David “Duke” Boylan-Kolchin may have scored 25 goals and maintained a 100% catching percentage with the Breeze in 2015, but his introduction to ultimate was fairly ordinary. Picture the quintessential summer camp experience that many kids, future ultimate players and not, share; a mob of 10-year olds chasing some plastic and a teenaged counselor around without any semblance of organization. From these humble roots, Duke went on to play for his high school team, and qualified for high school Nationals in 1999 and 2000. He continued playing at Columbia University.
When summer club season rolled around, he went out for a middle of the road team in Brooklyn, doubting he could play high-level. When he cleaned up at tryouts, he started to get the hint. It took a first round draft pick for New York City’s summer league for him to realize he was “good” at Ultimate. Duke went on to play club in New York for 8 years, on PoNY for 5 of them, including their inaugural season in 2005. He was a linchpin in bringing PoNY to their first nationals in 2008, scoring six goals, including the game winner, and grabbing seven Ds in the game to go.
In 2010, graduate school at American University brought Duke to DC and to Truck Stop. Duke’s experience on Truck was “reinvigorating;” he had been on the verge of hanging up his cleats post-PoNY. Thankfully, that thought was short lived. Duke recalls beating Chain Lightning 15-12 at Nationals that year, and his wife Sara recalls the details. “He had a bazillion Ds. It was amazing.”
Duke played offense for his first 5 or 6 club years but moved to the defensive line until this past season when returned as offensive cutter with both Truck and the Breeze. He describes himself as an “opportunistic and patient” player on both O and D. Subtlety, to the point of being “sneaky” is one of his strong suits. Whether he intentionally plays mind games is up for debate but Duke does lull his opponent into a false sense of confidence, waiting for them to underestimate him. They think, “‘oh he’s just standing there, jogging, whatever…’” and then he takes off. “I think it’s one of my strengths.”
“I’m continually adjusting as I get older,” Duke says. “I used to rely on explosiveness and speed” and now he grumbles, he has to lay out to secure the D. “I’ll go back to tennis when I’m too broken for ultimate.”
Duke looks forward to the Breeze coming together for its most competitive season yet. In Duke’s eyes, everyone who plays for the Breeze plays for the “camaraderie, the way the team gets along.” Of course, playing for Dutchy (“the best coach in the world”) is a big draw, too. “He just has this perspective on the game as a whole.” Dutchy’s experience with many diverse, high level teams plus the Breeze camaraderie, the spirit of standing on the line alongside a group people you genuinely enjoy playing with, encouraged Duke to join the Breeze roster in 2015 and kept him hooked for 2016. At the same time he recognizes that seasonal transitions, and converting conviviality into competitiveness, can be challenging. “How do you grow [from that], go ‘from this team is really fun to play for’” to a force in the League? With the caliber of players already stacked on the Breeze 2016 roster and Dutchy at the helm, they won’t have too much trouble. Duke knows “it’ll be some good ultimate, for sure.”
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer
Jarnail to Duke for Layout Goal vs Ottawa, 4/18/2015