Louis D-B talks gap semester, playing for the Ultimate National Team
Louis Douville Beaudoin is an 18 year old ultimate Frisbee player from Amherst Massachusetts who made the US ultimate team; in exciting news, that group went on to win the World Ultimate Championship. He graduated from ARHS in 2022 and took a gap semester, but he headed to Middlebury College this February. In his time before college, he traveled to places like France and California, playing pick-up ultimate and babysitting five times a week for his friend’s little sister.
MO: How did you get into Ultimate frisbee?
LDB: I started paying ultimate in about fourth grade, me and some of my very dearest friends Tim, Aki, Alice, Becky, Nomi, and Danny and Lizzy Allen. Nomi’s dad taught us how to play back in fourth grade. I then only played in the summer ultimate league of Amherst, SULA, until 8th grade. I played my first actual season on the ARMS travel team.
MO: Could you describe your high school career in ultimate?
LDB: Well in high school I came into tryouts, as a freshman, a young whippa snappa. I tried out for the JVA team and was placed on the JVB team, much to my chagrin because my close friends Tim and Aki were placed on JVA, previously mentioned as part of my friend group. Now I was devastated, I thought, “Oh no I’m not going to be able to play with my boys.”
MO: What did being apart from your boys do to your mental state?
LBD: It made me sad for a little bit until I met my new boys, aka, some friends from JVB. It really made me think that the team is what you make of it, it’s the relationships you build within it. And so on JVB, I made some great friends, including Peter Carlson Belanger, one of my favorite people. We were probably the greatest JVB team of all time. The captains were Geir Hartl, Galen Harwood, Owen Lynch, and me.
MO: What happened next?
LBD: Following that season I realized that I really loved Frisbee for all the joy it brought me, and I realized I was pretty good at playing. It motivated me to try really hard in the off-season. Over the summer I went to the national training camp at Mount Holyoke in South Hadley. Spring came around, and we had tryouts on Monday, March 9. I played really good Frisbee that day and felt really good about it. Thursday rolled around, the rosters came out. I had made varsity, which was very exciting because I could play with my boys again, and I was thrilled. Then the season got canceled immediately because of COVID.
MO: How did the next year of the pandemic affect you?
LBD: As junior year started [and we were in remote school], I was in dismay, I knew that I liked Frisbee a lot, but I was playing a lot less because of COVID. But by junior spring [we were back at it]. I was on varsity again, this time with all my boys from my grade. We had Joe Costello as our coach, a wonderful coach. I didn’t do anything in the summer except coach Frisbee. Fall rolled around, suddenly I was playing club ultimate on Duck and Cover, which was a team out of the valley that doesn’t exist anymore. That’s when I really realized, I’m actually pretty good at this thing.
MO: What happened that fall?
LBD: I applied to try out for team USA. I was selected as 1 of 100 people to try out for the national team along with my good friends Taylor Hanson, Becky Marshall, Nomi Zeidenberg, Geir Hartl, all from Amherst Regional High School. I trained really hard, even though I dealt with some injuries. Tryouts got postponed, so I tried out in March, almost two years to the day after I made varsity, which felt like a pretty full-circle moment. Then after a high school tournament, I came home and got my email saying: “Congratulations, you’ve been selected to play for the USA u20 team.” That was one of the prouder moments of my Frisbee career.
In the summer I played a week of training camp with the Worlds team, which was one of the highest levels of ultimate I had ever played, and then we flew to Poland and played in Poland. I was selected as spirit captain when we landed in Poland, and then we won the world championships.
MO: What was it like going to Poland?
LBD: Going to Poland was really cool, I’m a quarter Polish, and I would be playing on the field, playing a game, and then my parents would come with a relative I never knew existed. That was such an odd experience, to be in the biggest in-the-zone part of my life, and to come off the field and meet my second cousin once removed who lives in Poland and we’re meeting for the first time, so that was a super cool side plot to the whole thing.
Playing in Poland was also really cool from the international aspect; meeting all those people from all of the teams was one of the coolest experiences. It was a super social event, on the field it’s super intense and everybody’s trying to win gold, and then off the field, we’d meet each other.
MO: Do you have any funny stories from your time there?
LBD: One night we were leaving to go to the city, cause we had an early game, and as we were walking out, a bunch of shirtless Italian guys came out dancing in towels to Italian music, and so we naturally all took off our shirts and started dancing with them in the street. They said “Come back with us to the third floor,” so we all ran upstairs shirtless to the third floor, where the team was staying in the dorms.
They put up a speaker, and everybody was shirtless on the third floor dancing around. It was insane. People were on desks, shirtless and stuff. The next day we woke up at 8 a.m. and played Italy in the semi-final, and it was a super intense game. But as soon as the game ended, we were all like “We should do that again sometime.” Those Italians ended up getting third in the tournament, and so we celebrated with them, shirtless.
MO: What does being a spirit captain mean?
LBD: Okay the first thing I would say is usually you have your shirt on, but sometimes you don’t, if you’re with Italy. There’s more to it than just the shirt you’re wearing, there’s this whole aspect of meeting with the other team before, during halftime and after the game, to talk about how the game is going.
On the field, there were some moments, in which there would be dangerous plays or severe fouls, and there was a language barrier, where the Italian team or the French team didn’t know much English, and we didn’t know any French or Italian, so there was a lot of trying to communicate as best we could how to settle the fouls. There was the language barrier and it’s a self-officiated sport, so there were some challenging moments when the spirit captains took over in those situations
MO: What were some of the biggest hardships you faced in your ultimate career?
LBD: Looking back, a lot of the hardships ended up being things I’m really grateful for. Making JVB put me in a leadership role, and made me meet all these new people I really love. COVID let me get really into ultimate individually, and train really hard all the time.
My biggest hardships are definitely my ankles. I severely sprained both my ankles in 2022 at the real crescendo of my whole career. This definitely took a damper on the mental and physical game, because one of the biggest parts of my game is jumping really high, and it’s something that I can’t really do right now due to the ankleage, for lack of a better word.
Other than that though I think it’s been a sport in which I never put a lot of pressure on myself. I just did it because I loved it and then that led to a lot of success. Some people burn out or have a really toxic relationship with their sport, but if you really find it fun and you do it because it’s fun, you can really get really good.
MO: Do you do anything besides ultimate?
LBD: I do, I’m not just Mr. Ultimate, I have a life. My hobbies include, people don’t know this, I’m really good at yoyoing. I’m dumb good at yoyoing. I can do the Rubik’s cube pretty quickly. I played the cornet in high school. I like to exercise outside of ultimate. I like to be outside a lot, stuff like backpacking and hiking. I want to learn how to ski really bad. Actually, that is the next frontier. I really like ping pong. I like to travel and seeing new places is a big part of my life.
MO: Who have been some of the most influential people in your life?
LBD: The most influential people in my life are probably my parents, kind of a stock answer but my mom kinda just raised me and my sister as her full-time job, while getting a bachelor’s so she’s super cool for that. And then my dad commuted crazy to keep me in the school system in Amherst. I’m really really grateful for the Amherst community and being able to stay there was awesome.
Joe Costello and Leila Tunnell, as my coaches on varsity, are really positive people, who I’m super grateful to have in my life.
MO: Is there anything else you feel like you should be sharing with the world?
LBD: I would like to say this, what are they called those pizza things? Calzones. I used to think that calzones were the best food, cause my mom would make these broccoli cheese calzones, and I’d dip them in the marinara sauce.
But as I’ve grown older and aged a little bit, I’ve learned there’s so much more flavor out there. Similarly, I’ll continue to grow both mentally and physically. I’ve learned that there’s a lot out there that I haven’t experienced yet that I’m excited to try.