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A Young and Inspiring Ultimate Player

By: Zerlina Tang

A young player of 23 excelling in ultimate Frisbee, AJ Merriman, is considered by many the best player of all time for his high passion of the game. Merriman is in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), and has been participating in DC Breeze, a team founded in 2013. “He’s got, like, Kobe Bryant’s mamba mentality. He’ll bark at his opponents. There’s a persona. He approaches the game differently,” Andrew Nguyen, one of Merriman’s former coaches described him as.

Merriman states that he has been playing ultimate ever since 2015. In 2018, he registered to play for the team, and finally got in in 2019. He says that “The Breeze is different from other teams in our approach. We have a very committed front office as well as very committed players.” Merriman is incredibly dedicated to this sport, and he has also made many of his teammates look up to him for not only his skills, but also his intense passion.

Nancy Merriman, AJ Merriman’s mother, was a single mother and said that he struggled with mental health, and that playing ultimate as his comfort activity. The financial responsibilities almost precluded her son from participating in the sport in the first place. Athletes pay thousands of dollars to compete in higher-level club teams, which were previously prioritized by top players over professional leagues. Merriman didn’t start off with that kind of money. However, Breeze, one of the most diverse teams in AUDL, accepted him, and Merriman became one of the best units in the entire team.

Recently, Merriman is helping others by bringing them the Con10ent tour, which gives contemporary Black players all conceivable help white players have had in order to bring up the ultimate community’s missing black leaders and provide others with opportunities that could possibly change their entire life. “We play in a way that I have yet to play in any other environment. We are free. Sports are supposed to be about celebration, about power, about dunking on people but not being in trouble, running super fast but not having it be because of your biology — that still isn’t our day-to-day [reality] in a sport we can’t help but love,” as the architect of the tour, Shanye Crawford, stated. Merriman himself is trying to provide a chance to others that he hardly even got. He said that “The better the pro leagues are, the more opportunities there are for kids who don’t have the money to pay for club seasons every summer.”

Merriman is an exceptional unit on the team, and is incredibly passionate about the sport that helped him overcome his difficulties. He has shown kindness to others and is going to make a name for himself in ultimate.

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