Yetman was hesitant to even fill out the application, thinking he did not have a chance to represent USA at the World Junior Ultimate Championships.
“I thought there was no way a kid from Louisiana was going to be invited to try out,” said Yetman. But, CHS Ultimate coaches Michael Aguilar and Timothy LaBauve encouraged him to apply, and he was invited to try out for the national team in Atlanta at the beginning of March.
A few weeks after trying out, Yetman received an email congratulating him for making one of the 22 roster spots and instructing him how to workout before the entire team would meet in Massachusetts to train for the championship. Each team member was given a rigorous workout to complete each day from March until August. Coach Aguilar trained daily with Yetman to make sure he was able to complete the assigned workout.
“It would have been easy to not do them if I was doing it alone,” said Yetman. “Coach Aguilar would motivate me to do my best.”
After training all summer, Yetman flew to Massachusetts where the U-20 National Team met and practiced for two weeks before flying to Dublin to compete for the world title. While in Massachusetts, the team worked as hard as they could both on and off the field to build the strongest team possible. Along with two 3-hour practices a day, the boys had nightly camaraderie-building meetings.
“We had to build team chemistry,” explained Yetman. “We knew that we could be a good team without it.” Yetman said that one meeting in particular is one of his best memories of the entire experience. One of the last meetings before leaving Massachusetts, each player was told his three best qualities as a player and as a person. During that meeting, the players saw each other as more than just teammates.
“Friendships were made that meeting that will last a lifetime,” said Yetman.
After only seven days practicing as a team in Massachusetts, the U-20 Team USA flew to Dublin, Ireland where they would compete for a world title. Yetman recalls the beauty of the landscape around him, but also the cold and rainy weather.
The players stayed at Dublin City University and stuck to a strict daily schedule. Every day, they would wake up at 6 a.m., have a team breakfast and then get to the field by 8 a.m. to warm up before their game started at 9 a.m. After their morning game, the boys would go to a local super market to get food for lunch and return to the field at 11 a.m. to prepare for their game at noon. After that game, the team would go back to the university where they would have a team dinner and a little bit of free time before their nightly team meeting, during which they would recap the games and continue to build team chemistry. Even though his days were busy, Yetman still found himself constantly pausing to just take it all in.
“I would always just stop and tell my teammates ‘guys, this is so weird- we’re in Ireland!’” Yetman said.
While staying at the university with the other teams competing, Team USA got a little taste of what it is like to be famous. The United States has historically dominated in the sport of Ultimate, so international players were always seeking the attention of the guys on Team USA.
“Other players from all over were constantly approaching us wanting to talk or shake our hands,” Yetman explained. “It was crazy. We were like celebrities.”
During this competition, Team USA united to defeat teams from all over the world, such as Australia, Chinese Taipei, Finland, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Canada and Colombia. Despite sharing a field with players from around the world, Yetman did not notice as many cultural differences as he expected to see. Each team played the game with the same intensity and enthusiasm. They did, however, struggle with the language barrier. Although at least one person from each team would be able to speak English, the teams still struggled to communicate with each other.
“At some points, we would call a foul, and the other team would just keep playing, so then we would have to stop and try to visibly explain what we were trying to say,” recalled Yetman.
The whole week of competition for the world title went by so quickly, but three games stood out to Yetman in particular- the games against Germany, Canada and Colombia. The game against Germany was a close, nerve-wracking game. The boys went to half time with only a one point lead. The coaches reminded Team USA that Ultimate is about playing as a team, and that each player should be working for the others- no superstars. The boys took back the field and beat Germany 14-8.
The game against Canada in the semifinals also stands out to Yetman as an intense game. Canada is historically an American Ultimate rival, and the winner of that game was going to the finals. Team USA knew that Canada would be a tough game, but they had no idea it would be so heated and intense. It was not only the players that made the game intense. Yetman recalls that the Canadian fans on the sidelines were loud and distracting. Despite all of this, USA beat Canada 11-8 and advanced to play Colombia in the championship game.
And finally, Team USA defeated Colombia 15-10 on Saturday, August 18 for the gold medal. When the game finished, Team USA fans rushed the field and congratulated the champions. Even players from other nations rushed over to congratulate the American players and wanting to switch jerseys and other Team USA Ultimate memorabilia. Yetman came home with jerseys from Italy, Japan, Finland, Germany and Colombia.
Yetman is grateful for the support of Team USA fans. They always lined the field with flags and cowbells to cheer the team on during games. His own brother, a captain in the Army stationed in Germany, flew to Dublin to watch him play in the championship game.
“It was the best two weeks of my life,” Yetman said. He loved being a part of Team USA, and cannot believe that a boy from Louisiana was able to represent the United States and help win the nation a gold medal. However, he does not think he will be the last one from Louisiana, or even CHS, to play Ultimate at the national level.
“Catholic High School Ultimate has a big future ahead of it,” said Yetman. “I will do whatever I can to help build the program.” Yetman knows that current CHS Ultimate team is full of talent, and they are ready to build on an already successful history. Yetman remembers his first year on the team, when the sport was not taken very seriously. It was not until his second year on the team, when CHS placed third in the nation, that even football players approached the Ultimate team and congratulated them on their success. Yetman attributes a lot of the team’s success to the coaches.
Yetman is now a freshman at LSU where he is pursuing a pre-nursing degree and, of course, continuing to play Ultimate.