Even though the first pull of the 2016 season is still months away, almost 100 men and women came out to Long Bridge Park in Arlington on November 1st to participate in open tryouts for the 2016 D.C. Breeze. The fall weather certainly cooperated; the temperature hovered around 65 degrees for most of the day with almost no wind- perfect conditions for playing ultimate.
As the afternoon went on and drills turned into scrimmages, the talent that the D.C. area holds began to shine. Many of the players who already signed for the 2016 season attended, as well as past members and newcomers. 2015 Breeze player Anthony McLean was impressed with the pool of players trying out.
“The talent level of players keeps increasing in the D.C. area, which is awesome,” McLean said. “It was fun playing competitively again after a four week break from Nationals and it was great to play with my teammates from last season!”
The tryouts also attracted the attention of others in the park, many of whom had never seen ultimate being played before. Kids and parents hung around the fields after finishing up their own soccer games and left impressed with what they had seen, expressing interest in seeing more professional ultimate in the summer.
New Breeze player Markham Shofner was able to get his first look at the team and was excited about what he saw in the coaching staff and the players trying out.
“People were running fast and making plays. It was fun to be out there playing with the folks who will comprise the D.C. Breeze in 2016,” Shofner said. “I think the coaches and staff did a good job of setting up the tryouts in such a way that allowed everyone a chance to show what they could bring to the team.”
Returning player Ben Feng added, “It was amazing to see so many players at tryouts! There were established DC Club players trying out for the Breeze for the first time, as well as several ‘unknown’ players who performed very well. The 2015 Breeze players played with great intensity and confidence. The tryout was full of great energy and high-level competition.” Feng signed a 3-year contract extension in July, and is no doubt excited about the talent level showing up to help guide the team to greater success over the next few seasons.
Fans can expect to see a few signings announced soon. Head Coach Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere, along with the rest of the Breeze coaching staff, will then work with an extended roster throughout the winter, leading to the final 28 sometime in March.
“From my three years of tryouts, this had the highest talent level and was the most fun to date,” added returning cutter Brad Scott, who also signed a 3-year extension in July.
— Sarah Burden, Breeze Staff Writer