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Campus Angle: Hansen Yang, Newton North track/Brandeis University ultimate Frisbee

Hansen Yang (left) ran track and Newton North. At Brandeis, captained the university’s club ultimate frisbee team to the national finals.

Hansen Yang was a three-year varsity high jumper at Newton North High. At Brandeis University, he made the leap to ultimate Frisbee, and with notable success.

A junior captain on the university’s club team, Yang, 20 was named to the seven-member all-tournament team after powering Brandeis to the finals of the USA Ultimate Division 3 College National Championships in Rockford, Ill., last month. He is a business and economics major.

The team, named TRON after the 1982 science fiction movie, lost to Franciscan University, 13-9, in the title game. Brandeis maintained its number two national ranking while making its third consecutive appearance and posting its highest-ever finish at nationals.


The majority of the 24 players, including Yang, and their three coaches made the 17-hour trip in their own cars. The players also cover some travel, uniform and equipment costs.

Ultimate Frisbee is played on a rectangular field — 70 yards long by 40 yards wide — with end zones 20 yards deep. A regulation game features seven players per team. Points are recorded each time the offense completes a pass in the defense’s end zone.

Players may not run with the disc, but are eligible to receive it after throwing. The noncontact sport is self-refereed.

Q. What was your reaction to being named to the all-tournament team?

A. I was very happy, but I think the reward could have been given to a lot of players on my team. And that also reflects on our coaches and how far we’ve come as a program.

Q. You play the handler position. What does that entail?

A. It’s a lot like being a point guard or quarterback. There are different types of throws and you have to be able to master them. Making the right decisions and not turning the disc over to the opponent is definitely challenging.

Q. How did you become acquainted with the sport?

A. It was at an ultimate Frisbee tryout my freshman year. We scrimmaged and went through some drills and I loved it. But it took time to learn the rules and the strategy of the game.

Q. Was your track background helpful in adapting to the sport?

A. As a high jumper I was definitely better in the air. So my speed and jumping ability have contributed to improving at ultimate Frisbee.

Q. What are your summer plans?

A. I just made a club team called Big Wrench, and will play defensive handler. We’ll play dozens of games in tournaments in USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour.

Q. What has been your favorite college class and why?

A. Statistics during the fall semester. I felt an affinity for it. I like working with numbers.

Q. As a team cocaptain what kind of example did you try to set?

A. I used to get very frustrated when I played because I held myself to an extremely high standard. This fiery drive helped me rapidly improve as a player. However, now that I have a leadership role, I have definitely developed a more easy going persona to keep the team from getting frustrated during intense games. I’m also more approachable to rookies just learning the game.

Q. What nonathlete do you admire the most, and why?

A. Theodore Roosevelt. He worked hard and excelled in most everything he tried. I like his expression, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.’’ I read a lot about him in high school.

Q. What was your team’s most inspirational win this season?

A. Against Carleton College GOP in the national tournament because they defeated us in the quarterfinals a year ago. We came out strong, stuck to our game plan and held off their rallies.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.