BYU alumni represented in professional ultimate frisbee
The year 2021 was big for two former and three current BYU students as they made their pro debuts in the sport of ultimate. The American Ultimate Disc League is the highest level of ultimate in the United States.
Jordan Kerr and Jacob Miller both played for the San Jose Spiders, Braden Eberhard played for the Boston Glory, Joe Merrill for the DC Breeze and Sascha Vogel for the Tampa Bay Cannons.
Both Vogel and Eberhard have graduated and moved on from BYU, but they still represent the Cougars on and off the field as alumni.
Vogel played on the BYU Buckets, the school’s “B team,” for most of his time in Provo until his final year when he made it onto BYU CHI, the senior squad. Getting to the professional ranks was a huge accomplishment for him.
“For me, not only did I want to play because it would be really cool under the lights in front of a big crowd and have that label as a professional athlete, but because representation matters,” Vogel said. “I’m a bigger, stockier guy and if someone my size sees me out on the field, then it can encourage them to go and try to play as well. Same thing with Black kids watching the game.”
While he only played in one game this season, Vogel made the most of it by getting a Layout D (see above photo) and helping Tampa Bay win over the heavily-favored Atlanta Hustle, 21-20.
“I hope to continue playing as long as I can,” Vogel said. “I hope to be able to continue playing professionally with the Tampa Bay Cannons this summer as well as starting a club team here in my hometown of Augusta, Georgia. I also plan on playing in the second annual Con10ent tour.”
The Con10ent Tour is a tour of all Black players traveling to different cities in the U.S., playing in showcase games and also participating in social justice work.
About 1,300 miles north is the other BYU alum Eberhard, who played for the Boston Glory in his first season in the AUDL. Eberhard made his presence known in the six games he played wherein he got six goals, three assists and two blocks. He saw a decent amount of playing time, averaging 16 points per game.
“Playing pro was almost surreal,” Eberhard said. “First of all, not paying for everything like I had to in college was really liberating. Plus, I remember going to games as a high schooler and being enthralled by what was happening on the field. Now getting to be on the pitch is a dream come true.”
Eberhard had an impressive career while at BYU, playing for BYU CHI all four years. He was the team captain in his final year at BYU in 2020 when the Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the nation. For both Eberhard and Vogel, playing at BYU is the reason they were able to take the next step to the pros.
“I wouldn’t have the skills, mental fortitude or desire to continue playing at the highest levels without the influence of BYU and the coaches and teammates I had,” Eberhard said.
Eberhard hopes to continue to play ultimate as long as he can. He is coming off of an ACL injury sustained last year and hopes to come back stronger than ever.