Like many players his age, Jeff Wodatch didn’t come to ultimate until college. A childhood filled with basketball and soccer made him a natural athlete. “Growing up, I was always playing sports.” Simply he says, “If you play a bunch of sports, you’ll be better at picking up sports.” By the time Wodatch “randomly thought of frisbee,” and walked onto the team as a freshman at Bucknell University, he already had the athleticism and field awareness to become a great ultimate player.
Playing a variety of sports early on, Wodatch believes, has also set him up for success in keeping his body healthy and strong. He has found that, “The more variety of sports you play younger the fewer injuries you’ll have.” Wodatch started lifting a few years ago and has remained injury free since then. “There’s always been a pocket of guys training in the weight room, but with the addition of some players there’s been more of it. More and more people are interested in that stuff.” He attributes this year’s surge in weight session attendees in part to the influence of Rowan McDonnell and the addition of Jonathan Helton and Bob Liu to the Breeze 2016 roster.
Wodatch’s physical game is a point of pride and he knows his endurance is better than most. “Long points are a strong suit of mine, I’ll make the deep cut when no one wants to…I’ll just keep plugging away. If a cut gets shut down, I’ll make another one.” Plus, he knows how to throw his weight around on the field. “People outside of frisbee think I’m skinny, but guys on the team see me as this meatheaded oaf.” Wodatch relies on judicious use of his speed to capitalize on his matchups. “I don’t really focus on who’s guarding me very much. If I have a clear advantage, I know how to take advantage of that. I know certain players’ tendencies on D, like if Cranston is guarding me and he forces me out, I’ll take him deep. He’s got kind of an ego. Maybe he thinks he can catch me?” Clearly smack-talking is also in Wodatch’s arsenal.
A three year professional Ultimate player, Wodatch is “incredibly excited” for his first season with the Breeze. “I’ve never played for Dutchy before, Breeze try outs was the first time. I got a late invite to World’s tryouts and the way he led tryouts made me very excited to play for him this year. He instills confidence in people. He’s very matter of fact, lets you know what you need to go out and do.”
Wodatch is also looking forward to playing a wider variety of teams in the League and learning more about ultimate from new teammates, namely Jonathan “Goose” Helton, Bob Liu, and Brett Matzuka who are joining the Breeze from the AUDL’s Chicago Wildfire. “I’ve watched those guys play… I’m interested in seeing whatever ‘Chicago style’ is, seeing how that meshes with us.”
While playing with the Breeze this season is a fresh start in many respects for Wodatch, the environment won’t be completely new. Wodatch will be joining many of his Truck Stop teammates on the line, and he’ll be looking for some familiar faces in the stands.
“I expect my parents to come to a lot of games. They’re still working, but they travel more to watch us [Jeff and his brothers] play sports. They went to almost all my games last year, and will probably come to most this year. A lot of my extended family will come to games. They make a whole cheering section.”
“If I see my family in the stands it’s always fun to make sure I play well. I mean I always try to play well, but it’s cool to see them up there watching me play.” We’re certainly counting on Wodatch playing well this season, and also a wave from the Wodatch clan cheering section.
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer