Photos by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com

This is the fifth in a series of articles that will introduce you to the new members of the Vancouver Nighthawks.

Aponte (640x360)

Playing History

Aponte has played for 15 years, most recently with Furious George.

Player Most Admired / Role Model

“The first player I admired was Martin Prado, a friend I played with when I just started to play ultimate. I admired him because it was amazing to see how he was so dominant in all facets of the game against adult players when he was just 17 years old (the same age as me). He and I were also baseball teammates for three years in Little League and now he is playing third base for the Miami Marlins of MLB.”

Most Influential Ultimate Coach

“There were many great players in my home city of Maracay who helped me develop my skills and my game. (The best Ultimate in Venezuela has always been played in Maracay, Aragua State.) That said, my Caobos teammates Pablo Saade and Gregory Hoepp were the players that I looked up to the most and modeled my game on.”

“Pablo ‘Lechuga’ Saade was one of the best handlers that I have ever seen, and I’m grateful to have played on the same team as him. He was a great role model to follow, in particular because of his aggressive style of attacking the end zone and his intensity to compete and win. He also had a lot of international experience, playing in six world championships, five with Venezuela plus a gold medal with the USA Masters in Vancouver in 2008, plus multiple UPA Championships including another gold medal with Miami Refugees. Playing with such a great thrower gave me the opportunity to improve my cutting skills and a chance to be creative doing cuts. He provided a model for me to constantly improve and develop my throws, and to add his handler philosophy to my repertoire.”

“Gregory ‘Greg’ Hoepp also had lots of international experience playing with Sadde on all six of those teams which competed at the world championships, plus a number of UPA Championships. Gregory was a great cutter with excellent defense and an extraordinary set of throws, particularly his high release flick. Watching him helped me improve my throws, especially my flick mechanics and my huck on both sides, and I became a better offensive player due his influence.”

“Under the influence of these two players, my game developed into a mix of cutter and handler characteristics.”

How many of your 2015 Nighthawks teammates have you played on a team with before?

“I have played on the same team with 16 of my fellow Nighthawks: with Morgan Hibbert, Brendan Wong, Bobo Eyrich, Mathew Berezan, Aaron Loach, Jon Hayduk and William Vu on Furious George; with Kevin Chan, Michael Yi and Sam Creed on Blackfish; and with Ted Chu, Samson Hoy, Taylor Nadon, Andy Siy, Alan Macfarlane and Philip Davidson on various teams.”

Vu (640x360)

Playing History

Vu has played for five years, most recently with the U-23 Open Canadian team.

Player Most Admired / Role Model

“I was never really involved in ultimate enough to admire anyone while I was a junior.”

Most Influential Ultimate Coach

“Trevor Stokes taught me the basics of ultimate and how to dominate as a thrower. Mike Fung taught me the basic strategy and is a large part of the reason I’m here now. Max Hunter taught me about defense and decision making.”

How many of your 2015 Nighthawks teammates have you played on a team with before?

“Samson Hoy, Nick Lin, Morgan Hibbert, Jon Hayduk, Aaron Loach, Matthew Berezan, Brendan Wong, Bobo Eyrich, Ted Chu, Taylor Nadon, Gyorgy Aponte and Evan Taylor; 12 in all.”

Lam (640x360)

Playing History

Lam has played for seven years, most recently with Victoria Skysharks.

Player Most Admired / Role Model

“It is difficult to narrow down who I admire and model my game down to a single person. I have learned so much from so many different people to make me the player I am today.”

“That being said, one person I modeled my game after is ‘MG’, Mike Grant. During my first season playing in the Vancouver Ultimate League I guarded a person who was tall, elusive, athletic, a great thrower, a player who could do everything. Little did I know, it was Mike Grant, the Open Division World Championship MVP the previous year in Vancouver, regarded as the best player in the world. There’s nothing like modeling your game after the best! While working my way up in the sport. Later I had the pleasure of playing alongside him, learning from him and seeking him out for advice.”

“Jimmy ‘X’ Roney, who won a World Masters gold in 2012 and most recently a silver at the 2015 Beach Ultimate World Championships, is another of the players I admire the most. Similarly to what happened with Mike Grant, I met Jimmy during my first year in the Vancouver Ultimate League, and I was very fortunate to have been placed on his team. Jimmy taught me competitiveness, the ins and outs of the game and how to play defense, but more importantly he taught the spirit of the game and revealed to me the sense of community around ultimate, which is why I still play this game today.”

Most Influential Ultimate Coach

“I didn’t start playing ultimate until I was in my mid-twenties so I didn’t experience high school or much university ultimate, but I must give credit to the few mentors I had. Kevin Bruleigh, the Head Coach of the University of Victoria Vixens, taught me the fundamental strategies of offense and defense. My other mentors include my first summer league captains, Jimmy ‘X’ Roney and James Rogers, who showed me the true essence of ultimate — spirit of the game, friendship, community and fun.”

How many of your 2015 Nighthawks teammates have you played on a team with before?

“Since I live in Victoria, I haven’t played with many of the Vancouver-based Nighthawks, only against them, though I did share a few seasons on the Skysharks with Taylor Nadon and Jordan Tessarolo when they lived in Victoria. I have also played with Phil Davidson in a tournament or two.”

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