Athlete of the Week: Ryan Jin ’24

Courtesy of Ryan Jin

Swarthmore’s men’s ultimate frisbee team, the Earthworms, is one of the largest club sports teams on campus. The team participates in three to four two-day tournaments each semester in addition to their competitive spring season, which consists of Sectionals, Regionals, and Nationals, if they qualify. The Earthworms practice four times a week and mainly focus on developing player skills and team chemistry, as the club is open to all regardless of skill level. 

Ryan Jin ’24 was captain of the Earthworms in the fall of 2022, and his primary position is a handler (similar to a quarterback in football). He has been a large contributor to the team’s success this year and recorded plenty of touches (the total number of times a player touches the disc while in game). So far this spring, the Earthworms have competed in two tournaments, and they recently competed at the Garden State Tournament in Vineland, NJ on Saturday, March 25. They played against the Rutgers Mystery Machine, capturing an impressive 9-5 win. 

The Earthworms’ next game is a Sectionals competition in Shippensburg, PA on Saturday, April 15. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but the tournament also includes teams from Haverford College, Muhlenberg College, and the University of Scranton.

Abby Chang: How has the season been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?

Ryan Jin: This year has been going better than we expected! We lost a lot of talented, experienced players last year, and so this year, we are focusing on rebuilding the team. A big highlight for me was our Philly Special tournament in the fall. We went 4-0 on day one of the tournament after losing every game of our first tournament the month before. Not only was it some of the most fun frisbee I have played, but also, I think so many things just clicked for our new players that day, which I was so proud to see. On day two, we faced Columbia University in the finals, ultimately losing to earn second place yet giving our all in the final game. 

AC: How long have you been playing Ultimate and how/why did you start?

RJ: I’ve been “playing” ultimate since my freshman year, but because that was when all activities and classes were virtual/remote, I really only started playing actual ultimate frisbee at the start of my sophomore year. Because my sister and my brother-in-law were both on the women’s and men’s ultimate teams when they went to Swat, I have known how to throw a frisbee pretty well since I was around seven years old. When I entered Swat, my SAM [Student Academic Mentor], Charlie, was actually one of the captains, making it just so easy to join. So, to keep up with family tradition and because that hurdle of learning to throw [the frisbee] was already gone, I gave the team a try and reached out to him. I instantly fell in love with both the flow of the sport and the wacky community that tolerated how bad I was, so I decided to stick with it.

AC: What is one thing you’d like to tell people about your sport?

RJ: The number of injuries people get from playing club ultimate frisbee is actually insane. Right now, we have three torn ACLs, five concussions, an uncertain but overwhelming number of overuse injuries, and too many people with previous ankle injuries. It might be due to the fact that because of the way ultimate frisbee and ultimate frisbee tournaments are structured, players are giving their all, both physically and mentally and sometimes to the point of exhaustion, over such a short period of time. [There are often] two days of a tournament where you’re playing eight total games.

AC: Do you have any pre-game or post-game rituals?

RJ: There’s a common post-game ritual in the ultimate community where, no matter if we win or lose, each team will always come up with a fun cheer for the other team to keep up the good spirit. Sometimes, it’s as simple as “Good game worms,” and sometimes, it’s a goofy “Good game worms, we really dig you,” and then one player on the opposing team does the worm. After every tournament day, we do a compliment circle while doing a cooldown/stretching, where each player must compliment a player on something they believe they did well that day, whether it was how they played, how they kept the energy up, or how they uplifted their teammates. It’s always a very positive way to end the day and drown out any mistakes with all of the successes from that day.

AC: What is your favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice?

RJ: There are a lot of chefs among us, so my favorite thing to do is to entertain them while they cook and then eat all of their food. Nothing hits better than a stir-fry rice cake dish and baklava at 12:00 a.m.

AC: Why did you choose Swarthmore? What is your area of study?

RJ: Because my sister went to Swat, I have a lot of meaningful childhood memories here, like falling in love with the Science Center Cafe hot chocolates or watching [the movie] “Tangled” in Wharton while my sister unpacked what felt like three-fourths of our house. Come application season, all of the memories rushed back to me, and it felt like a place I could call home and unequivocally be myself. I’m currently studying math and economics, but plan to use tools and theory from these fields to motivate change in the fight against the climate crisis.

AC: What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Swarthmore?

RJ: I would honestly say my current Advanced Microeconomics seminar. This is probably the first economics class that actively challenges and adjusts the classic assumptions of the field, which makes it seem less like a fake science. Also, it’s given me the opportunity to model how colleges can best achieve their carbon goals using constrained optimization, which has been just so fun.

AC: Favorite Dining Center bar?

RJ: Easily tostada bar. Indian bar is a close second. Beef ragout bar is dead last.

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