Darkhorse tournament director David Jensen ’19 first got into Ultimate Frisbee when he was in high school. Once he arrived at the College of William and Mary, he knew it was something he had to continue.
“I really enjoyed [playing Ultimate in high school], and I knew coming into college that I wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee,” Jensen said. “I didn’t really have any idea of how competitive or how serious it would be. So, I was really excited to jump in for tryouts and make it through the tryout process and make it onto the A-team. … I was really excited to become a part of that, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”
As tournament director, Jensen is responsible for the logistics of setting up each of the several tournaments the team hosts and participates in. He also assists the leaders of the other men’s team, Seahorse, and the women’s teams, the Mother Huckers and the Woolly Mammoths, in setting up events.
“We have the tryout tournament at the beginning of the fall, which involves four or five other schools coming down, or three or four,” Jensen said. “We [had] a mixed tournament where we invited a lot of the same schools — JMU, Mary Washington, George Mason came down for that — where there are guys’ and girls’ teams mixed together and played together. And then the big one is the home tournament … where we have 17 teams.”
Following his graduation in the spring, Jensen plans to attend law school. While he isn’t quite sure where he will end up, he has received offers from places he would be more than happy to attend, including Baylor University and the University of Denver.
“It’s a really great feeling to know that I’m definitely going to law school, I definitely will have that option,” Jensen said. “So now I’m just going to have to narrow it down and pick where I want to go, pick where I want to live. … When I’m making the decision on where I go to law school it’s kind of deciding where I’m going to live not only for the next three years during grad school but also five years after that, 10 years, you know, forever.”
When they’re not out throwing or playing in scrimmages, the teams spend a lot of time together. The tight bond and close community that the players form is one of Jensen’s favorite parts about being a part of the program.
“I would say one of my favorite parts about the team is how close you get with the other guys and the experience that you have being with the other guys,” Jensen said. “We hang out together, we spend our free time together, we go to parties together, we have board game nights and movie nights, ‘Game of Thrones’ watching parties together.”
Even in just the past four years, Jensen has noticed a significant change in the culture of the team, which is most apparent in how much everyone now enjoys being a part of the group. He tries to take the positive lessons he learned from upperclassmen early on and implement them as a senior himself.
“When I was a freshman, the seniors would set up track workouts outside of practice and let people know when they were throwing and doing all sorts of other stuff outside of practice, encouraging the younger guys to come,” Jensen said. “One of the lessons I’ve learned from some of the upperclassmen is you have to text people and tell them individually, talk to them individually. If you go to someone and say, ‘Hey, I want to hang out with you, we’re going to spend time throwing and working,’ you’re far more likely to get them to buy in and want to come out and do that. So, some of the seniors came and did that with me when I was a freshman, so that’s something I’ve tried to do with underclassmen this year.”
While Jensen has acquired countless memories from his time on Darkhorse, the one that stands out most Is the game that decided the team would go to nationals in 2018. The team was facing off against longtime rival Virginia Tech, and the victory story is definitely a unique one.
“It’s really hard to beat when we made nationals last year, that was incredible,” Jensen said. “ I think we had a three-point lead and hard cap went off, which is the horn that announces that if you play the next point and if the game is tied, you play more, but if a team is up it’s game over… So, it goes off and some of the guys on the sideline realize what’s happened and they start looking around and freaking out… we were so excited. Then the observer comes out again and says, ‘Guys, there’s been a mistake. They blew the horn at the wrong time. There’s another 10 minutes in the game. We have to keep playing.’ So we went back out there … and the horn went off again and we scored that time and we came together and cheered. … It was a very emotional time, I think, because it was a culmination of years of hard work and years of effort. So for all of that to come together and pay off and making nationals, that was pretty incredible.” Jensen is currently working on putting on the Virginia Showcase Series. These three games, Feb. 9, Feb. 23 and March 23, aim to create a more “spectator-friendly” environment.
“We create one-off games against relatively local teams at a high level and play them in a way that is friendly to spectator,” Jensen said. “So making the games accessible, adding events in addition to it. So like, we’re looking at doing a youth clinic where we teach elementary school kids how to play Frisbee. We’re looking into having a youth game where they come and play. And adding an element where we have both a men’s game and a women’s game, which has a lot of advantages.”
The latter two games, against James Madison and Richmond, respectively, will each include a fundraiser toward a different charity. The first will be Here for the Girls, a nonprofit that strives to support young women throughout their fight against Breast Cancer. The second, the Girls’ Ultimate Movement, focuses on encouraging girls to participate in Ultimate.
“I had some ideas of what we could do for fundraisers; since we’re going to be having people come out, [I thought we] might as well try to do some actual, tangible good while we’re playing a silly game,” Jensen said. “We are going to encourage people to donate to [those charities]. We’re going to do everything we can to raise awareness about what they do and tell people about all the good work that they do.”
With Frisbee playing a major role in his identity and social life while here at the College, Jensen imagines he will continue the sport on some level after graduating.
“It’s kind of interesting because the wider Ultimate community, for a lot of people, it works as a great way to meet new people and socialize in new areas,” Jensen said. “After putting in all the time during college, [players] kinda feel burnt out after four years, but you gradually get back into it at a recreational level. So, I see myself doing that.”
With graduation just around the corner, Jensen has one final goal in mind before his time at the College is up: making it back to nationals.
“I would say that’s one of my big goals for my William and Mary career, overall, but especially senior year, and especially as a senior on the team,” Jensen said.