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Zulauf having ultimate success for North Penn

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TOWAMENCIN- Walking by the 6’5 senior in the hallway, one would never guess that Josiah Zulauf is such a good Ultimate player. Zulauf has played for multiple teams, both regional and national, and has high hopes for what the future holds for his career.

For the past two years, Zulauf has played all year round and is currently the captain of North Penn’s team for the second year now.

“Last year we placed third in States and 18th in the nation. We lost a bunch of guys though, so we’re not doing just as well this year, but we’re working on it,” explained Zulauf.

The senior also plays for a team called Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance (PADA) during the fall, winter, and summer leagues.

“It’s not too competitive. We don’t play for any titles, except for League Win. I played for Youth Nationals with a Philly team called Forge, and this year I am trying out for an Adult Nationals team. I was planning on trying out for the Philadelphia Phoenix during the winter, but I was not eighteen so I couldn’t,” said Zulauf.

Zulauf got his start at Pennbrook Middle School, where practices would be held after school two days a week for kids who were interested in giving the sport a try.

“There were a few days where the high school coach Dave Bear brought the star high school players down to Pennbrook, and we had sessions where we just threw around a frisbee,” recalled Zulauf. “I was unsure if I wanted to play or not after that. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t think I’d want to do in my free time.”

When sophomore year rolled around and Zulauf found himself more acquainted with the high school, he participated in Knights for Life, an annual ultimate tournament.

“After I played well in that tournament, I knew that this was what I wanted to do, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” stated Zulauf.

Zulauf explained that ultimate is quite simple. Players can’t move with the frisbee in hand; they have to make it to end zone to score a point, there’s no refs, it’s all self officiated, there are seven players on a team, and players call their own fouls. As every sport has a rule book, Zulauf explained that spirit of the game is considered the bible for an ultimate player.

Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player”

— Josiah Zulauf

“Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play,” stated Zulauf. “It’s an all-respect honor system. It really teaches people, especially young kids, respect for their competitors and really helps to separate from the mainstream sports.”

As for the team at NPHS, thirteen varsity athletes were lost this year.

“We’ve got a solid squad this year, but they’re mostly new guys, so there’s been a lot of practice and growth. We’re definitely suffering from the losses of some very talented players, but we still have some really strong players, and we have a lot to look forward to,” explained Zulauf.

The team lost their first game and went 1-3 for the first tournament. Despite not having a lot of wins under their belt, they recovered at their next tournament and went 3-1.

“It was a huge coming together as a team. Having three years here, I know how things work, so in the beginning of the season you have a bunch of individuals playing, and there’s a moment when you come together as a team and learn how each other plays. This tournament was that, and we totally killed it. Seeing the new guys come out and play really well was great,” stated Zulauf.

For his plans after high school, Zulauf will be attending New Tribes Bible Institute, a small bible college in Michigan. Despite not having an ultimate team, they do have a team in the  the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), which is a semi-professional ultimate frisbee league.

I don’t think I’ll ever give up ultimate as a hobby, even if I’m not playing competitively. I’ll be that 90 year old out on the field throwing a frisbee.”

— Josiah Zulauf

“They have a team for Michigan, so I plan on trying out for that and playing some professional ultimate. If I don’t make the team, I hope to play on some club teams which still go to nationals, worlds, etc. If I make the Adult Nationals team, that would be a huge stepping stone for me to play in Michigan. I don’t think I’ll ever give up ultimate as a hobby, even if I’m not playing competitively. I’ll be that 90 year old out on the field throwing a frisbee. It’s such a fun sport and the people you meet are just fantastic. Plus, the community is completely based off of respect. I’ve met some of the nicest, coolest people playing frisbee. Playing hard against each other, but still respecting each other at the end of the day is so great to me.”

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Zulauf having ultimate success for North Penn