When he was a kid, Jon Pressimone’s uncle taught him how to throw and catch and his youth minister introduced the rules of ultimate when the rules of ultimate were still being written (“catch and take three steps,” Press recalls.) When he moved to North Carolina as a senior in high school, he tried to form a team by banding together with some off-season cross country runners. By the time he headed off to college in Maryland, Press knew he wanted to keep playing ultimate, but the opportunities seemed few and far between. He ran track throughout college, earning a scholarship for pole vaulting and got his ultimate fix through summer league.
“I wanted to play in college but couldn’t get a team to stick. “No one would learn what a stack was, no one would learn what a force was,” and everyone dropped the team before sectionals.
After graduating in 2008 Press dug into the Maryland league and club scene, working his way up through teams in the area, each year challenging his level of play, going to tryouts, improving, and moving up incrementally. He surprised himself at his first AUDL tryout in 2013, ending up on the Breeze’s starting line. That year, due to a jersey misprint, Jon “Pessimone” was named to the AUDL All-East second team.
Since then, both Press and the Breeze have grown. Press was asked to help build the team for the 2014 season, when the Breeze hired Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere and signed a stronger roster of talented new players. He returned in 2015 as captain. At the close of the 2015 season, Press knew the competition for a 2016 roster spot would be fierce. “I’m shocked and pleased that I’ve been given this opportunity for this long, a little bit surprised too– not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth.” Far from doing that, Press has sharpened his competitive edge and has been working hard this offseason. As Press watches the Breeze roster fill up with next-level talent, he rises to the challenge. “I can do better, I can get better, I need to get better.
“My first two years on the Breeze I went from being starting O-line to being back up D-line… I realized I really gotta do more. This year’s roster is really good. I need to be in the best shape of my life to do the best I can for Dutchy, for Sarah and for Mike. For the team in general… I know the team is really dedicated to being the best they can be.” With an extremely competitive roster to inspire him, Press is deeply committed to improving his game.
Even though he is an older member of the squad, Press counts his younger teammates as role models. Brad Scott “whether he knows it or not,” especially comes to mind. “I was so pumped when I knew he was gonna make the Breeze. He’s such a natural talent. Great mentality, great work ethic. Brad is young and wears some ridiculous clothes but man, he gets Ultimate Frisbee. Unbeknownst to him he has refocused me– what I need to be a better player, what I need to get results. Brad reminds me that you can’t play 90% and expect results.”
Despite his nose-to-the-grindstone attitude, it’s clear that Press brings a significant dose of positivity to the Breeze. He adopted the goal and mentality of a former teammate, Sam Trachtman (Breeze 2014), that accurately describes the Breeze spirit– “We lead the league in high fives.” As he explains it “We may lose a game but we’re gonna high five. We just high five the most.” This mantra has become a sort of mortar for the Breeze over Press’ tenure with the Breeze. “Yes, crappy things are going to happen. We lose games, there are bad calls, some guys are gonna be jerks or get pissed on the sideline, but at the end of if we can high five our teammates and our opponents, we’ll be able to come together. We’ll play better for the team. No one plays their best when they’re down on themselves.”
Press looks forward to the highest level of play the DC Breeze has seen yet and he has the spirit to stay positive as he improves this off-season. “One thing that’s really exciting about the team this year and last year is getting to play with people I’ve never played with before…it’s gonna be a fun team to play with for sure.”
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer